Stuff to do on Hilton Head Island
This page originally started as an information flyer for a family reunion. These represent my recommendations to my family. It duplicates information elsewhere on the site but presents it in a different way. We hope it will help to get you off to a good start on your visit to our beautiful island.
Prices are as of April 2018 and subject to change - please verify before committing.
Most of these companies take a credit card for advance reservations and have a 24 hour cancellation policy. Policies vary if something must be cancelled due to weather (refund, reschedule). Be sure to ask.
For the toddlers The Sandbox interactive museum is for infants to age 9. They have a range of exhibits in which the kids immerse themselves. Admission is just $6.00, For an unlimited pass it's just $75. 843-842-7645.
For the younger set, there is the Island Playground, an indoor facility just off the island. Cross the bridges and turn left at the first traffic light. Open play for children two and up is $9.95, under two is $6.95. Open Monday through Saturday at 10AM to 6PM Mon, Fri, Sat and 2PM Tu, Wed, Thur. closed Sunday. Adult supervision required. but they have Wi-Fi and TV.
Kids Waterfun Day is a program run by Commander Zodiac at the South Beach Marina. It involves a number of activities including beach games, boat rides, scavenger hunt and so on. It's for ages 4 to 12 and is on Thursdays from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Parents need not attend but are welcome to watch (why not use the time for something adult?). Cost is $40 per child.
For the little pirates, there are two interactive
pirate cruises: Pirates of Hilton
Head, from Harbour Town marina and
Pirate Expedition from Palmetto Bay
marina both of which sail on authentic looking pirate ships.
The Bubble Gum cruise is operated by Gregg as well. It's a fun nature cruise with lots of singing and partying. It departs from Harbour Town marina on the ship Vagabond on Thursdays and Fridays in the summer at 9:30 AM, returning at 11:00. Cost is $20 cash only kids under three are free. No reservations are accepted, so get there early and buy your tickets at the dock. Parents must accompany the kids.
Shannon Tanner is a favorite of many regular visitors. He entertains with sing-a-longs and on-stage appearances by children. He performs a free show at the gazebo in Shelter Cove. Monday through Friday. Starting May 27, 2017, he will perform two one-hour shows nightly at 6:30PM and 8:00PM. Free. You can see him perform on You Tube here. Tuesdays includes arts and crafts, food and fireworks courtesy of Harbourfest, a weekly celebration at Shelter Cove.
The Gypsy kid's cruise is a 1½ hour cruise tour of our marine environment. Kid's will learn to throw a cast net, will likely see wild dolphin, learn about salt marshes and estuaries, will see a crab pot pulled up and will fish for sharks. Cost is $25. Departure from the south Beach marina - times vary with the tides.
Coligny Plaza has a kiosk area with a stage and offers a variety of entertainment such as magic, crafts, music. Evening entertainment in summer from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Free.
The Salty Dog in Sea Pines has Dave Kemmerly, Bruce Crichton and others entertaining on the docks from 6 to 10 PM nightly. Ice cream, pizza, and outdoor barbecue are available for sale along with tee shirt, clothing and gift shops. Also located here is a web cam that posts live pictures on the web so your friends can see you there. Starting as early as 11:00 AM they have other activities for kids, such as magicians, face painting, a chalk wall, story book time, tie dying, children's music, etc. Free.
Crabbing is entertaining for kids. All you need is bait (chicken necks or any stinky meat), a piece of string and a bucket. Find a place with salt water, tie the string around the bait and throw it in the water. Before long a crab will start feeding on the bait and you can slowly pull it out of the water and drop it in the bucket. If you use a net you can get at Wal Mart or wherever you will not lose as many.
Or you can go out on the Crabber J and catch and release crabs as you look for dolphins. Cost for a 1¾ hour trip is $20 adults, $15 ages 3-12 and $5 under 3.
Lawton Stables in Sea Pines has pony rides for seven and under (55 Lb. limit) at $10. Daily from 9AM to 4PM and a small animal farm which is Free. You can also feed the horses in the paddocks apples or carrots you bring. They also have trail rides for family fun at a cost of $65 for a one hour ride ($55 off season). Minimum age is 8.
