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10 Reasons Why Our Visitors Get Excited About a Vacation to Hilton Head Island

By Hilton Head Insider

“I live in Wisconsin and I can’t wait to get here, especially when the weather is not so great back home. Once I arrive, I always say, “I’ve made it to my happy place!” I can’t wait to walk over the boardwalk and see the ocean. Every morning, I look forward to grabbing my coffee and heading to the beach to watch the beautiful sunrise. Dinner plans are usually somewhere I can watch the sunset. When I’m here, there are always things to do and see and new places to discover!” -Jean M-L


Comments and messages like the example above always tug at our heartstrings. One of our favorite things about sharing the beauty of the Lowcountry with our social media followers and blog readers is getting to hear the very reasons as to why they return to our home year after year. 

Those of you who have visited Hilton Head Island know that there is magic in the air and that our Island is truly special and unique. That’s why we’re so thrilled to share that thanks to readers and real visitors (just like you!), we were just named Top Island in the United States in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the fourth consecutive year!

To celebrate this big news, we asked our social media followers to share what makes them look forward to a vacation to Hilton Head Island. We noticed plenty of common themes when combing through the responses, and came up with 10 of the broad reasons why Hilton Head Island is America’s Favorite Island®.  For each reason, we included some of our favorite comments that inspired this list. Thanks to all of our contributors!

10. We’re One of the Most Family-Friendly Vacation Destinations in the Country

“[Hilton Head Island] is our favorite place on earth; [we’ve] been coming to the Island since 1982. Our young family with two kids and now their families including four granddaughters, they love it too. We love our North Forest Beach house rental, beautiful beach days & great restaurants!” -Kim Bee S.

There’s a reason countless families have been returning to Hilton Head Island for generations. We’re always thrilled to hear from visitors who started visiting when they were young and have since brought their kids, grandchildren, and great grandchildren back to the Lowcountry year after year. Whether it’s your first visit or your 50th, we love helping families make special memories.

Your kids will love the endless attractions that Hilton Head Island has to offer, and so will you. We have a wonderful variety of family-friendly activities, ranging from art and theater workshops, interactive kids’ museums, and supervised recreation programs to pirate cruises, dolphin watch tours, helicopter tours and kayaking—and don’t forget the over 60 miles of leisure pathways you can all bike together!

When it comes to accommodations and dining, we have plenty of family-friendly resorts and restaurants, or if you want the comforts and conveniences of home for a big group, try staying in a vacation home.

Photo by @davidneel51
Photo by @davidneel51

9. You Can Bike Pretty Much Anywhere

“There is nothing like a peaceful bike ride among the natural beauty of the Island.” -Cheryl B-R

Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to enjoy cycling in a remarkable natural setting. Rated as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the American League of Bicyclists, it’s the ideal place to spin your wheels, with more than 60 miles of multi-use leisure pathways connecting you to everywhere you want to go, including our beautiful beaches. And if you’re looking to ride with a group, we have local biking clubs that coordinate weekly rides for bikers of all levels. With nearly 24 bicycle rental shops offering approximately 25,000 bicycles for rent, the wheels are always in motion on Hilton Head Island!

Photo by @lysschris2
Photo by @lysschris2

8. Our Seafood Is Some of the Best Around

“My favorite things are watching the sunrises, being close to the ocean and finally all the great seafood at Hudson’s.” -Judy K-D

Shrimp and grits. Fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell. Steamed blue crab, and a hearty Lowcountry boil. You won’t find seafood like this just anywhere. Here in the Lowcountry, we offer some of the freshest local seafood you can imagine, and if you’re an insider, you already know that the best oysters are available in the months that end in ‘R’. Hilton Head Island is a seafoodie’s paradise, and die-hard fans will want to be sure to check out our Annual Seafood Festival that happens year after year in February. 

Want to learn more about our seafood offerings? We’ve got a full guide to the seafood on Hilton Head Island and an exclusive interview with local celebrity Andrew Carmines of the iconic Hudson’s Seafood and Shell Ring Oyster Company for your reading pleasure.

Photo by @fo.odtrip
Photo by @fo.odtrip

7. You’ll Spot a Dolphin or Two While You’re Here

“The wildlife and marine animals! We don’t live near the ocean, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw a dolphin on Hilton Head Island. It’s a magical place with so much to see and do.” -Amy S. 

When visiting Hilton Head Island, it’s not hard to spot the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in their natural habitat. We know that getting up close and personal with these playful creatures is on nearly everyone’s bucket list, and this is the place to achieve that dream. 

In fact, Hilton Head Island has been named one of the best dolphin-sighting destinations in North America by Travel Channel. With nearly 20 dolphin tour providers on the Island, there’s no shortage of opportunities to safely observe these beautiful mammals from the water. To fully appreciate their beauty and playfulness, read up on our guide to Hilton Head Island’s Bottlenose Dolphins, and be sure to check out the Coastal Discovery Museum to learn from the experts. 

