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Florida Trip stop number 2: Hilton Head Island, SC

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

My family has come to sort of a tradition to travel over New Year’s and this year we went to Florida. We prefer car trips to flying because there are usually a lot of really interesting things along the way a plane glides over.

On this trip, the first stop we made was in Washington, DC, but we’ll stop here again on our way back so more on that later. The toughest ride of the trip was from Washington to our second stop in Hilton Head Island, SC – about 10 hours with breaks, but in the end well worth it.

Hilton Head Island could be the best seaside resort you’ve never heard of. Tucked away between Georgia and South Carolina, across the intracoastal waterway from I-95, Hilton Head Island is a little sub-tropical paradise for those who find Florida too raucous and Cape Cod – too cold. The island is small enough to bike around its perimeter in a day – along the endless beach that encircles it, if you want. In a stark contrast to skyscrapers that abut the beaches of Miami, and clam shacks on the beaches of New England, the beaches here underline that the ocean is the primary attraction. A flat, gently sloping 100-foot-wide beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The beach is sandy, but the sand is nicely condensed which makes walking and biking on as easy as if it were a boardwalk. The back of the beach is lined by trees, stately villas and an occasional resort, but buildings are separated from each other by dense patches of greenery and are mostly no more than 5 stories high.

Nothing about Hilton Head Island is sedentary though – the interior of the island is lined with shops, malls, restaurants and sprawling new condo developments. Hotels and resorts here are aplenty from motels to luxury resorts, but what sets all of them apart is that the prices here tend to be a lot more reasonable then those in Florida. One reason for that is that peak season here is somewhat shifted to be comfortable for most travelers – the winter here is not as warm as in the Palm coast (temps in the 50s now), but the summer is still too hot for most people. As a result the best times here are fall and spring, which do not coincide with major family vacation seasons. South Caroline’s beaches are popular with college students who go here on spring break though.

I’ve only spent one night here, but I’m impressed – and highly recommend visiting on your next trip Down South.