Tammy Jane is a small shrimp trawler offering a trawling expedition particularly suited to children 6 and older. It provides an interesting look at nature and the inhabitants of our waters. They trawl for shrimp and pull up whatever end up in the nets, which they will display and discuss. The trip is three hours - 9AM to Noon or 1PM to 4PM and costs $40 for adults and $20 for 12 and under. The kids will learn all about shrimp and shrimping.
Mermaid Encounter is new and wildly popular. Reserve in advance to avoid disappointment. Kids will see a "real" mermaid swimming alongside the boat and will learn a lot about beach ecology. Or do a mermaid photo shoot.
The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey horn Plantation often has programs aimed at kids and are usually reasonably priced. Activities vary and are posted on their calendar (click on any activity for details).
There are many clinics and camps for kids listed in Kid's Camps. The Island Recreation Center runs programs ranging from surfing or swimming lessons to sports camps and they provide a Kid's Night Out for five to 13 year olds, where, from 6 to 10 PM, they will swim, engage in crafts, see a movie, play games and eat pizza. Parents do not attend. Only on May 13, June 17 and July 15 and Sept. 16 (2016). Fee is $25.00 per child. At the Rec. center at 20 Wilborn Rd. on the north end near the high school. Their complete catalog is here, but is difficult to navigate.
Shelter Cove attracts many visitors on Tuesday nights June 18 to August 13 2013 from 7:00 to 10:00 PM for fireworks, food, crafts and entertainment for kids. Activities include the Summer Jams concerts at the Shelter Cove Community Park at 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Free. Food and beverages will be available for sale. On Tuesdays plan to walk a considerable distance to parking if you don't get there early. There are some interesting shops with unique offerings to keep the adults entertained. On Fridays from June21 to August 16, 2013, enjoy a Jimmy Buffet style concert featuring Shannon Tanner and the Oyster Reefers and street performers. Parrot Palooza starts at 5:00 PM and goes 'till 9:00.
Sea Pines plantation offers family activities. It costs $8 per car for a day pass, which provides parking just inside the main gate and a cute shuttle to take you to: Harbourtown, where you can see big yachts and browse shops or get something to eat; South Beach, where you can shop, enjoy entertainment in the evening, and get something to eat or drink; and the Sea Pines Beach Club, one of the island's nicest beaches with restaurant, bar and showers available. Also, see Gregg Russell, above.
Fun for the family
Be sure to check out our new page "Free Activities".
is a way for a family to enjoy nature on the water. Go as a group or join a tour. All you need to know is here. There are many companies that offer kayak rentals and tours. Here are some of them.
H2O Sports 877-290-4386 Harbourtown. 1½ hour guided tours $40 adults, $25 under 12.
Hilton Head Outfitters offers guided tours and rentals in the Palmetto Dunes lagoon system , which has 12 miles of very calm waters. They have on-line reservations or call 843-785-2449. Rentals are: Single kayak - $24.99 for the first hour, $12 additional hours; double kayak $39.99 and $12. They also rent canoes.
Jarvis Creek Water Sports
843-681-9260 Jarvis Creek behind the Crazy Crab North end
provides another location with calm waters. Tours and rentals. 2
hour tour is $35 and they recommend going at lower tides to see the maximum
wildlife. Rentals are $15 single and $30 double for the first hour, less for
longer periods. They also rent Hydro Bikes
OneHHI has kayak tours out of the Palmetto Bay Marina (post hurricane). They also have sea cat tours. 843-684-2004.
Outside Hilton Head
has two locations: Shelter Cove Marina and Hudson's Restaurant . They provide dolphin watches, kids' summer camp,
fireworks, fishing, Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge and Daufuskie Island. they
have guided tours and kayak rentals. A 2 hour tour is $40, 12 and under are $20
with a $10 discount at their Broad Creek location.
for independent touring and dolphin watching. This is not for everyone, as some experience is very desirable and the ability to read nautical charts and keep an eye on the weather is necessary. There are all kinds of boat rentals, but for family fun consider renting a pontoon boat, which is like a floating patio. Here are some operators.
Commander Zodiac rents small sailboats:
Hobie and AMF Sunfish out of south
are among the most popular pastimes on Hilton Head. There are many ways to do this, each with its own characteristics.There are many dolphins in the waters around the island, and, since they are air breathing mammals, they frequently surface to take a breath. They also like to play, sometimes leaping far out of the water. Here is some information about dolphins.
Kayaking puts you as close as you can get to wildlife, however it limits your
range (it does take some effort), and may not provide a dolphin experience.
Zodiac boats also put you right where the action is.
Larger boats such as Gypsy and Vagabond and others provide a more stable platform with amenities such as a bathroom, soft drinks and snacks.
Consider the distance from the marina to the area you will be going. You don't want to spend all your time getting there and getting back. Click here for some nature cruise selections.
can be a family activity. The boats carry either six or twelve passengers, so family groups are easily accommodated. You are strapped into a harness and you stand on a platform at the rear of the boat, The parachutes pulls you into the air as the boat moves and you are tethered to the boat by a cable that may be 800 feet long, which can give you an altitude of about 500 feet. Most parasail boats send up two people at a time, strapped together. A few can do three at a time. Flights are generally 10 to 14 minutes and the whole trip usually lasts an hour or so. Be sure to take an inexpensive camera along. You should know there are no bathrooms on these boats, so be prepared.
H2O Parasail in Harbour Town 843-290-4388.
Cost is $69 per person, all tandem. Observer, if available is $25. Get $10 off
for early bird trip (8 AM) and on Sunday.
Sky Pirate Parasail 843-842-2566 operates out of Broad Creek Marina. Cost is $69 per person. They operate a 12 passenger boat. Fly single, tandem or triple. Run only with full boats.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, hydrobiking, stand-up paddle boarding Jet Pack flying and other water sports
There are a few companies offering these activities, among them:
Hilton Head Outfitters has paddle boarding rentals and instruction and canoe rentals. 843-785-2449. They operate on the Palmetto Dunes lagoon system, in very calm water.
Hilton Head Speedboat Tours has interesting two (or three) passenger speedboats for rent.
Live Oac offers wake boarding, tubing, knee boarding and water skiing from the north end, at the RV Resort and Marina. 1-888-254-8362.
OneHHI offers creek cat tours, among other activities. A creek cat is a two passenger watercraft in which the passengers are seated on bucket seats. 843-684-2004.
Sky Pirate Parasail offers tubing, stand up paddle boarding and water skiing out of the Broad Creek Marina. 843-842-2566.
There are many sail boat tours available. Here are some.
Cheers is a 45 ft' Sloop with restroom. They provide two and 2 1/2 hour trips, including a sunset cruise.
Pau Hanna is a 53 Ft. Catamaran holding up to 43 passengers. they offer three Sunset and nature cruises daily.
Flying Circus is a 27 Ft. 6 passenger catamaran that sail out of Palmetto Bay marina on nature and sunset cruises.
Special K is a 40 Ft. Sailing yacht that can accommodate up to 6 passengers.
are available from Hilton Head Helicopter Tours for anywhere from $39 to $295 per person.
are available at www.prosegway.com
is an age old American tradition. Three companies operate six courses from four locations.
Family Fun Center 843-842-9990
has two courses located off highway 278 at mile marker 6. If you are driving
East on 278 (toward the mainland), you would turn right at Folly Field Rd., and
then an immediate right into Adventure Cove. Note that at that intersection of
278, the street on the left is Mathews Dr. while on the right is Folly Field Rd.
There are some arcade games available for the kids, too.
Legendary Golf has two locations. On Pope Ave. next to the Circle Center shopping center is an 18 hole course. 843-785-9214. Their other location is at 900 highway 278, where they have two courses. 843-686-3399.
The condition and attractiveness of the courses vary, so it might be wise to visit several or check with such sites as Trip Advisor, Yelp or the like before deciding on one.
for everyone. There are too many bike rental companies to list here. You can find them on the Internet.
