Welcome to Hilton Head Island, or as per the locals, just good ole’ Hilton Head. Hilton Head has a long southern history where you can experience the relaxed Lowcountry island atmosphere, without sacrificing luxury. This seaside community is a long-time favorite for both beachgoers, car enthusiasts, and golfers alike. No wonder some people like Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King, Isaiah Thomas, John Mellencamp, and many more, have called this home. Hilton Head is a wonderful island with pristine beaches, and tidal pools in the shadow of lovely live oak trees. The Lowcountry vibe is met with a chic elegance with a dress code of classy casual wear unless one is at the white sand beaches. Some events, like the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance and Motoring Festival, which I attended this trip have a sophisticated flare. Read on to see how you can enjoy the perfect Hilton Head Island Getaway.

While my first trip to the island was in the shoulder season at the beach, recently I visited this marvelous island community to attend the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival www.hhiconcours.com This is an annual event held in November each year. The Festival is an exceptional experience that will electrify you while seeing extraordinary cars, boats, aircraft, and motorcycles as well as attending various events with delicious food. The event not only showcases many motoring highlights, but funds from the event also help support local youth programs. On Friday night before the Festival, the Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala was held. The Gala is an exquisite event under the twinkling stars, a great start to your exceptional weekend visit. 

Where to stay on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina?

The event grounds are on the fairways at Port Royal Golf Club. Port Royal is one of the first golf clubs on Hilton Head. Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa is the official Host Hotel for the event and where I stayed. I enjoyed being close to the excitement of the Festival and the pristine beach. 

The weather on Hilton Head Island can be quite balmy in the fall. While the summer months are the most popular, it is hotter, and early November often has temperatures above 60 degrees into the mid-70s. Being from Florida, I found the weather quite enjoyable, especially if you are in a convertible or drive with your roof and windows open to experience the sea air. 

Plus besides the events of the weekend, I was able to enjoy seeing the great beaches, and sunset, and take a ride to explore more of this charming island. And, if you play golf, there are many great golf clubs in the area if you want to stay a few more days to get in a round or two of golf. I would bring a sweater or light jacket to be prepared if you are visiting during the shoulder season or winter months though, just since you are on the waterfront and it can be breezy. 

Where is Hilton Head Island, South Carolina?

Hilton Head Island is a picturesque barrier island located in the southernmost part of South Carolina, USA. Nestled along the Atlantic Ocean coastline, and boasts a subtropical climate offering year-round appeal for visitors seeking outdoor adventures, relaxation, and luxurious amenities on Hilton Head Island. 

The island is only 12 miles long and 5 miles wide, with over 38k population it attracts over 2.5 million visitors a year. Thus, this time of year had a great crowd for the event, while having fewer of the summer crowd, so the beaches were great to hike, bike, and walk, (or shop at Tanger Outlet, etc). I found the shoulder season the best time to visit Hilton Head Island.

Things to See and Do on Hilton Head Island

Being an island, the first thing one may think about are the beaches, watersports, and nature walks or bike rides; they are all available on the island. There are many trails for bikes or walking, and under the oaks, you can get some great shade. Besides that, there are spas, golfing, and many other alternatives noted below to keep you entertained.

Best Beaches in Hilton Head

Hilton Head has some of the best beaches in the country and is very family friendly and based on my experience most seem to offer parking at or near the beach. Besides these 3 Hilton Head Best Beaches below you will find many other alternatives too since this is an island with many beaches. Here’s my recommendation, let me know if you have others in the comments below.

Coligny Beach Park

While one of the most popular with tourists, I still recommend Coligny Beach Park, the first beach I visited since it is near shops and food, restrooms, and is great for nature lovers like me. Besides the landscaped walking and bike paths, this oceanside beach also had wi-fi (and swings for those with kids). It also has a wide long mat to make it easier to get through the sand, especially for those with mobility issues. See www.hiltonhead.com

Burkes Beach Access 

This is a quieter alternative to Coligny Beach, but also this is a good family beach with vending machines in case you need a drink. Many walkers and bikers also enjoyed it too. Check the website for the most current rules regarding dogs on the beach, since this may be limited at some peak times. Outdoor showers are available and there are seasonal lifeguards. Info on this public beach can be found at  www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov

Driessen Beach Park

Driessen Beach Park is a park with a dog-friendly beach (last I heard), so for those with pets this may be the place for you, but there are time spots for them and they should be on a lead. This too is a public beach and info is listed under Borkes Beach above. 

Places to Visit on you Hilton Head Island Getaway

Harbour Town

Harbour Town Lighthouse was built in 1969 and is a great way to get some great views by climbing to the top of the lighthouse that costs around $7 (kids under 5 free). The lighthouse has 114 steps to get to the top and there is also a small museum to see photos of Harbour Town, etc. The lighthouse is located at the Harbour Town Marina. Notably, Harbour Town is within Sea Pines, a private residential community on the island and it requires a $9 fee per car to enter the community last I checked. After the lighthouse, perhaps you have a meal at the restaurant at the club or rent a bike, since there are 15 miles of bike paths to enjoy. www.harbourtownlighthouse.com

Dolphin Tours Hilton Head Island are a must and one of the best leaves from Harbour Town.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a great place to visit and experience nature on Hilton Head Island. Although beaches are one of the top places to visit on the island, this nature preserve has raised walkways to experience a walk in the marshes, swamps, and forest. You can also enjoy seeing the Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field and the native american ruins including the 4,000-year-old Sea Pines Shell Ring. www.seapines.com

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge 

The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is another great option to experience island nature and see some of the wildlife including deer, turtles, and alligators. Go hiking the paths or go birdwatching. Be sure to bring your water, hat, and sunscreen since there is limited shade, but it is a wonderful reserve to explore. Dogs are not allowed since this is a preserve. More info can be found at www.fws.gov

Hilton Head Island Getaway For Golfers

Golf Outings are another option since Hilton Head is one of the top golfing destinations. There are 24 champion golf clubs, including many tournaments including the PGA. And, if you don’t play or want to polish up your swing, there are golf lessons available. Want to try the best Hilton Head Island Getaway golf courses check out the Harbour Town Golf Links at the Salt Pine resort, or the Atlantic Dunes.