Photo by @hillerjcu04
Photo by @hillerjcu04

6. Getting on the Water Is Smooth Sailing

"Just floating on my boogie board in the ocean and the incredible weather gives me a break from my daily work. I need Hilton Head Island to relax and recharge." -Sheryl R

With some of the warmest water on the east coast, nearly every day is a beach day on Hilton Head Island! Set sail on a fishing charter or hop aboard a dolphin-watching cruise, grab a paddle and head out on a kayak or paddleboard adventure. Or, try surfing, sailing or water skiing. Whether you prefer to be in the water, or on it, there’s a Hilton Head Island water activity for everyone.

Photo by @natashamd84
Photo by @natashamd84

5. We Have Stretches of Sand for Days

Summer goes on forever at Hilton Head ?. The air is warm and the sand is like flour. The trees are old and you feel like you are home.” -Susan H-L

12 miles of pristine, wide open sandy beaches, as a matter of fact! On Hilton Head Island, you can lay in the sand, frolic in the surf, walk along the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean and bask on some of the best beaches in the United States. From South Beach to Folly Field Beach, Forest Beach to Driessen Beach, and every beach in between, it’s no wonder Hilton Head Island has been recognized as one of the top 10 family beaches in the country consistently, year after year, by some of the most respected travel publications in the world. 

Photo by @kate10der
Photo by @kate10der

4. We’re Home to Some of the Greatest Outdoors

“The nature!! The island is so lush and clean! The sea life-dolphins, starfish and sand dollars ashore! And the vegan restaurants, such as The Studio and Delisheeyo! Also, that it’s very dog friendly! Awesome place!” -Angela E-F

The attention given to preserving the environment here on Hilton Head Island has become the blueprint for other sustainability efforts around the country. During your visit, notice the absence of bright street lights, tall business signs and brightly-painted buildings. Absorb the Island’s appreciation for the environment as you travel down 60 miles of public use trails connecting you everywhere you want to go, and help us protect our beautiful and sensitive coastal environment by making the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Promise.

Photo by @katiegoodmurph
Photo by @katiegoodmurph

3. Our Landmarks Are Pretty Iconic

“Love going to the Salty Dog on the island and getting gifts. Nothing better than waking up and walking along the clean beaches.” -Lisa U.

Hilton Head Island’s Harbour Town Lighthouse is truly iconic. And while the candy cane-striped beacon is instantly recognizable to anyone who has watched the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing from home or in person, it’s not the only landmark that signifies Hilton Head Island as a unique and special place. While we totally recommend taking a journey to the top of the Lighthouse and exploring the sights and shops of Harbour Town, there are plenty of options for iconic Hilton Head Island landmarks to explore. 

On your next visit, be sure to visit Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park to see and learn about the first self-governed Freedman’s town in America and to learn more about the vibrant Gullah community that calls our region home. 

And, if you want to be instantly recognizable as a Hilton Head Island lover, check Lisa U’s suggestion, and stop for an ice cream and legendary T-shirt souvenir from The Salty Dog Cafe. They offer delicious food, treats, and fun activities for the whole family.

2. We Have 24 Championship Golf Courses

“The golf courses and atmosphere are second to none. Have been visiting the island for many years now, both to watch the RBC Heritage and for golf trips with my buddies. My kids tried golf for the first time ever on the island too, such special memories. As a golf lover, it is my paradise. Love HHI!” -Jim G. 


Yes, it’s true. With 24 world-class golf courses directly on Hilton Head Island and 33 total in the Lowcountry region, we are a golf-lover’s paradise. Home to the world-renowned PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage presented by Boeing, golf is often one of the first things that comes to mind when many people think of Hilton Head Island, and we wear our badge as #PlaidNation with pride. 

Tee off on championship courses designed by legendary course architects such as Robert Trent Jones Sr., Pete Dye, and Jack Nicklaus. Experienced and novice golfers alike are guaranteed a great time on the greens of Hilton Head Island golf courses.

1. The Views Are Out of This World

“Most relaxing place on earth! So wonderful to be that relaxed with family surrounding! The food is amazing! Sunsets! Oh wow!” -Louisa B-B

Take one look at our social media profiles (FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest) and you’d be hard pressed to to disagree with our claim! Our coastal environment consistently delivers some of the world’s best sunsets, sunrises, ocean views, wildlife observation opportunities, lush greenery, and so much more. Don’t forget your camera—you’ll want to remember and share the beauty. But, don’t just take our word for it. Enjoy some of the following photos which are much more convincing. And when you’re awed by our beauty, don’t forget to share your vacation photos with us on social media by using the hashtag #LowcountryLife. 

Let’s make memories! Whether you’re on a friends’ trip or spending quality time with your family, Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to rejuvenate, explore, and relax. Browse where to stay, download our 2020 Vacation Planner, and get packing.

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