Mostly Cloudy   62.0F  |  Forecast »

Hilton Head Island for Beaches, Boardwalks and More

Trek to South Carolina's sandy beaches, including Folly Field and Coligny beaches, for a family adventure complete with sun and sand

Miles and miles of flat, sandy beaches make up the coast of Hilton Head Island. Broken off from the South Carolina mainland, it stretches into the Atlantic Ocean just enough to have gentle waves lap its edges. The result? Plenty of places to relax in the sun while your kids run through the surf!

Let's beach hop

There are four well-marked public beach access points along the 42-square mile island. Parking is available at a low cost (bring quarters!), but depending on which beach you're visiting, it may be a trek to get from your car to your perfect sunny spot.

Folly Field Beach is a favorite for surfers. Farther south, Coligny Beach is probably the most popular overall with its volleyball nets, swings and other kid-friendly activities.

No need to pack beach chairs or umbrellas – they're available to rent, along with beach bikes, water tricycles and other fun water toys. As for keeping your kids busy, the waves do all the work. The tides bring in hermit crabs, starfish, sand dollars, blue crabs and shrimp, to name a few.

Island attractions

Get to know the island at several stops.

The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn combines exhibits on the history of the area with lessons about its ecology. There are three boardwalks where your kids can see crabs, oyster shells and other local wildlife. The museum is open daily, year round – only special exhibits, like the butterfly enclosure, and guided walks charge fees.

Harbour Town is located on the far south end of the island. Spy the island's iconic 90-foot red-striped lighthouse jutting into the sky, plus find shopping and many restaurants.

While not technically on Hilton Head, it's worth hitting the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, right off the highway leading into Hilton Head. The 4,053-acre refuge is home to a variety of birds. But your kids might be more interested in its American alligators! Pack extra water and snacks for your visit, since they aren't available once you're in the park; entry is free.

Besides driving, one way to make your way to the beach and to one of the many community parks that dot the island is on two wheels. The island has over 60 miles of family-friendly pathways. Make sure to leave in enough time to get back to your hotel if you're biking at night. By local ordinance, there are no streetlights, so it's easier for everyone – including the area's favorite local resident sea turtles – to get around.

A variety of tours are available on the island including guided kayak trips, standup paddle boarding and sea cruises.

Local eateries

Skip the restaurant chains and dine at these Hilton Head originals.

  • The Sea Shack: Bills itself as "Not Fancy, Just Good!" That's what you'll find at this seafood hotspot. Popular items include the gator bites (yup, gator) or fried soft shell crab.
  • One Hot Mama's: For Southern-style South Carolina barbeque, this is the place. Hickory-smoked chicken, pork and ribs are all on the menu.
  • Captain Woody's: Feel like you're one the islanders at Captain Woody's, where the favorite item is oysters. You can have them shucked, raw or steamed.
  • Hilton Head Ice Cream: Have a scoop of homemade ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet in cool flavors like bananas Foster, watermelon sherbet, cayenne chocolate, Superman and much more.
  • Skull Creek Boathouse: Located on the banks of the creek, there are picnic tables and lots of indoor/outdoor seating to choose from. While the view can't be beat, your kids may be more interested in the fish fingers and fries!
  • Old Oyster Factory: Also on the water, this nicer restaurant is a good place to relax at the end of a long day exploring.

Visit HiltonHeadIsland.org to start planning your visit. Select "Become a Hilton Head Insider," under the "Offers" section, to find the best deals on lodging, activities and dining – right on your smartphone.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Passport Rules for Kids

Passport Rules for Kids

If you're planning on traveling with your family outside of the country, they'll need a passport. Find out what you need and how to get passports for children.

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Tips for Saving Cash on Flights

Find out how your family can save money when flying abroad and in the country.

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Children

Thought about taking your kids for a trip abroad? You should! Here are tips to help make your cultural excursion easier – and cheaper – than you might think.

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Staying Home Alone: How to Know When Your Child is Ready

Whether you just want to run an errand or need to hit the gym for a break, it could be time to let your tween stay home alone. Here are a few ways to know your kid is prepared.

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Craft Roundup: Get Ready for the Beach

Whether you're hitting the pool or lake, southeast Michigan is packed with watery summer fun. These projects are inspired by (and ready for) this very topic!

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

Social Savvy: Raising Kids Who Can Make Connections

At each stage of development, there are things parents can do for their kids to help them with social skills and making friendships.

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Explore the Grand Canyon in Arizona

If you haven't seen the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, you owe it to yourself and your kids to go.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement