Hilton Head Island Outdoor Vibe

About Jessica Gardo

Jessica Gardo grew up on Hilton Head Island and has a passion for her community and the outdoors. Since a child, she has been inspired by the beauty of Hilton Head Island's beaches, its natural landscapes, including the lush coastal marshes, its beautiful oaks, the stately palmettos and tall sea pines, plus the array of outdoor activities available on her Island home. In her youth, she was an avid tennis competitor, but now finds enjoyment by jogging and walking the beaches and pathways, paddle surfing and learning how to fish. In her occupation as a marketing and public relations manager for the Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau, she loves being an ambassador of all the Island has to offer, from the outdoors, to the cuisine, to the amenities, to the cultural events and activities. She believes that Hilton Head Island fully lives up to its reputation as being a destination that offers rest, relaxation and rejuvenation for all who visit and stay.

Paddle Boarding Hilton Head Style

Hilton Head Paddleboarding

Instructor Glen Barroncini, instructor at H2O Sports, paddle boarding around Hilton Head Island.

So the newest craze on Hilton Head Island is paddle boarding.  Seems like everyone is doing it now…or at least everyone knows about it.  Called the sport of, “Hawaiian Kings,” it is essentially paddling on a surfboard (slightly fatter and heavier), bringing together the joy of being out on the water and gliding on its surface, almost like “walking on water,” and the discipline of paddling, akin to kayaking, but standing up.

I have been paddle boarding and paddle surfing for three summers now and I love it.  On Hilton Head Island, paddle boarding means getting out on our coastal ecosystem of creeks and estuaries. Once you get the hang of it (doesn’t take long to do) you just can’t beat being on the water on a paddle board for great exercise and a great tour of the Lowcountry’s marine environment. Personally, I really enjoy standing up on a board, and having a higher visual perspective over the marsh landscape.  In addition to the verdant greens and golden colors of the marsh, plus the pale Carolina blue skies and silvery grey East Coast waters that surround you, paddlers around the Island will also enjoy glimpses of snowy egrets, blue herons, pelicans, dolphin, otters and schools of fish.

Paddling in the early morning or late evening is a wonderful way to begin or end your day in the summer. Cooler temperatures and mild wind across the water are helpful. The core fitness workout is deceivingly good (you don’t feel it as you are paddling, but when you arrive home you will know that you have gotten some good exercise,) plus it simply is a peaceful, “natural” excursion.

Paddle surfing, as opposed to paddle boarding, is more challenging than flat water paddling.  Paddle surfing, also called, “stand up,” or “SUP” combines the art of surfing waves whilst paddling along. It means actually getting out onto the beach, into the surf and into the oncoming waves of the ocean.

Hilton Head Island, typical of the East Coast, doesn’t have swells like the Pacific, but, if you’ve never surfed, you would be surprised how powerful and strong a 3-4 foot waves can be. The sport is a ton of fun, but if you are a novice, I suggest getting instruction before venturing out – the combination of a big, heavy board, a paddle, and oncoming wanes can be tricky if you aren’t prepared.

There are several boat landings for paddle boarding access if you bring your own equipment to the Island.  Or, there are numerous outdoor adventure companies that now provide rental boards, instruction and guided tours.

Hopefully while on the Island you will get your nerve up and try paddle boarding, or even better, if you are more daring, paddle surfing.  I think you will have a lot of fun experiencing something new and the pleasure of Hilton Head Island’s marine environment.  Why not, you are on an Island!

Jogging on the beach…

Hilton Head Island beach

The beaches on Hilton Head Island are perfect for jogging, walking, etc.

One of the joys of living near, or visiting, the ocean is being able to easily, and daily, enjoy its assets…the beach, the water, the seafood, and the tranquility of the gently rolling surf.  One of the ways that I like to get out and enjoy our great seashore is by jogging in the evenings after work along the beach.

On Hilton Head Island, we have 12 miles of beaches that stretch north and south along the ocean, so you can spend an hour or more, jogging in any direction, and really get in a good workout.  The surface quality of the sand is perfect for running – it is hard-packed, fine- to medium grain sand, which is firm enough that you can develop a good stride and not turn your ankles. The sand is also very forgiving on the body – more so than pavement.

