Hilton Head Island, situated off the coast of South Carolina, is a popular beach destination for locals and tourists alike. With 12 long miles of pristine beaches, visitors can do everything from swimming to fishing to kayaking. Golf is a big attraction on Hilton Head Island, but it’s the beaches that keep people coming back.
Thanks to Hilton Head Island’s gorgeous weather, the beach season lasts a while — from April 1 until September 30.
The landscape looks like one big white sand beach on Hilton Head because the beaches are connected. During low tide, you can ride a bike and explore all the island has to offer. Check out some of Hilton Head Island’s best beaches for every kind of vacation.
Coligny Beach is so far Hilton Head’s largest and most popular beach. This award-winning beach park located at the end of Pope Avenue boasts the most parking and accessibility. For first-timers, Coligny Beach is the showcase beach and an introduction to all South Carolina beaches up and down the coast.
As kids walk to the beach, they can have fun in the park’s splash fountain. While there isn’t a typical pier here, there is a short boardwalk that connects the parking areas to the beach as well as restrooms where you can get ready for the day. There are also swings and gazebos with lounge chairs.
Coligny Plaza, which is just across from the beach, has a variety of dining options, a movie theater, and shops. The best way to cool off after a hot day in the sun is to grab dessert at places like Island Fudge Shops and Frozen Moo Ice Cream. As if that weren’t enough, tourists can also rent equipment for biking, rollerblading, fishing, and engaging in other water sports.
Beachgoers can pick up beach chairs, coolers, sand toys and other stuff at Coligny True Value Hardware. Coligny is also a short walking distance to the 10-acre Lowcountry Celebration Park. The beach is also home to a kid-friendly replica of Captain William Hilton’s historic ship, which brought him to Hilton Head Island centuries ago.
A favorite local beach is Driessen Beach, also known as Bradley Beach, because it has lots of parking and isn’t too crowded. With its charm and location, Driessen draws visitors and locals alike.
There are several amenities provided at this beach park, and children can be entertained on its playgrounds. For simple access to the beach, a long boardwalk winds through a natural setting over a salt marsh.
Beach matting is also present to make it easier for those who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities to move around on the sand. Even grills and pavilions are readily accessible for the ultimate beach picnic.
Beachgoers who don’t want to grill but love freshly cooked food and cold drinks can visit oceanfront walk-up restaurants, which serve burgers and drinks.
Yet, a word of advice from the locals: it takes a while to get to the beach. Consider taking a wagon if there is a need to transport a lot of beach gear. It is also advisable to bring shoes to protect your feet on the boardwalk and shell areas.
Folly Field Beach Park
Folly Field Beach Park sits along the northern half of Hilton Head Island and is located in a primarily residential neighborhood. The public beach has plenty of room to spread out. The sand is fine, clean and enchanting, and the sunrise view is worth getting up for.
The park is accessible via Starfish Drive, a charming neighborhood close to the oceanfront that seems to have clusters of beach houses which blend in perfectly with the lush, green environment.
There are no skateboards, bikes, or rollerblades allowed at Folly Field Beach in Hilton Head. Guests can find showers, umbrella rentals, and perhaps even casual beach volleyball and flag football matches. Restrooms, outdoor showers, water stations, and a lifeguard station are additional amenities. Lastly, a ramp is provided for strollers and handicap access.
All amenities are a first come, first served system, so visitors should plan carefully. It’s a good idea to be there early or stay late to better enjoy a leisurely stroll down the shoreline with only a few other beachgoers in the area.
After a long day of fun and games, vacationers may also visit Shelter Cove, a magnificent outdoor shopping complex close by. Wayback Burgers, Poseidon, and Tio’s American Kitchen are just a few of the numerous restaurants that can whet your appetite.
Hilton Head locals tend to keep Islanders Beach a well-kept secret. This is where tourists can experience a typical local atmosphere and observe residents spending time with their families and pets. There are grills for cooking fresh catch and a picnic pavilion for relaxing by the water for the afternoon.
Parking, however, is by permit only with some metered spaces, so it’s recommended to ride a bike directly to the beach.
The playground at Islanders Beach Park is excellent for children who can’t swim or don’t want to. It’s also fantastic because it frees kids from being limited to resort activities that aren’t as kid-friendly.
One thing here that people don’t typically find at other beaches is their toy lending bin. Guests can get free books from a birdhouse-shaped stand with a sign that says “Take me to the sea.” This works very much like the toy lending system in that it asks the borrower to provide a replacement book for every book they take out to read.
Alder Lane Beach
A dog-friendly beach, Alder Lane Beach is a great place for a quiet getaway from the typical beach scene, since it’s much less crowded than nearby beaches. This beach is set next to the Marriott Grande Ocean Resort, off South Forest Beach Drive.
During the official beach season, pets are allowed on the beachfront, provided they must always be on a leash or under positive voice control at all times. Owners are required to properly dispose of pet excrement as well.
Beach mats stretch down near the water, so it’s accessible to everyone. There are 22 metered parking spaces, outdoor showers, and restrooms.
