- South Carolina
Hilton Head Island is a place for total relaxation on beautiful beaches with a heaping side of history and culture.
You’re more likely to find a protected sea turtle nest than a high-rise building on the beautiful island of Hilton Head. Beyond the sustainable ideals and beautiful beaches, there is plenty of rich culture and deep history to uncover. Explore Hilton Head Island for an incredible vacation.
A Bicycle Tour
With more than 160 kilometers of bike trails, Hilton Head Island is an award-winning biking paradise, earning the Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community title from the League of American Bicyclists. Explore the secrets of the island by renting a bike. Starting in Harbor Town, ride along the Sea Pines Resort and Harbor Town Golf Links golf course, and catch stunning views of the ocean.
At the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, park your bike and walk for a while. Among old rice fields, swamps and little lakes, this nature preserve offers a window into the fascinating wildlife of the island. Not to miss at Sea Pines are the mysterious shell rings from an early civilization. Today, you can view the fascinating artifacts of Hilton Head history in the preserve and on the north end of the island off Squire Pope Road in Greens Shell Park.
Continue your biking tour north through the Shipyard Plantation, and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
Island History and Art
After your biking tour, wander through the old plantations for a taste of local history. Hundreds of years ago, many of the landscapes on the island were rice or cotton plantations. The history of the descendants of former slaves, known as the Gullah or Geechee, is still alive on the island and is preserved at the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island. If you’re interested in learning further about Gullah culture and heritage, Gullah Heritage Tours offers fascinating island tours led by fourth-generation Gullah natives.
While visiting the area, take time to explore Mitchelville Freedom Park, a recently preserved historic site and the location of the The Freedmen’s Town, the first post-Civil War, self-governed settlement for freed slaves in the United States. Formed in 2005 by a diverse group of Hilton Head Island residents, the site is intended to preserve a portion of the historic area. Hike the trails and walk to the gazebo at the end of a dock overlooking the marsh.
Offering five or six temporary exhibitions of local and national artists annually, the Coastal Discovery Museum is the perfect place to stroll and discover all the local artists. With indoor and outdoor exhibits, activity centers in the Sea Island Classroom, the History Timeline Exhibit and Museum Store onsite, plus 11 different tours and cruises, the museum is a fantastic way to become familiar with the island's history and ecology. One favorite exhibit is the butterfly enclosure, housing 13 species of native butterflies. You can also attend evening presentations about loggerhead sea turtles.
Hilton Head’s natural beauty shines on the island's beaches. Hilton Head is home to more than 19 kilometers of beaches, and it is easy to explore them all by bike. Coligny Beach Park, a local favorite, is near the heart of downtown Hilton Head Island. Coligny Beach Park’s long stretch of sand is an invitation to relax. Voted as one of the top family-friendly beaches in America, this is the ideal place to while away the day.