3 Animals to Spot on Hilton Head's Beaches
One of Hilton Head’s defining characteristics, what sets it apart from other coastal vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach, is the way it has embraced its natural beauty. Strict covenants have protected the island’s green spaces and marshes from over development, and the overall aesthetic has been to build with nature, rather than over.
The result is an island rich in abundant wildlife. And here we’re not just talking about tourists. We mean alligators that peer out from murky marsh waters, deer that gallop beside bike paths with carefree abandon, and egrets that soar majestically over our saltwater estuaries.
But perhaps no part of Hilton Head Island offers the mesmerizing wildlife experience its beaches can. Here, where the land meets the sea, you’ll find a whole menagerie of Lowcountry critters. Some leap through the waves, some crawl through the sand. But they all remind us that Hilton Head Island is special because it remains wild.
No less an authority than the Travel Channel recently named Hilton Head Island one of the 10 Best Dolphin Sighting Destinations in North America. And with good reason.
Dolphins are common in our waters at several times of year, as they make their migrations from the warm waters of Florida and back every year. During March and April, you’ll catch them as they make their way north, and you can see them on their return trip in November and December. But you’ll still spy them throughout the year, leaping through the waves just offshore from our beautiful beaches.
You’ll notice several signs and abundant literature along our beaches letting you know to turn your lights off after dark during certain times of the year. This is due to Hilton Head Island being a major nesting site for leatherback sea turtles.
Female sea turtles make their way to our beaches in droves each year in early May to lay their eggs, which begin to hatch around July. Head out to the beach at night (without a flashlight, of course) and you can see these tiny sea turtles taking their first steps out to the ocean, drawn by the light of the moon.
Hilton Head Island’s miles of hard-packed sand make it the perfect place to take your four-legged friend out to splash in the waves or chase a tennis ball. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, they are not permitted on the beaches from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. When they are permitted, they must be either on a leash or under positive voice command. You must clean up after your own pet and it’s obviously illegal for them to harass wildlife.
But be prepared to make a few friends – locals and visitors alike love bringing their dogs out to socialize and sniff around. If you’re looking to bring your pooch to Hilton Head Island, check out the many pet-friendly options available from Vacation Company. They have an entire “Fido Friendly” page dedicated to amazing dog-friendly vacation rentals, from oceanfront cottages to lavish resort-style homes.