Destination Spotlight: Hilton Head Island
By Bethany Tap
It’s only twelve miles long and five miles wide, but Hilton Head Island still manages to contain everything you could want. In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, this island provides the ultimate retreat, a vacation filled with fun in the sun along the ocean. It’s one of the Top 10 islands in the United States according to Trip Advisor, and a premier place to relax or find adventure.
The island boasts 24 world-class golf courses, 350 tennis courts, and over 250 restaurants. There are also tons of ways to enjoy the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, from guided kayak tours to paddle boat lessons. Visitors can go fishing, tubing, waterskiing, surfing, sailing or parasailing. You may even see dolphins off the coast on your own, or on a dolphin-watch cruise.
Once you visit, you may not want to leave. Hilton Head Lakes is a community located just minutes from the island. It’s the perfect place for your well-deserved retirement or for a quick getaway. It’s the area’s only boatable lakefront and golf community, built around 155 acres of freshwater lakes and canals. With 20 miles of shoreline connecting the community, you can visit your neighbors by boat while you enjoy the beauty of the foliage and fauna. Amenities at Hilton Head Lakes include an 18-hole Tommy Fazio-designed golf course and The Lake Club, which has a pool, private beach area, and fitness center.
On the island itself you’ll find even more amenities. Go bird watching or biking. Visit the Penn Center or the Coastal Discovery Museum. You can attend a theater performance or a music concert. Plus, there are many guided tours that will offer you a look at the history of Hilton Head Island and its timeless beauty.
Although it was only recently incorporated into a town in 1983, Hilton Head Island has a recorded history dating back to the 1520s, when the Spanish were the first Europeans to set foot on the island. The French Huguenot colonists sought shelter from persecution in their homeland in the 1560s. But the island got its name from William Hilton, who, in 1663, sowed the seeds for the first plantation there.
While little is known about the native Escamacus Indians who lived at Hilton Head Island when William Hilton arrived, there are beautiful remnants of a civilization that existed prior to recorded history. The remains of strange shell rings measuring 9 feet high and 240 feet across can still be found on the island, although their origins are as mysterious as those of Stonehenge.
Centuries later, in 1956, the first resort was built at Hilton Head Island, and the area has been a place for tourists and residents to relax ever since. Whether your idea of a vacation is lying out in the sun and reading a book or magazine, or if you like to get out in the water and swim or surf, there is plenty to do at Hilton Head Island, and plenty of time to do it. And if you don’t want to leave this place, so rich in history and beauty, remember that Hilton Head Lakes is nearby, waiting for you.