Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island or Hilton Head is a resort island located in Beaufort County, South Carolina. It is 20 miles (32 km) north of Savannah, Georgia and 95 miles (153 km) south of Charleston, South Carolina. The island gets its name from Captain William Hilton. In 1663, Captain Hilton identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which he named "Hilton's Head" after himself. The island features 12 miles (19 km) of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2010, an estimated 2.25 million visitors pumped more than $1.5 billion into the local economy.The year-round population was 47,821 at the 2000 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 275,000. Over the past decade, the island's population growth rate was 32%.
The beginning of Hilton Head as a resort started in 1956 with Charles Fraser developing Sea Pines Resort. Soon, other developments followed, such as Hilton Head Plantation, Palmetto Dunes Plantation, Shipyard Plantation, and Port Royal Plantation, imitating Sea Pines' architecture and landscape. Sea Pines however continued to stand out by creating a unique locality within the plantation called Harbour Town, anchored by a recognizable lighthouse. Fraser was a committed environmentalist who changed the entire configuration of the marina at Harbour Town to save an ancient live oak. It came to be known as the Liberty Oak, known to generations of children who watched singer and song writer Gregg Russell perform under the tree for over 25 years. Fraser was buried next to the tree when he died in 2002. The Heritage Classic was first played in Sea Pines in 1969, and has been a favorite on the PGA tour ever since.
Hilton Head Island is often referred to as the second largest barrier island on the eastern seaboard after Long Island (which is not actually a barrier island but two glacial moraines). Technically, Hilton Head Island is only half barrier island. The north end of the island is a sea island dating to the Pleistocene epoch, and the south end is a barrier island that appeared as recently as the Holocene epoch. Broad Creek, which is actually a land-locked tidal marsh, separates the two halves of the island.
The terrain of a barrier island is determined by a dynamic beach system with offshore bars, pounding surf, and shifting beaches; as well as grassy dunes behind the beach, maritime forests with wetlands in the interiors, and salt or tidal marshes on the lee side, facing the mainland. A typical barrier island has a headland, a beach and surf zone, and a sand spit.
The Hilton Head Island area is home to a vast array of wildlife, including alligators, deer, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, manatee, hundreds of species of birds, and dolphins.
The Coastal Discovery Museum, in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, patrols the beaches from May through October as part of the Sea Turtle Protection Project. The purpose of the project is to inventory and monitor nesting locations, and if necessary, move them to more suitable locations. During the summer months, the museum sponsors the Turtle Talk & Walk, which is a special tour designed to educate the public about this endangered species. To protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles, a town ordinance stipulates that artificial lighting must be shielded so that it cannot be seen from the beach, or it must be turned off by 10:00 p.m. from May 1 to October 31 each year.
The waters around Hilton Head Island are one of the few places on Earth where dolphins routinely use a technique called "strand feeding" whereby schools of fish are herded up onto mud banks, and the dolphins lie on their side while they feed before sliding back down into the water.
The saltmarsh estuaries of Hilton Head Island are the feeding grounds, breeding grounds, and nurseries for many saltwater species of game fish, sport fish, and marine mammals. The dense plankton population gives the coastal water its "murky" brown-green coloration.
Plankton support marine life including oysters, shrimp and other invertebrates, and bait-fish species including Menhaden and Mullet, which in turn support larger fish and mammal species that populate the local waterways. Popular sport fish in the Hilton Head Island area include the Red Drum (or Spot Tail Bass), Spotted Sea Trout, Sheepshead, Cobia, Tarpon, and various shark species.
Two airports service the Hilton Head Island area: Hilton Head Airport, located approximately 5 miles (8 km) from all Island resorts, and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, located approximately 45 miles (72 km) south of the Island.
Hilton Head Island Airport
Located on the north end of the Island, Delta Express from Atlanta and US Airways Express from Charlotte offers daily flights to the Hilton Head Airport.
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
The nearest international airport is the Savannah/Hilton Head Island International Airport, located 45 minutes from the Island. Continental Express, Delta, Delta Connection, US Airways, United Express, Northwest and American Eagle offer daily flights into Savannah, including direct non-stop service from over 17 US cities. All flights are met by ground transportation companies.
Allegiant Air offers non-stop/one-way flights to Ft. Lauderdale.
Vision Air offers non-stop service to Destin, FL.
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport Shuttle
Airport Express is now offering shuttle service to/from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Georgia to 6 different stops in Hilton Head Island, SC and 2 stops in Bluffton, SC.
Hilton Head Island Bike Paths
The Town of Hilton Head Island provides nearly 53 miles of public pathways and nature trails on which pedestrians and cyclists may enjoy the diverse destinations and activities provided by this wonderful place to work and play. In addition, there are more than 50 miles of pathways and shared roadways within the private developments. These private pathways are for the use of residents and renters of the respective communities and their guests. Please contact your rental agency or the individual development's security office regarding their policy on entering and exiting the community.
The pathway map highlights the existing public pathways. Many kiosks are located along the pathways with an island-wide map on one side, and a localized map of the area on the other.
The Town of Hilton Head Island contains 12 miles of the world's finest beach. At low tide, it is the ideal opportunity for your family to enjoy the coastline on your bicycle. Public beaches can be accessed via the beach parks highlighted on the pathway map.
The Town of Hilton Head Island is proud to provide a network of parks that capture the unique character of the Town's natural environment and recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors. While using the pathway system, please visit and enjoy these facilities. Public restrooms are available in most parks.