South Carolina's southernmost point, Hilton Head Island is a blissful close-to-home year-round beach paradise. Over 12 miles of uninterrupted hard-packed sand beaches are ideal for long romantic walks, family bike rides, and exciting wildlife viewing.
Though Hilton Head has seen an influx of beachfront housing and resort developments, eco-friendly and aesthetic guidelines limit all buildings to five stories in height. Restrictions on light and motorized watersports curb sound and light pollution, offering visitors and locals the perfect star-studded night skies and small-town tranquility.
Fly into the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) for a weekend getaway of relaxation and pristine beaches on Hilton Head Island. Once you land, you’re just a short drive to luxury full-service resorts, beautiful beach-front rentals, and alfresco fine dining with breathtaking views.
Most of the beaches on Hilton Head are connected, creating the image of one long white sand park. When it's low tide, hop on a bike and explore all the beaches in one afternoon. Here are some of the best beaches on Hilton Head Island for every type of vacationer.
Folly Field Beach Park
Popular with locals as well as visitors, Folly Field is a public beach that offers a bit more room to spread out. The sand is clean and beautiful, and the sunrise view is worth waking up for.
Amenities include paid parking by the hour, restrooms, outdoor showers, water stations, and a lifeguard station. There is also a ramp to push strollers and for handicap access.
The Beach at The Westin
Located at the backside of Port Royal Plantation, next to a quiet residential area, The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa offers a full-service oceanfront experience without having to worry about finding parking or beating large crowds. Access to the secluded beach is limited to Westin hotel guests, as well as 100 beach club members. Because of its exclusive access, you will find more private space to stretch out in a luxurious private cabana with a cold cocktail. After a refreshing swim, paddleboard, or kayak in the Atlantic Ocean, you can just head up to your room for an afternoon siesta.
If you are not staying at one of the beachfront resorts on the island, you can still avail similar facilities at the lively Coligny Beach. The family-friendly public beach offers clean restrooms, private changing stations, and lots of porch swings to relax in the cool shade. Coligny is a short walking distance to some of the most popular beachside bars on Hilton Head Island, as well as the new 10-acre Lowcountry Celebration Park. Here you can enjoy Hilton Head Island Children's Museum and a playground featuring a kid-friendly replica of Captain William Hilton's historic ship that took him to the island centuries ago.
People who live on Hilton Head try to keep Islanders Beach a local secret. This is where you can get a typical local atmosphere and watch residents spending the day with their families and four-legged friends. There are grills for cooking your fresh catch and a picnic pavilion to enjoy an afternoon eating and drinking by the water.
Parking is by permit only with some metered spaces, so it's best to ride a bike directly on the beach.
The south end of the island is generally more crowded in the summer, making Driessen or Bradley Beach also a preferred spot among the locals. There is a long boardwalk over a salt marsh for easy access to the beach, as well as lots of sand for a game of beach volleyball. There are plenty of shells, nesting crabs, and a playground to keep the kids entertained on Driessen's sandy beach. It is advisable to bring shoes to protect your feet on the boardwalk and shell areas.
Driessen is one of the larger beach parks on the island, so it's easier to find an area to socially distance.
During high tide, Singleton Beach still maintains a large beach area. Located in the middle of the island, this is also a popular local hang out. Bring a snack-filled cooler and watch the scenery unfold revealing colorful corals, loggerhead sea turtles, pelicans, snowy egrets, bald eagles, and dolphins. You never know what you will find!
The sea turtle nesting season along South Carolina's coast runs from May through October. Depending on when you arrive in the season, you may get to see hundreds of turtle nests on the beach or baby hatchlings making their way to the sea.
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