Six Reasons to Cheer For Conservation on Hilton Head Island

YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE when you first set foot on Hilton Head Island. The maritime forest hems roadways, fairways and walkways, and shades the landscape. Spanish moss waves in the soft breeze. Flowers bloom in January and well into autumn. Wildlife is plentiful and diverse. Nature pervades—from our rolling beach dunes to the vast salt marshes, and the loftiest yellow pine to the deepest black gum pond.

While this large Island emerged as the vital resort and residential community it is today, real estate developers, utilities, and local government forged creative ways to protect significant lands and waters, preserve cultural sites, and add public open spaces.

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(Part 1) Hilton Head Island and Bluffton Put the “Ah” in Spa

From all-day pampering to medical-grade services to unique boutique experiences, Hilton Head Island and Bluffton offer a wide-range of relaxing and rejuvenating options that put the “ah” in spa. Recently, I was able to experience this firsthand (and foot, face, back…) by spending the past two weeks reclining on treatment tables. I learned a great deal more about local spas and realized that each brings something different to the (massage) table.

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Paddling Through Paradise

TALL GRASS AND STILL WATER beckon us to explore Broad Creek—the vast wetland and waterway preserve in the heart of Hilton Head Island. In past blogs we’ve learned that the Creek is the nexus between two geological eras, and the result of some crafty engineering using dynamite. Today we slide into a comfy kayak, sink our paddle into the dark stream, and go exploring.

Ride the Tides

Tides rise and fall almost eight feet in Broad Creek. Caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon on Earth and its waters, tides flood and drain the Creek, nourishing its ecosystem. When you’re kayaking, it’s important to know tidal cycles for three reasons:

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The Big Bang—Island Style

DYNAMITE AND CONSERVATION makes for strange bedfellows—except in beautiful Broad Creek. This 7-mile river through the heart of Hilton Head Island is our largest nature preserve and a favorite ecotourism attraction. But would you believe this entire ecosystem may owe its life to a stick of dynamite?

The Problem with Pluff

The mouth of Broad Creek forms in a narrow channel joining Calibogue Sound. Bram Point, the tip of the Spanish Wells peninsula, guards north bank. Salt marsh adjoining Buck Island fringes the south flank. Twice daily, tidewater from the Sound flows into Broad Creek, and drains out again. The tidewaters transport and deposit millions of tons of sediment day after day. This gray-brown “pluff mud” (silt, sand, plant pieces and anything else that can float) can quickly clog a creek and shut down boat travel.

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Yoga + Paddle Boarding = Fitness Hilton Head Island-Style

It’s 8 a.m. The sun coats Calibogue Sound giving it a stainless steel sheen. A symphony of sounds—from waves lapping against boat hulls to the splash of plunging pelicans—entertains you.

This is summer on Hilton Head and what better way to immerse yourself than to get on the water and go yoga paddle boarding.

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(Part 4) Yoga on Hilton Head: Inversion and Cool Down

Early morning—when your energy is high and the sun is low—is the ideal time to do yoga on Hilton Head Island’s beaches. I like to get up with the sun, but most folks are not contending with 3 children (under the age of 4) and 2 really active dogs. So, I recommend beginning your beach practice between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then following up with a yummy post-yoga breakfast. Depending on which beach you practice on, there are several great places.

* Black Marlin (Favorite Dish: Lump crab and avocado omelette made with egg whites)
* Harbour Town Bakery and Cafe (Favorite Dish: Smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes and diced onion on a toasted whole grain bagel)
* Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe (Favorite Dish: Eggs benedict with hollandaise on the side)
* The Original Pancake House (Favorite Dish: Fruit Crepe)
* Signes Heaven Bound Bakery and Cafe (Favorite Dish: Signe’s signature low-fat apple bran muffin and fruit)
* Skillets Grill and Cafe (Favorite Dish: Egg white omelette with tomatoes, spinach, onions, mushrooms, salsa and guacamole)

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The Heart of Hilton Head Island

THE ONE PLACE that connects every person to nature on Hilton Head Island is Broad Creek. We pass over it on the Cross Island Parkway Bridge and enjoy the best scenic view on the Island. Picture-perfect and slow-flowing, this 7-mile-long tidal river bisects the Island. From the oyster-lined, billowing salt marsh to the secretive wading birds and those spunky bottlenose dolphins, or the solitary angler to recreational boater, all living things depend on the Creek.

A Tale of Two Islands

The study of coastal geology, past sea level changes, and soils show that Hilton Head Island was formed during two different periods of time. Broad Creek was a shoreline and is now the dividing line between millions of years of climatic activity.

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(Part 3) Yoga on Hilton Head: Balancing and Seated Sequences

I believe yoga is a family event. I practice regularly with my husband and daughters (ages 5 months, 2 ½ years and 4 years) and I often teach families with a wide age-spectrum. However, if you want your Hilton Head Island yoga-beach experience to be more peaceful than familial I would recommend checking out one of the many childcare services in the area.

Babysitting Services:

1. Guardian Angels Sitting Service
2. Hilton Head Nannies
3. Companions, Nurses and Nannies

(Also, check out Kids Zone for summer camp options—that way the whole family is getting in shape!)

Now that you are a feel comfortable with Part 1 and Part 2 of your yoga practice, it is time to learn about the balancing and seated sequence.

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Ecotourism Will Be the New Economy

FROM THE EARLY DAYS the idea of responsible tourism has been the Hilton Head Island ethos. The visionary community developments provided the first opportunities for people to experience nature, history and recreation.

Now you can enjoy a wide variety of experiences form one end of the Island to the other, and in the wide waters beyond. Ecotourism—defined as “responsible travel to natural or cultural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”—is growing by leaps and bounds and paddle strokes on Hilton Head Island.

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