Hilton Head Island is very flat, and with parking limited in some areas, bikes
are a great way to get around. Beach bikes rent for about $25 per week (ask for
multiple bike discounts) including helmet and chain lock. You can bring your
own, but the salt air is rough on bikes and you can't take them inside your
rental property to keep them safe. During low tide, our beaches are very firm
and you can easily ride a bike with wide tires on the beach.
South Carolina law permits bikes on all roadways. They must adhere to the same traffic laws as motor vehicles, including riding with the traffic, but as far to the right as practical. The leisure trails are much safer. There are 57 miles of ''leisure" trails on the island that accommodate bikes, with 28 additional miles in progress, and more inside the gated communities. Bikes on leisure trails must yield to traffic at intersections and driveways, which is where most accidents occur.
During the busy season it's a good idea to reserve bikes ahead of time. Ask the rental company what their policy is regarding stolen bikes. There are some people who like to take a bike at night for a joy ride and then abandon it. Usually they are recovered, but most rental companies will hold you financially responsible for the value of the bike.
When you arrive on the island, go to the bike rental company and pick out your bikes and have them adjusted for you. The bike rental company will deliver them to your accommodation and pick them up the day you leave at no extra charge. Ask for a package deal for multiple rentals.
Click here for a great map showing the town pathways (bike + paths).
By the way, if you need crib or high chair rentals, most bike rental companies can accommodate you.
In addition to several activities mentioned above under Family Activities (parasailing, kayaking, water skiing, etc.) you can participate in the following activities.
is available at The Batter's Box - either baseball or softball, and instruction is available too.843-715-2737. $10 for 50 balls, or $25 per half hour.
is a new sport in Hilton Head. there is one facility, Zipline Hilton Head may not be the rainforest canopy, but they offer a 2 hour experience on 8 ziplines and two suspended bridges. The also offer the "Aerial Adventure".
Drive a golf ball
Most, if not all, golf courses on Hilton Head have driving ranges.
All Hilton Head and nearby golf courses are listed here, along with price ranges, distances, etc.
Hilton Head is a tennis players dream come true. There are hundreds of courts all over the island, and several clubs rated in Tennis Magazine's top 50 clubs. Hilton Head is also home to two famous tennis pros: Dennis Van der Meer and Stan Smith. The Van der Meer tennis university is world renown for teaching both amateurs and professionals. Add to that a mild climate that makes the season almost year around , the availability of all three Grand Slam playing surfaces and accessibility of lighted courts for night play and you have a tennis paradise.
Some residential developments have their own courts, which may be used by guests staying in those developments. Most players go to one of the public courts listed below. Click on the green ones to go to their web site.
Van der Meer has daily adult programs and round robins at Shipyard.
There are 6 public tennis courts on Hilton Head Island under the supervision of the Island Recreation Center and with the cooperation of Public Tennis, Inc. All are lighted for night play. They are at the Chaplin Public Tennis Center in the Chaplin Community Park and are intended for use by islanders.
Two courts are available at the Fairfield Station County park on the north end. They are under the supervision of the Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services.
Hilton Head High School has six courts and Hilton Head Middle School four more which are available weekend and evenings when school is in session and anytime in the summer. These courts have no user fees.
Pickleball ($25) and pop tennis are offered by Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, and pickle ball is also available at the Island Recreation Center ($3).
Hilton Head has over 200 restaurants, most featuring seafood, with some steak and barbecue places. Here are just a few fun places to eat.
Wild Wing Café has 35 different flavor wings. You can choose five different flavors in groups of 5 wings or order a 25 or 50 piece sampler. Great fun for the family. At the south end near the beach.
The South Beach Marina has several eateries: a pizza shop, an ice cream store, three sit down restaurants and an outdoor grill. You can eat on the dock and enjoy live entertainment. A family venue
Shelter Cove Harbor and Shelter Cove Town Center (side by side) have a huge variety of restaurants.
