About an hour north of The Ford Field & River Club, just off the coast of South Carolina, there lies a magical little oasis called Hilton Head Island. Among its many accolades, Hilton Head Island has been voted the #1 Island in the Continental U.S. and the #2 Island in the World by Travel + Leisure magazine, honored among the 25 Best Island Beaches in the World by Condé Nast Traveler, and named the #2 Best Beach Town by Southern Living.
With 12 miles of pristine beaches, Hilton Head is where lowcountry comfort meets Atlantic Ocean adventure. Because of its proximity and range of activities and attractions, members of The Ford frequent Hilton Head Island for summertime fun in the sun—whether for a day, a weekend or an extended stay. From where to set up your beach blanket to how to get the biggest adrenaline rush in the water, here’s how to plan your Hilton Head Island getaway.
The Sand & Sea
Important Beach Info
All of Hilton Head Island’s 12 miles of beaches are public; however, you’ll need to access the beaches via dedicated public access entrances, to avoid trespassing on private beachfront properties. Dogs are not permitted on any of Hilton Head Island beaches from Memorial Day through Labor Day; during the off season, they’re allowed on-leash or off-leash, depending on the time of year.
The waters surrounding Hilton Head Island tend to be fairly calm, making this a great destination for the whole family. The underwater terrain has a gradual slope, so you can head out fairly far with your feet still on the ground. During beach season (April–September), lifeguards are stationed at Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field and Islander Beaches; these are considered designated swimming areas. To protect swimmers during peak beachgoing hours, fishing, surfing, boogie boarding and team sports are prohibited in these areas from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hilton Head Island is not a hot surfing destination due to low waves and generally mild currents. However, for little ones or new surfers, the island is actually a great place to learn the skill. If you’re on the adventurous side, popular water activities include parasailing, jet ski rentals, stand up paddleboarding, sailing tours, kayaking, dolphin and alligator tours and more.
Food & Drinks
Seafood is a must while on Hilton Head Island, and Carolina Crab Company does this cuisine so well. Start with hushpuppies served with cinnamon apple butter and prepare to eat your weight in crab legs, crab cakes (their speciality) and she-crab soup as you watch boats pull in and dock for the evening.
Boasting one of the best waterfront views on the island, this top-rated, award-winning restaurant prepares seafood just about any way you could dream up. Enjoy your seafood as sushi, chilled, steamed, fried, broiled, sautéed or sandwiched between fresh bread—you simply can’t go wrong.
This harborside gathering spot offers daily wine tastings; a light but tasty menu of snacks, sandwiches and small plates as well as an assortment of wines, cocktails and beers. It’s a great spot to regroup before dinner or for a midday palate expander.
Entertainment, Exploration, Rejuvenation
Many of the island’s hotels and resorts cater to those in need of a little R&R, especially after a day of adventure. The Oceanfront Westin Resort & Spa and Refresh At Spa Soleil are two favorites among visitors—offering massage, beauty and wellness treatments.
In addition to making many lower impact water sports accessible, Hilton Head Island houses 23 championship golf courses, various pickleball and tennis courts, and fishing gear rentals for those wanting to play a round, learn a new skill, or engage in some friendly competition while on vacation.
Hilton Head Island has more than 50 miles of rideable beaches and paved pathways for bike rides—whether for fun, exercise or as an easy means of transportation during your stay. Among the island’s vendors you’ll find beach cruisers, tandem bikes, electric bikes and more for the whole family.
A great daytime activity for all ages, the Coastal Discovery Museum features exhibits, events, tours and interactive experiences. Kids can meet Lowcountry wildlife and go on scavenger hunts, while adults might get the most out of the weekend art market and craft festival or the various historical buildings on the property.