5 can’t-miss things to do on Hilton Head Island

Published Date: January 6, 2023

Aerial view of golf course
Hilton Head Island is a dreamy destination, with picture-perfect beaches, warm and friendly people, and plenty of southern charm. Hilton Head Island is a popular vacation spot for travelers looking to soak up some of the year-round sunshine, thanks to the mild, subtropical climate of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. There’s so much to do on Hilton Head Island, whether you love sinking your toes into the sand of one of the Travel + Leisure-awarded beaches, golfing at a world-class course or learning about the history of the Lowcountry. Here are five things to do on Hilton Head Island that you simply won’t want to miss. 

1. Daufuskie Island 

Considered by many to be a getaway within a getaway, Daufuskie Island is located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah and is only accessible by ferry (keep your eyes peeled for dolphins during the 45-minute crossing). Even though it’s only 5 miles long by 2.5 miles wide, this island is packed with things to see and do. The island is rich with history — artifacts suggest the island has been inhabited for at least 9,000 years! Daufuskie has a rustic, slow-paced feel and few cars, making bicycles the best way to get around. Wander white sand beaches, marvel at gorgeous antebellum homes, learn about slave trade history at the First Union African Baptist Church and enjoy the eclectic local arts scene. 

2. Coastal Discovery Museum

Hilton Head Island is surrounded by natural beauty and incredible wildlife. Nature lovers won’t want to miss the Coastal Discovery Museum. This non-profit educational center sits on 58 acres and is dedicated to teaching people of all ages about the flora and fauna of the Lowcountry. Walk among giant live oaks draped in Spanish moss. Explore marshlands along tidal Jarvis Creek. Wander through the incredible Karen Wertheimer Butterfly Habitat. Plus, depending on when you visit, you’re likely to come across special events like farmers markets, native plant sales, art markets and family days. 

3. Harbour Town 

Located in the expansive Sea Pines Resort, Harbour Town is a great place to spend an afternoon. Wander the boutiques, then explore your dining options, including casual outdoor cafes and restaurants serving fresh seafood. If you’re looking to get out on the water, Harbour Town is the perfect place to set up a dolphin-watching excursion, kayak tour or fishing charter. Another can’t-miss at Harbour Town? Climbing the iconic red-and-white-striped lighthouse for amazing views of the whole region.  

4. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge 

Sprawling and lush, the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a must-see for both nature lovers and history buffs. Spread over 4,000 acres, this refuge has 14 miles of trails where eagle-eyed visitors can spot herons, egrets, white-tailed deer, armadillos and even alligators. It’s also considered one of the most important archeological locations in South Carolina, with 115 sites showing proof of early human habitation. The park also has headstones of five Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. 

5. Coligny Beach

Hilton Head Island has plenty of beautiful beaches to explore — 12 miles of beach, to be exact. Coligny Beach is a favorite with both locals and visitors, thanks to its wide stretches of sand, picturesque coastline and family-friendly amenities like changing rooms, restrooms and gazebos with swings. Adjacent is Coligny Plaza, which offers shopping, outdoor dining, ice cream, an entertainment stage and a duck pond. Between the beach and the plaza, it’s easy to spend a whole day here.    

Become a Lowcountry local 

If Southern charm, incredible beaches and natural beauty are just what you’re looking for, consider buying a second home on Hilton Head Island. As a co-owner of a luxury vacation home, you’ll have the perfect place from which to explore this island’s many treasures. 

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Jen Lyons

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