The Coligny Plaza has sit down restaurants, ice cream stores, pizza, the Big Bamboo (decor from the musical South Pacific), a fudge shop, hot dog store, coffee house, bakery, and Skillets café, where you can get breakfast all day long.
The Smokehouse is known for it's ribs and barbecue and has live entertainment sometimes. It burned down in June 2019 but hpe to see it back soon.
Open all night (and day) : the Hilton Head Diner (breakfast any time), mid island.
Mellow Mushroom is popular for pizza, salads, calzones and hoagies.
Restaurants with outdoor seating and water views include: The Little Venice in Shelter cove; San Miguel's, also in Shelter Cove; The Skull Creek Boathouse, at the north end and a locals favorite; The Salty Dog in the south Bach marina in Sea Pines; Scott's Fish Market in Shelter Cove; Hudson's On the Docks at the north end; and several more, including some that are expensive.
One of the most popular night spots on the Island is the "Barmuda Triangle". It sports: the Lodge (pool, craft beers, food); Riley's, a locals favorite; Jump and Phil's, another locals hangout, One Hot Mamma's owned by Orchid Plamieri of Food Channel fame; and The Boardroom. All are within a few steps of each other on Greenwood Drive at the Sea Pines Circle.
Beer lovers will want to visit Growler's Craft Beer and Ales (free tastings Wednesdays from 4:00 to 6:30PM), the and The Lodge. The latest addition is World of Beer in Shelter Cove Town Center.
Beachgoers like to hang out at the Tiki Hut, an outdoor bar at the Holiday Inn on the beach at the south end.
Poseidon is the place for entertainment for millenials, at the rooftop bar.
You can participate in Karaoke on Tuesdays at Casey's or Saturdays at The Mellow Mushroom, which also has Trivia on Wednesdays. The Lodge also has Trivia on Mondays.
The Jazz Corner is a restaurant/club that features local jazz on weekdays and name performers on weekends. Intimate atmosphere - entertainment like it used to be.
Wine enthusiasts go to Wise Guy's; and the Island Winery, which has wine tasting Monday through Thursday at 4PM ($15) and wine flights ($10) Saturdays 12:30 to 2:30 (where else can you buy wine with Hilton Head on the label)?
Many restaurants have live entertainment at various times, most often on weekends.
Of course, Hilton Head is know for its miles of beautiful beaches. All you need to know about them is here.
Cruises include happy hour/booze cruises, sunset cruises, dinner cruises, nature/dolphin cruises and cruises to Savannah or Daufuskie Island. Among providers are the Salty Dog, The Daufuskie Difference, Drifter Excursions, Vagabond Cruises and countless others. More here, nature cruises here
There are some places of interest to visitors to Hilton Head. They are:
Daufuskie Island, the location of Pat Conroy's book The Water is Wide and which is accessible only by boat, is across Calibogue Sound from Hilton Head. While there are golf courses, condominiums, and gated residential communities, the charm is the sparsely inhabited areas. Much like Hilton Head was before the bridge, most roads are unpaved and motor vehicles are very rare. Travel is by foot or by golf cart, except for a few tour busses.
Daufuskie Island History and Artisans Excursion is a trip by Outside Hilton
Head that include a boat trip golf carts a guided tour of Daufuskie, and
If you rent a kayak, unless you are very experienced and in top physical
condition you should not try to get to Daufuskie by kayak. Tidal currents can be
very swift and powerful and the water can get quite choppy.
Beaufort, SC is about the same distance in the opposite direction. It, too has a good deal of history and in more modern times has been the site of several movies. My choice here is to tour by horse drawn carriage. This is the home of the Parris Island US Marine training center.
Charleston, SC is about a two hour + drive north (don't use I 95). This is truly the Grande dame of the south. To take it all in, I would recommend a horse drawn carriage tour followed by a walking tour of homes. Many of the old homes are being or have been restored meticulously to their original state. One home has crown molding that was hand carved from mahogany at incredible expense to retain the original structure. Charleston has survived war, fire, earthquake, and hurricane to stand proudly as the premier city of the old south.
This page last updated 07/15/2019
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