My favorite part about running on Hilton Head Island’s beaches is the scenery.  I love all the colors provided by the natural setting and the pristine quality of our shores.  Jogging along you can smell the fresh sea foam and gaze at the clean surf washes onto the light-brown colored sand. Along the dunes, I love watching the sea oats waves in the wind, set against a green tree canopy of live oaks, pines, and palmettos.  Then, there are the playful seagulls and sandpipers darting along the waters’ edge – I cherish these little guys – and almost like clockwork, I usually catch a glimpse of dolphin swimming close-by in the ocean.  To top off this scenic experience is the beautiful Carolina blue sky, signature of South Carolina, which combined with the other natural beauty, can soothe any mind from its daily concerns and pressures.

To get in a good jog on the Island’s beach, one has to plan a little and think about the tides – Hilton Head Island’s tides rise and fall approximately seven to eight feet every six hours.  At high tide, the surf can rush all the way into the dune line, thus leaving little to no dry, hard-packed sand for a run – unless of course you are willing to either plow through soft sand or drench your shoes and socks in the surf! Also, if you are going to run consistently during your stay, keep in mind that the tide advances one hour ahead each day. Thus, checking a tide chart, like the one provided on the Salty Dog’s website, is a good way to be prepared.

Jogging on Hilton Head Island can be a year-round activity, but the temperature and time of day for a run is worth consideration.  The average year round temperature on Hilton Head Island is 71 degrees, but that varies seasonally, ranging from lows in the 20s during mid-winter, to highs in the mid- to upper 90s in the peak of summer (July, August). Humidity also can cause the air temperatures to seem chillier, or hotter, than expected.

My personal advice for preparing for the weather is to wear the right clothing (breathable fabrics, visor, sunglasses, sunscreen, light jacket or tights when chilly), and during the summer months, to avoid running on the beach from noon to 2 P.M. At this time of day, the sun is at its peak, and a jog on the beach can be very, very hot, which may cause a potential heat stroke if you aren’t careful.  Make sure to have water handy, either in a jogging belt, or have a supply ready when finished, such as back at your hotel room, villa, or in your car.  Alternatively, I would recommend early morning or later evening runs during the summer when you can catch a beautiful sunrise/sunset, adding to the enjoyment and helping you feel refreshed and revived.  Happy jogging everyone!


Crusin' Hilton Head Island

Taking a leisure bike ride on one of Hilton Head Island's many great pathways.

Story by Chamber Staff…

One of the favorite activities for families visiting our area is riding bicycles on Hilton Head Island’s extensive network of paved pathways. You’ll find more than 80 miles of pathways on Hilton Head Island, about 50 miles of which parallel the major thoroughfares on the island and are open to the public. Many visitors tour significant portions of the island on their bicycles. The pathways are also great for walking, jogging and inline skating.

Here’s a tip: You don’t have to load your bikes onto your vehicle to enjoy biking on our island. We have several members who will be happy to rent bikes for you to use during your visit. The local bicycle rental companies can provide bicycles that are well suited to the beach environment. Most rental company charges include delivery and retrieval at the end of the rental period. For more information about renting a bike, contact one of our members among our listings for Bicycle Sales, Rental & Repair.

Visitors can access beach parks, points of interest and historic sites via the pathways. Coligny Plaza is just off the pathway that parallels Pope Avenue and the whole Shelter Cove area is accessible via a bridge under William Hilton Parkway near the entrance to the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Bicyclists can reach other shopping areas along William Hilton Parkway as well. pathways

The specific beach parks accessible via the pathways include: Alder Lane, Coligny Circle, Burkes Beach Road and Folly Field Road. The pathway also passes by the Audubon-Newhall Preserve on Palmetto Bay Road.

Adventurous bicyclists can make a great loop of the island, beginning at Sea Pines Circle following William Hilton Parkway, Spanish Wells Road, Marshland Road, the Cross Island Expressway and Palmetto Bay Road back to Sea Pines Circle. There is a special pathway to take bicycle and pedestrian traffic around the toll plaza.

Have fun riding around the island on our pathways from dawn to dusk. During the summer the sun usually sets around 7:30 or 8:00 pm. The street lighting on Hilton Head Island doesn’t usually illuminate the pathways, so be careful if your ride keeps you on the pathway after sunset.

Here’s a link to a map of Hilton Head Island’s paved pathways. Or you can stop by our Welcome Center and pick up a printed pathway map. Open seven days a week from 9:00am to 5:30pm, our Welcome Center is located on the right side of US Hwy 278, just past Mile Marker 1. We share the building with the Coastal Discovery Museum, so when you see their sign, you have found us, too. The staff at our Welcome Center will be happy to answer any questions and can offer other suggestions for your visit.