Sea Turtle Season on Hilton Head Island
Sea Turtle Season in the Lowcountry
Working Together to Welcome Sea Turtles to Our Beaches
May through October is nesting season on America’s Favorite Island®
Humans are not the only ones who love the 12 miles of the wide-open, pristine beaches of Hilton Head Island. This beautiful, sensitive coastal environment also plays an important role in the conservation of endangered sea turtles. Every year, between May and October, we welcome loggerhead turtles to our beaches where they build hundreds of nests and lay eggs. During the nesting season in 2021, sea turtles made 283 nests here. In true Lowcountry fashion, our community works together to help these visitors nest in safety and make sure the hatchlings can safely make the trek from our warm beaches to their new ocean home.
Two volunteer organizations, Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island and Turtle Trackers, play an important role in helping turtles during nesting season. On average, a turtle lays 120 eggs in a nest two to eight times over a nesting season, and these organizations tag, track, and monitor it all with morning and evening patrols. These groups organize beach cleanups and educate the public on how they can help these special species thrive on Hilton Head Island during the nesting season.
Keeping turtles safe is a proud tradition on our island and you can join in on your next visit to Hilton Head Island during nesting season. Sea turtle hatchlings use the light of the moon to get to the ocean, so artificial lighting visible from the beaches can be confusing and make it impossible to get to their sea home.
That’s why it’s important to:
- turn off lights at night
- close window shades
- fill in holes on the beach
- do not disturb any nests you might find
A Town of Hilton Head ordinance protecting sea turtles requires all indoor and outdoor light fixtures that are visible from the beach to be shielded, so the lights are either not visible or turned off, between 10 pm and 6 am during nesting season from May 1 until October 31.The ordinance also prohibits digging holes in the sand more than 12 inches deep, leaving personal belongings on the beach overnight, or leaving trash behind. This gives turtles a clear path for laying nests and getting back to the ocean. Most important, never disturb a sea turtle nest, a nesting sea turtle, or a hatchling. For more information on the town ordinance, visit here.
Request a free copy of the Hilton Head Island Vacation Planner and learn about all the attractions, activities, unique history and places to stay on Hilton Head Island.
Download Our App
Plan and Navigate your getaway on Hilton Head Island with our Island Compass app. Search for activities, restaurants, and attractions, get travel deals, view trip ideas, and create your own personalized itinerary.