Hilton Head: An Island Of Activity

While many people may think that Hilton Head is just an oasis of beaches and golf resorts, it is so much more than that, especially to the locals who want to show off the very best Lowcountry has to offer.

Without a doubt, the most iconic landmark on the island is the Harbour Town Lighthouse. A must-see on any trip to Hilton Head, the lighthouse is located in Harbour Town, surrounded by Sea Pines Resort’s picturesque yacht basin. Before shopping around in the gift shop, climb 114 stairs to be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the harbour, a nearby golf course and on a clear day, you can see far across the island without binoculars.

The walking tour of the lighthouse is all about its history, where inside you will find pictures, artifacts, newspapers articles and trinkets from the lighthouse’s beginning and information on the island. The Harbour Town Lighthouse is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day and admission is $3.50. Kids under five climb for free. For more information, call 843-671-2810 or visit www.harbourtownlighthouse.com.

Harbour Town itself features more than two dozen clothing and home décor boutiques, custom gift and crafts shops, signature jewelry stores and art galleries. If you’re here before the holidays, pop into the Harbour Town Christmas shop and get in the spirit. Dining and ice cream options are also available. There are plenty of other activities to keep you occupied during your stay here.

activities_b_h20sportsbDolphin Watching

149 Lighthouse Rd.
Harbour Town Yacht Basin
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Also based in Harbour Town is H2O Sports, which offers parasailing, jet ski rentals, paddle boarding, kayaking, boat tours and more. If you fancy a lesson on dolphins, climb aboard and find out how playful and endearing these amazing creatures are.

In the water are local and migratory dolphins, who in November and December, usually travel in smaller groups. Locals who have been out on the boat enough will notice Zorro, is a local dolphin, notably because of her scrapes and scars on her dorsal fin. Our tour guide was Frank and he knew quite a bit about these beautiful bottle nose dolphins.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

activities_110216b_seapinesLawton Canal Rd.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

This 605-acre nature preserve is truly one of the island’s hidden gems. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, picnicking and wildlife viewing opportunities (don’t forget the alligators in the lake) throughout the preserve. While some visitors go with a mission in mind, like a scenic ride down the rice dike or a walk along the wildflower fields, it is encouraged that you get lost in nature. Don’t worry, you’ll stumble upon a trail and find your way back eventually.

Check out 4,000 year old Indian Shell Ring, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Vanishing Swamp, a secluded forest, where surface water rises and falls through the seasons. When walking through, you’ll come across four lake—Lake Joe, Lake Thomas, Lake Mary and Lake Chapin—that although are man-made, are the largest open freshwater resources on the island.

activities_ruinsaStoney-Baynard Plantation

85 Plantation Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Also at Sea Pines is the tabby ruins of the historic Baynard estate, which includes the main house as well as slave quarters that were once part of a grand plantation. The Baynard house was built by Captain Jack Stoney around 1793 and became the pre-Civil war home of cotton planter William Edings Baynard.

Known as Baynard Ruins, both houses have been preserved and are currently listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Originally built of timber and tabby, a mixture of oyster shells, lime, and sand, visitors can still see the remnants of oyster shells in the foundation of the house.

This activity is a quick one, but definitely worth it to see some of Hilton Head’s history. As with any ruins, numerous ghost stories and reports of paranormal activity have been said to surround the area.

activities_110216a_southbeachmarinaSouth Beach Marina Village

232 South Sea Pines Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC

South Beach Marina Village is the home of the Salty Dog, including the Salty Dog Café and gift shop. Locals say that once you’ve been to the Salty Dog, you’ll be hard-pressed to visit anywhere else in the country or internationally without spotting one of their T-shirts. The marina cove has plenty of places to dine and shop including Land’s End Tavern, The Wreck of the Salty Dog and Jake’s Pizza. A nice little pit stop for lunch and souvenir shopping, those interested in villas and vacation rentals can inquire at the marina.

Check out our Hilton Head travel guide—with tips about food, golf and lodging.

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Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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