Go Hilton Head Island

A Dose of Vitamin “Sea”

The #1 island in the Continental United States, as ranked by Travel + Leisure, and the #3 island in the United States as voted by Condé Nast Traveler, is neither out in the middle of the ocean nor removed and cut off from the mainland. Its local population amounts to just over 40,000 while its annual tourist count exceeds 2.5 million. Some families dine at the same restaurant in the same booth when they visit. Couples who come every year for their anniversary stay at the same resort and bike their usual path to their favorite cafe.

For me, a trip to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is not complete without a visit to the Hilton Head Social Bakery for breakfast when I order a plain croissant (heated with butter and jam) and a cappuccino with a tiny heart sprinkled in the shape of cinnamon on top. Maybe you know those Hilton-Headers who are loyal to their favorite island spots, but if you want to discover a new favorite place of your own, you only need explore some of the best the island (HHI or simply HH to regulars) has to offer. Even as someone who has vacationed to HH for over ten years, I still find hidden gems and new venues that bring me back every time. Hilton Head is larger than it sounds, which is why when compiling this guide, I closely examined my preferences with new discoveries. In doing so, I found some new favorites I will definitely recommend to those looking for their sense of home on Hilton Head. After all, tis the “sea”-son for an exciting, unforgettable adventure.

 

Eat

Ombra Cucina Italiana

Treat your tongue to Executive Chef Michael Cirafesi’s critically acclaimed, refreshing take on Italian eats at Ombra Cucina Italiana at the Village at Wexford. Take one bite of their Fusilli Alla Puttanesca, their handmade Neapolitan fusilli with an out-of this world white wine and tomato sauce, and see why the Lowcountry celebrates the marriage of flavors bursting with “Ombra!” ombrahhi.com

 

Santa Fe Cafe

The finest southwestern flair–and the best homemade multi-colored chips—is served with spice at Sante Fe Cafe, which embraces the evolution of Tex-Mex cuisine. Live music enhances your dining experiences next to a large oak fire on their outdoor rooftop cantina, and if you think you’ve tasted the best soup this side of southwest, think again. Sante Fe’s famous Painted Desert Soup is an Instagram post and a satisfied stomach waiting to happen. santafehhi.com

 

Coast

For the island’s best seaside fare with an unmatched view, Sea Pines Beach Club’s Coast delivers on their name with oceanfront seating and the freshest seafood in this corner of the island. Serving up beach bar, lunch, and dinner menus in the Sea Pines neighborhood, Coast’s character is directly linked to its open-air, oceanic view. coastoceanfrontdining.com

 

Play

Coligny Beach Park

“Seas” the day at Coligny Beach Park, located at the end of Pope Avenue off Coligny Circle and open Monday through Sunday 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. If you want to feel like you’re relaxing on your own private beach, Burkes Beach off of William Hilton Parkway at the end of Burkes Beach Road provides peerless, serene beach access with an unobstructed view of the Atlantic. hiltonheadislandsc.gov

 

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

The island’s second largest draw is its upscale, award-winning golf courses which have welcomed notable golfers and enthusiasts alike. Golfers or “gophers” (“Caddyshack” anyone?) should make a point (or a put) to play on the international stage of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Hailed as “South Carolina’s Golf Course of the Year” for several years, Palmetto Dunes boasts three championship golf courses designed by renowned architects, Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills and George Fazio. palmettodunes.com

 

ZipLine Hilton Head

When you exercise, do you imagine yourself as a superhero or a character in an action flick? That sensation exceeds reality at ZipLine Hilton Head. Indulge your inner adrenaline junkie and take to the skies during an exhilarating twohour eco-adventure and tour. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re flying through the trees and over the water, this is a must-do. ziplinehiltonhead.com

 

Stay

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort

No other resort on the island tends to an 11-mile lagoon, 25 (yes, 25) tennis courts, and three championship golf courses generously spread across more than 15,000 square feet. Sink into a true Carolina state-of-mind and feel like you’re own CEO with the Omni’s limitless amenities and leisurely scenery. omnihotels.com

 

Westin Hilton Head Island Restort & Spa

A fountain featuring a bronze crane welcomes guests home to the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa just off Two Grasslawn Avenue. Even the lobby invokes the immediate reflex of “Ahh,” a consistent feeling from check-in to check-out of your tropical retreat. An oceanfront or a pool-front view from your room’s private balcony reveals the hotel’s extensive luxury landscape from the pool deck, restaurants, and bar to the beach itself, raked every morning to make the sand as fluffy as the Westin Heavenly Beds. westinhiltonheadisland.com