Hilton Head Island Trip Report
We’ve just spent a few magical days on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and I’ve come to realize that Fall months may well be the perfect time to visit this delightful island. The throngs of summer visitors who love this island so well have departed, the weather is summer-like still, golf courses are lush and green, and it’s the beginning of oyster season! Vacationers visiting Hilton Head Island in the next few months will share the experience with locals who come out of hiding to reclaim their beloved island and celebrate the bounties and warm weather of the fall season.
Top Activities on Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island has an embarrassment of riches in the activities department. Golf, tennis, fishing, biking, boating, and beaching are there in abundance and some of the prime pastimes. The island is probably most well known for their championship golf courses including Harbour Town at Sea Pines Resort, and Robert Trent Jones Ocean Course at Palmetto Dunes. We stayed at Palmetto Dunes Resort meaning we had access to three diverse golf courses, Robert Trent Jones, Fazio and Arthur Hills. We had a glorious day on the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course, with wide fairways, ocean views, and water and sand challenges on most holes. Read our review of top activities on Hilton Head Island, from golf to kayaking to shrimping to excursion to nearby Savannah.
Getting to Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head is located a bit north of Savannah Georgia, and most travelers find it convenient to fly into Savannah airport and rent a car for the hour drive to Hilton Head. It’s just a bit further from Charleston – about an hour and a half drive south. JetBlue has just announced several new nonstop routes from the northeast to Savannah and Charleston so fares should be very reasonable. For snowbirds driving south, Hilton Head is a convenient half hour detour off of Route 95 and one well worth taking!
Where To Stay on Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island offers a wide range of accommodations with luxury resort hotels and deluxe condo rentals making up the majority of popular choices. The island has a number of resort communities with scenic harbors, beautiful golf courses and pristine beaches. We chose to stay in Palmetto Dunes (one of the first island developments) because of its central location, selection of three championship golf courses, and notable resort hotels.
We knew we were in for a fantastic stay when we pulled up to the front portico and Jason, the bell captain, took a quick look at our license plate and said, “I bet you’re wondering where you can catch the game – let’s get you checked in and the van will take you down to Casey’s Sports Bar”. Wow – it’s Sunday, the Pat’s are kicking off in half an hour, and we’ll make it – Jason is the BEST!
Omni Resorts has recently taken over this 320 room oceanfront resort and the upgrades are evident. The lobby has an upscale “beachy” feel and all of the public areas have been freshly painted, refurnished and redesigned. Our room was huge by hotel standards – actually more of a suite, with two queen beds, a mini-kitchen, sitting area, 2 area bathroom and roomy balcony. I loved their bathrobes – kind of a suede material – very comfy.
The resort has three pool areas, one child-friendly with zero entry pool and fountain play pad, a multi-use pool and an adults only pool with private cabana rentals. Miles of pristine beach are just steps away. Food was excellent. But what made or stay most exceptional were the staff at the resort. Everyone we encountered had a smile on their face and a gracious greeting for every guest of the resort. They made us feel like family.
And don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Spa – it’s has just been completely redone and is impressive. The treatment rooms are instantly relaxing and inviting. They’ve done a great job.
Where To Dine on Hilton Head Island
Fine dining is everywhere on the island from local fish shacks to five star restaurants. Whether you crave fresh fish, sweet crustations, southern BBQ or a juicy filet, it’s all here. We had an exceptional dining experience at Alexanders, on Queens Folly Road in Palmetto Dunes. Alexanders has a relaxed chic decor (which includes vintage Harleys) with views overlooking the lagoon, and food that is memorable. We started our meal with a chef-prepared smoked salmon (the chef custom smokes the salmon) and it is divine – best I’ve tasted. We followed that with tender sea bass in a lemon beurre blanc sauce. Every bite was a treat.
And Then Of Course There’s Shopping!
From designer togs, to local crafts, to outlet bargains, there are plenty of places to pick up a memento of your Hilton Head stay. There are two dozen shopping centers and outlet malls tucked behind the graceful oak tree lined avenues. One of my favorite items to pick up for gifts are the traditionally hand-crafted sweetgrass baskets woven by local craftsmen for generations.
Whether you’re looking for an active fun vacation or a relaxed day at the beach with a good book, or a bit of both, you’ll find it all on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.