Hilton Head Travel Guide

USA  #2 in Best South Carolina Beaches
Credit

Courtesy of Sean Pavone/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Best Things To Do in Hilton Head

If there's one thing for certain, it's that Hilton Head has an enviable set of firm, white-sand beaches to choose from. You should go to the celebrated Coligny Beach first, and for your next beach day, head to the quieter Alder Lane. When you're ready to learn more about the flora and fauna that call this island home, spend a few hours at the Coastal Discovery Museum or the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. And if you want to work up a sweat, sign up for a round of golf on one of the island's many championship courses or a tennis lesson on one of the revered courts at the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. 

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 30, 2018

  • #1
    Coligny Beach
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    #1 in Hilton Head
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Coligny Beach is by far the most popular beach in Hilton Head. The shoreline is scenic as can be and the adjacent beach park features a wealth of amenities perfect for beachgoers of all ages. Not only are there restrooms and showers but also separate changing rooms, plenty of benches and gazebos with swings to shade yourself from the sun. There's also loads of eateries just a stone's throw away from the sand (think coffee shops, ice cream shops and seafood restaurants) and should you forget an umbrella, you can rent that here in addition to beach chairs. What's more, parking is free.

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  • #2
    Daufuskie Island
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    #2 in Hilton Head
    Beaches, Golf, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Golf, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Daufuskie Island offers Hilton Head vacationers a getaway within a getaway. The island, located west of Harbour Town across the Calibogue Sound, feels like a world away thanks to its remote nature. Daufuskie is only accessible by ferry, has few inhabitants (around 300 full-time residents), is almost completely devoid of cars and is awash in hundreds-year-old Spanish moss oak trees and crowdless beaches. The island is also a historical hub, so much so that it was added to the list of National Registry of Historic Places in 1982. 

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  • #3
    Mitchelville Beach
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    #3 in Hilton Head
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're looking for a quiet shore in Hilton Head, you'll no doubt fall in love with Mitchelville Beach (also known as Fish Haul Beach Park). Located on the northeastern end of the island near Hilton Head Island Airport, Mitchelville Beach is more secluded and more rugged than its southern counterparts (think Coligny and Folly Field). Here, crowds are few and far between, pathways are unpaved and the coastal flora extends down well into the shoreline, creating an enchanting beach experience. What's more, in the area surrounding the beach, you'll find restrooms, an outdoor shower and some picnic tables.

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  • #4
    Harbour Town
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    #4 in Hilton Head
    Cafes, Shopping, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Hilton Head's Harbour Town district a pocket inside the island's gated Sea Pines resort community, is home to the iconic candy-cane-striped lighthouse that you've likely seen splashed across many of the island's postcards. Aside from the famous lighthouse, you'll also spot lavish yachts dotting the marina, as well as a smattering of gorgeous rental properties, not to mention the Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the prestigious RBC Heritage golf tournament. 

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  • #5
    Coastal Discovery Museum
    View all Photos
    #5 in Hilton Head
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're wanting a break from the beach, or need a family-friendly activity to keep your kiddos on their toes, make time for a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum. The museum aims to educate visitors on Hilton Head's ecological and cultural history, offering up educational exhibits, expert lectures, live animal presentations and more. The museum can be found on the 68-acre Honey Horn property, where visitors will also be greeted with trails, gardens and beautiful live oaks as well as a butterfly habitat, where you can find a flurry of native butterflies from May to October. For a real adventure, consider joining a tour, some of which include guided kayaking excursions, dolphin cruises (bottlenose dolphins are known to swim through some of the island's salt marshes) or take a trip to the museum's barn, where you'll get a meet and greet with rare Marsh Tacky horses.

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  • #6
    Driessen Beach
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    #6 in Hilton Head
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    When locals want to escape the crowds of Coligny Beach, they often retreat to Driessen Beach. Located on the northeastern end of the island, Driessen offers a wide shore that stretches as far as the eye can see. The beach is so big that even if it's crowded, you'll still likely find a roomy patch of sand to plant your towel. And just because the beach does see fewer visitors than Coligny doesn't mean it skimps on amenities. Here, you'll find restrooms, outdoor showers, a picnic pavilion, a playground, grills, bike racks and lifeguards during summer. Plus, resorts line Driessen so if you're in need of refreshments, you can always dip inside one of the hotels' restaurants for a bite to eat.

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
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    #7 in Hilton Head
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Hilton Head doesn't have a zoo, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in wildlife. To catch a glimpse of some of the island's longtime residents in their natural habitat, head to the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. Spread out across 4,053 acres, the refuge comprises Pinckney Island, Corn Island, Big and Little Harry Islands, Buzzard Island and many small hammocks. It's important to know that Pinckney Island is the only island open for public use, though there's no shortage of things to do. On Pinckney, visitors are treated to 14 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails that weave through freshwater ponds, salt marshes and maritime forest. While here, you'll likely spot a variety of birds (the refuge houses 250 species) as well as alligators, turtles and deer, among other wildlife. While here, be on the lookout for the White Ibis, and if you're visiting during the summer, the multicolored Painting Bunt, the latter of which is a species at risk of endangerment. 

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Golf
    View all Photos
    #8 in Hilton Head
    Golf
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Golf
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Often referred to as "The Golf Island," Hilton Head isn't lacking in pristine fairways. Some offer an enviable coastal lookout while others are shrouded by mossy live oaks. All the biggest names in the game designed courses here, including (but not limited to) George and Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and Willard Byrd, among many others. There are 30 championship courses to play on and 24 are open to the public. Your preferred course may be wherever you decide to hang your hat, but if you want to venture off your resort, you'll be presented with a host of gorgeous greens.

    ...Read More »

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