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How To Stay in Shape on Vacation

By Hilton Head Insider

Vacations were made for rest and relaxation. They’re for lounging poolside with a good book, basking in the afternoon sun at the beach, and ordering an extra scoop of ice cream guilt-free.

Yet, many travelers want to balance vacation extravagances with the desire to stay in shape. Keeping up your fitness routine during a trip doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every morning. Here on Hilton Head Island, there are lots of ways to stay active and have fun while you’re at it. Check out ten of the most popular activities on Hilton Head Island that burn calories, too.


With eight of the world’s top 100 tennis resorts and camps, Hilton Head Island is one of the world’s best vacation destinations for tennis players. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a pro to hit the courts here! Sharpen your skills with a lesson from an expert instructor, or try your hand at Pickleball. Pickleball combines aspects of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong for a lighthearted, easy sport that’s great exercise and great fun.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 200 and 300 calories while playing tennis for thirty minutes.


Running isn’t just exercise. For some people, it’s an essential part of life. Running can help clear your mind and relieve stress. And here on Hilton Head Island, it’s a popular way to catch the morning sunrise. Hit the beach for your run and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean. Stop to catch your breath – and snap a #LowcountryLife photo – and breathe in the salty ocean air. There’s running, and then there’s running on Hilton Head Island.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 250 and 400 calories running for thirty minutes.


Ready for some fast numbers? On our 12 by 5 mile island there are over 60 miles of connected multi-use trails, nearly 30 bicycle shops, and approximately 15,000 bicycles for rent. Biking is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get around Hilton Head Island. And it just happens to be great exercise! Biking is also an eco-friendly way to explore the lush, beautiful Lowcountry landscape. Find inspiration for your own Hilton Head Island adventure by checking out these hidden gem bike routes.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 250 and 350 calories while bicycling for thirty minutes.


With over 33 championship golf courses, Hilton Head Island is the destination for South Carolina golf vacations. But did you know that golf is also fantastic exercise? If you’re interested in keeping fit on vacation, forgo the cart in favor of carrying your clubs. Wear a fitness tracker during your round of golf and we bet you’ll be surprised by how many steps you log. Golf is also a great way to work on strength, balance, and hand-eye coordination.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 150 and 250 calories while playing golf (and carrying clubs) for thirty minutes.


Do you know how to hang ten? If not, Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to learn. Our warm waters and mild waves are ideal for beginner surfers. You can rent all the equipment you’ll need while here on the Island, and even sign up for Hilton Head Outfitters’ popular Surf School to learn the basics. You’ll feel great after getting a little exercise and learning a new sport!

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 300 and 400 calories while surfing for thirty minutes.


There’s the great outdoors. And then there’s the greatest outdoors: Hilton Head Island. Gorgeous protected wetlands, wildflower fields, and forests surround hiking paths on Hilton Head Island. A quick trip across a bridge to Pinckney Island won’t disappoint; the 3.5-mile Main Trail, bordered completely by water, is one of the area’s most scenic hikes. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, dolphins, and other wildlife during your outing.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 180 and 260 calories while hiking for thirty minutes.


As beautiful as Lowcountry is by land, it’s perhaps even more beautiful by water. Kayaking and canoeing are great ways to get out on the water, get a little exercise, and take in picturesque views along the way. The calm marshes and lagoon system of Hilton Head Island make for smooth kayak trips. Or, visit the nearby charming Southern town of Bluffton and kayak the gorgeous May River.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 150 and 220 calories while kayaking for thirty minutes.


For travelers who want to maintain their regular workout routines during vacation, fitness classes are a great option. Most Hilton Head Island resorts feature onsite health and wellness programs, and the island is also home to many yoga studios, gyms, and health clubs. “Nama-stay” in shape with sunrise yoga classes at the beach, or break a sweat doing Pilates, barre, spin, or CrossFit.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 120 and 180 calories during thirty minutes of yoga, or between 200 and 320 calories during thirty minutes of high-impact aerobics.


Hilton Head Island is home to over twelve miles of some of the most gorgeous beaches in the United States. The warm, calm waters surrounding our beautiful island are perfect for a leisurely swim. During the Island’s official beach season (April 1st through September 30th) you’ll find designated swimming areas at Alder, Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field, and Islanders beaches. These areas are clearly marked and stationed with lifeguards. See a map of Hilton Head Island beaches here.

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 180 and 270 calories while swimming for thirty minutes.


If you like kayaking and surfing, you’ll love paddle boarding. Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a popular Hilton Head Island water activity, since it’s both a great workout and a fun way to explore your surroundings. Explore the Calibogue Sound, Skull Creek, Broad Creek, or the waters surrounding Daufuskie Island during a guided SUP tour. Or, opt to rent a board and venture out on your own. For an added challenge, test your balance during a SUP Yoga session!

Fit Fact: The average person will burn between 300 and 400 calories while stand-up paddle boarding for thirty minutes.

With so many different activity options your Hilton Head Island vacation can be as energetic or as relaxed as you like. You’ll return home feeling refreshed and revitalized—and daydreaming about your next Lowcountry getaway. It’s never too soon to start planning your next visit! Check out the season’s hottest deals here.

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