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Best of Hilton Head Island

When international travel was halted in 2020, we spent more time exploring the beautiful USA with several cross-country roadtrips from California. Driving across the state line from Georgia to South Carolina instantly felt like vacation. It was suddenly greener with palm trees and golf courses every which way. The sun seemed to shine even brighter when we crossed the bridge onto Hilton Head island and as soon as we arrived at our vacation rental, we were ready to unpack and head to the beach. 

The best way to get around Hilton Head is by bicycle. We reserved some online at Pedals Bicycle ($30 for the week, at the time of rental). It is nice that they have two different sized bikes for adults and kids along with child seats, pull carts, and tandem bikes-- plenty to choose from. If you're going during busy season, I suggest reserving before you arrive. Make sure you get baskets and locks if you need them. The best part is that they offer free delivery, so our bikes were waiting for us when we arrived. 

Having lived in California almost my entire life, beaches never tend to impress me too much but there are two things we loved about the beach in Hilton Head:

1. The waves were not huge, making it more kid-friendly and

2. You can ride your bike on the beach-- yes, on the sand! It was so much fun and totally new for us.

A couple of things to keep in mind-- we saw lots of jellyfish (both dead and alive), many stingrays (especially in the evening), and a fisherman nearby accidentally caught a baby shark (he threw it back). Swim at your own risk! (My kids swam all day everyday and they were fine) 🙃

Restaurants

For breakfast, we loved Nectar Farm Kitchen. They source all of their ingredients locally and change the menu often. The biscuits are absolutely amazing, as are the chicken and waffles. 

For lunch, we usually brought food with us to the beach, but I absolutely love She Crab soup and I may or may not have snuck off to eat some at Watusi Cafe three days in a row 🙈 For those who don't like soup in the summer (I know, I'm weird), try an açai bowl or poké bowl at Al's Aloha Kitchen

If you love seafood but want to keep it casual, I would definitely recommend Slapfish. The traditional lobster roll, epic shrimp burrito, and shrimp bowl are all mouth-wateringly delicious.

For dinner with a view, the Old Oyster Factory will not disappoint. Just look at this view of Broad Creek-- it's like being in a painting. 

And last but not least, we all know that the best thing to eat on a hot summer day is ice cream! There are endless choices at The Ice Cream Cone in Coligny Plaza. Sea Turtle and Pralines & Cream were our kids' favorites. 

To Do

If you are not a 'sit at the beach all day' person, do not fear! There is still plenty to do in Hilton Head besides going to the beach.

Vanishing Island Tour: My kids still talk about our private boat out to the vanishing island. The tour leaves from the Old Oyster Factory dock, where we were able to bird watch for a bit- there was an anhinga just sitting on a stump (we had never seen one before). Captain Robert was quite knowledgable and he pointed out all the points of interest as we drove along through the Lowcountry Salt Marsh-- truly a wonderful science expedition. He knew where to stop to see all the dolphins, too and wow-- we saw a lot of them! The vanishing island is a large sandbar that's only exposed at low tide each day. It was FULL of starfish, shells, and sand dollars. My son even found a shark's tooth! 

Alligator Tour: My kids are fascinated by alligators, as they are foreign creatures to us Californians. We booked the alligator tour at Sea Pines Resort. There is a fee for cars to enter the resort and the tour was $22/adult and $19/child. We saw a few baby alligators while on the boat, but saw a lot more as we drove away from the parking area-- just basking in the sun near the water. Be careful and don't get too close! 

Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum: While we were at Sea Pines, we decided to climb the 114 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It's set up like a museum, so don't worry about stopping along the way to rest and read up on Civil War history. 

We've visited Hilton Head Island many times since 2020 and we keep going back because we discover new things to do (and eat) each time we go. It's the perfect family friendly beach vacation destination. 

 

 

 




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