Bike, Jet Ski, Boat, Dolphin, and Sunset Tours, etc. are wonderful ways to experience some more fun on the water.

Enjoy the Westin Spa

Spa Treatment is a great way to spend your time relaxing. The Westin has a heavenly spa and you can sit back and relax after the beach.

Visit Daufuskie Island 

Daufuskie Island is located close by and only accessible by boat or ferry. This quaint rustic island is home to some of the original Gullah Culture of the local African Americans on the island. You can take a small walking tour and learn the history of the island and see the local artists display their works. www.daufuskieisland.com Take a ferry and book it here.

Best Restaurants on Hilton Head Island 

There is a wide selection of great restaurants with over 200 to choose from in Hilton Head. While the tasty fresh seafood is a given in the Lowcountry, there are many options. Some of the favorite Lowcountry and Southern classic dishes are oysters, shrimp & grits, and okra, to name a few. Some notable restaurants include: 

  • The Carolina Room at the Westin Hilton Head is a popular restaurant and one of the top pics of Open Table. The American Low Country cuisine is created by the Culinary Team taking into account the fresh, local, sustainable ingredients. www.marriott.com
  • Skull Creek Restaurant has great views with a relaxed vibe, plus delicious seafood and Low Country boils. www.skullcreekrestaurant.com
  • Old Oyster Factory has a long track record dating back to 1925. You can’t go wrong. They have fresh oysters served plus dishes like shrimp Creole, stuffed flounder, build-your-own steak combos, and more. The scenery is also great. www.oldoysterfacgory.com
  • Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana is a great choice if you’re craving some Italian food, like Lobster Ravioli, Calamari, and some great Tiramisu. www.michael-anthonys.com
  • A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant is a good option with dishes like fried green tomatoes, shrimp burgers, shrimp and grits, etc. in a casual relaxed environment.  www.alowcountrybackyard.com
  • Looking for Mexican? Head to Holy Tequila where I ate some amazing Mexican food on Hilton Head Island. 
Hudson’s on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Best Coffee in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 

Hilton Head Island Coffee Roasters – This was a great spot not too far from Westin Hilton Head. They roast their coffee and they were super friendly. 

Corner Perk: Located just a short drive from the island, in nearby Bluffton, Corner Perk is worth the trip for coffee aficionados. Known for its artisanal coffee blends and creative latte art, this community-focused café also hosts live music events and showcases local artwork. It’s a great spot to relax and connect with the vibrant local culture.

The French Bakery & European Cuisine is a great bakery, serves awesome coffee, and is located in a great area to ride a bike or take a walk afterward. It is a perfect brunch location on Hilton Head Island.

Directions – How to Get to Hilton Head Island? 

Directions depend on where you are coming from, but one of the primary ways to get to Hilton Head Island is to drive or fly there via the international airport in Savannah. There are also trains, buses, and ferries depending on your budget. 

  • Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport (Code SAV) – This is the closest airport to Hilton Head and I traveled there this trip from Orlando. It is only about 40 miles from Hilton Head. www.savannahairport.com Check out flight deals on Expedia.
  • Train Station -.Train rides can be fun. Over the years I took Amtrak up and down the East Coast. There is no station on the island, but you can take one to Savannah, GA which is around 45 minutes away, or to the Yemassee, SC station that’s about an hour away from Hilton Head. Then rent a car from there. 
  • Ferries – You can take a ferry to and from Savannah, which gives you a new view of each city from the water, but this is generally a great day trip from Hilton Head. Book your ferry to Savannah here.
  • Car/Rental Car – Depending on where you’re coming from, you can always drive to Hilton Head and the nearby airports do have rental cars. Driving through the roadways to the island is another great way to experience the natural surroundings.

How Long Should You Stay in Hilton Head?

The length of time on the island would likely depend on your lifestyle and needs. Hilton Head Island is perfect for a few days or you could stay a week depending on what you want to do. Hilton Head Island offers a village feel. Enjoy a range of stays from big hotels to vacation rentals depending on your style (and can be found on www.booking.com). Hilton Head is a great place for singles, couples, or families. Also, this year’s event Concours will be held November 1-3 so plan for this weekend of excellence. There are also some other great festivals if you want to experience the Lowcountry and Hilton Head too.

Book Your Hilton Head Island Getaway Now!

Hilton Head is such a unique place with a great blend of Lowcountry dishes, nature, sports, and relaxed style. The Hilton Head Island Concours and Gala were so great to experience and I truly enjoyed it while learning more about all motoring styles along with amazing food. Staying at the Westin added such a touch of elegance and relaxation by the ocean. If you have a chance, I highly recommend a trip to Hilton Head Island, a “must-see” in South Carolina. A Hilton Head Island Getaway is perfect coming up for this spring as well as summer.

Enjoy a perfect Hilton Head Island Getaway in South Carolina with this guide to experiencing the best places to eat, where to stay, and more.





February 16, 2024

All Rights Reserved by Sarah Errafay  

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