The beach is also famous for its excellent fishing opportunities and the presence of dolphins swimming in the waters. Alder Lane Beach is a delightful place to spend a day having fun in the sun and unwind.
On Hilton Head Island, Palmetto Dunes is undoubtedly one of the finest beaches to be found, located on the northern section of the east oceanfront.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort boasts a world-class golf experience and an 11-mile lagoon system with countless opportunities for outdoor adventures, such as kayaking, fishing, and tennis.
Palmetto Dunes also offers Harbourfest during the summer, which includes arts and crafts, live music, and a stunning fireworks display over the marina every Tuesday night. Harbourfest is held seasonally at Shelter Cove Marina on Broad Creek, and there are plenty of exquisite restaurants and stores in Palmetto Dunes, on both the oceanfront and the creekside.
There’s also “The Dunes Buggy,” which runs at the busiest times of the year. This ride stops at The Dunes House, Shelter Cove Harbour, Shelter Cove Towne, Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center, and The Plaza.
Singleton Beach continues to have a wide spread of sand during high tide. Positioned at the island’s center, Singleton Beach is perfect for families interested in experiencing the wonders of Hilton Head Island right out their front door. Both the Chaplin Park and Shelter Cove Town Center are at your fingertips. And, for those who love dogs, Singleton Beach has Hilton Head’s top dog-friendly park.
This beach is a cool hangout spot where beachgoers can relax and admire the scenery unfolding, revealing colorful corals, pelicans, loggerhead sea turtles, snowy egrets, bald eagles, and dolphins.
From May to October, South Carolina’s sea turtle nesting season, visitors have the chance to see hundreds of turtle nests on the beach or baby hatchlings making their way to the sea.
The Beach at The Westin
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa provides a full-service oceanfront experience without having to worry about crowded areas and limited parking spaces. This abundance of parking space is thanks to its convenient location at the back of Port Royal Plantation
At the resort, guests will find a variety of inspired amenities, including private beach access, three swimming pools, and four restaurants. After a refreshing swim, they can paddleboard or kayak in the Atlantic Ocean.
Kids can play in the Westin Family Kids Club while their parents relax at the Heavenly Spa by Westin™.
Only Westin hotel guests and beach club members have access to the exclusive beach. There are more private spaces to spread out in an opulent private cabana with a chilled cocktail due to its exclusive access.
Fish Haul Beach Park
Fish Haul Beach is possibly one of the island’s best-kept secrets and is tucked away in Bay Gall, a historic Gullah neighbor on Hilton Head Island. Because it isn’t essentially a swimming beach, Fish Haul Creek Park isn’t popular among tourists. And that’s why it’s so unique. Visitors won’t find beach chairs and umbrellas along the shoreline.
This beach is ideal for individuals looking for a peaceful getaway. They can walk around, watch birds, and relax since it overlooks Port Royal Sound.
Fish Haul Beach Park’s name already gives away the main attraction, but visitors can also enjoy crabbing and shell-collecting, and there is a ton of free parking available at this park.
This place also has a lot of alligator warnings, which is a stark reminder that the surrounding area is still largely swampland.
Burke’s Beach has possibly the easiest access of all the northeastern beaches in Hilton Head, South Carolina, with metered parking, seasonal lifeguards, outdoor showers, and a pleasant trail to the water. Visitors can enjoy different activities like paddle boarding, fishing, and kayaking.
This beach attracts visitors with a serene atmosphere as there are no residential properties on it. Flying kites and surfers can also be seen in the landscape.
Nearby is the Sea Salts Beverage Company, where one can take a load off with a tasty rum punch.
A stunning beachfront community located along the southern tip of Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island is South Beach.
As opposed to Downtown, South Beach offers a quieter stretch of oceanfront that has fantastic views of Daufuskie and Tybee Islands.
Public beach access is available along Sea Pines Drive between Belted Kingfisher and Painted Bunting Road. Even though the beach is mainly used by people who live in the South Beach villas and other homes on the block.
It takes only ten minutes to reach Harbour Town after a long day spent at South Beach. A central meeting place and beacon, the Harbour Town Lighthouse nearby served as the foundation for this town’s community.
The extensive island history during pivotal eras in American history is preserved inside the lighthouse.
Experience a Fun Beach Vacation at Hilton Head
Even though beachfront homes and resort projects have sprung up all over Hilton Head, environmental and aesthetic standards still allow only five stories for all structures. The pristine starry night skies and quiet, small-town life are guaranteed for visitors. Thanks goes to to island regulations and restrictions on light and motorized water sports for the clear skies.
The beaches of Hilton Head continue to provide a relaxing getaway from the daily grind. Given the miles of pristine white sand, the clear waters, and the breathtaking surroundings, it’s not surprising that so many people travel to this coastal paradise every year.
Whether searching for a tranquil location or an exhilarating adventure, there is something for everyone at these beaches. Come explore these Hilton Head Beaches and discover for yourself everything it has to offer.