What To Do: When It's Nice Outside & When it Rains
Author: Diasy Dingledorf | Photographer: Emily J. Novitski
Hooray! You made it. Now for the next seven days you can relax, have fun and take in all that the Lowcountry has to offer. Of course, as with any vacation, what type of activities you engage in will be somewhat dependent on the weather.
Here on Hilton Head Island, we have three distinct weather patterns in the summer months: hot and sunny, hot and rainy and threat of hurricane. Let’s discuss how you can amuse yourself in each instance.
What to do when it’s sunny & hot
Most of the time, this is the weather you will have. The Lowcountry is known for sunny skies in the summer. You picked a great time to come!
Go to the beach
Let’s start with the most obvious. Even though you wouldn’t know it by driving down Hwy. 278, Hilton Head Island has over 12 miles of sand on which to set up camp. Load up your coolers, chairs, tents, wacky noodles, skim boards, magazines, etc. and just chill out for the day. When noon hits, you are officially allowed to start drinking, and several beach bars are available to help you take the edge off. The Tiki Hut (in The Beach House), Pool Bar Jim’s (Marriott’s Grande Ocean Resort) and the newly remodeled Sea Pines Beach Club are three of our favorites if you are on the south end of the island. For you north end beachgoer’s, we suggest the Westin’s Splash or Cocoa’s on the Beach near the Hilton Head Resort.
Make a tee time
Whether you’re a wannabe pro or a hack like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, we have the golf course for you. Play the famed Harbour Town Golf Links, where the RBC Heritage PGA tournament is held every April, or the Robert Trent Jones course in Palmetto Dunes for an ocean view on their signature hole 10. With a few kids in tow, your best bet may be mini-golf. Mini-people (age three and under) play free with a paying adult at Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, near mile marker 8.
Float in a boat
There are a variety of ways to get out on the water, and since this is an island, you really should go on some sort of three-hour tour. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, a kayak or paddleboard rental is a serene, eco-friendly way to take in the flora and fauna. Live Oac and Outside Hilton Head are a few places you can rent such things—with or without a guide to show you around. If you would rather sit back and let someone else do all the work, try sailing on a catamaran with Captain John & Jeannie Zailckas of the Pau Hana and Flying Circus (Palmetto Bay Marina) or Captain Blair of Live Oac (Hilton Head Harbor). You are almost guaranteed to see dolphins on any boating adventure, definitely a crowd pleaser for the little set.
Fishing doesn’t necessarily mean catching, but the attempt is always fun. In early June, you can still catch the tail end of cobia season; but when the weather changes from warm to HOT, shark fishing is most common in local waters. The serious angler can find a day trip out to the Gulf Stream for a wider variety of sport fishing for barracuda, tarpon, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle. A quick Google search is suggested to find the right boat and captain for your crew. A group of guys might not care if a charter boat is “head” less (boat-speak for “toilet”), but if you have women and children anglers, it may be a necessity.
Go for a ride
One of the best ways to see the island is on two wheels. With over 60 miles of bike paths available for exploration, it’s something the whole family can do while getting exercise in the process. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a hidden gem with lakes filled with alligators to observe. If you can find it, we recommend biking through. One word of caution; if you see a tiny red stop sign while on a bike path, it is for you, not the cars around you. Vehicles have the right of way on Hilton Head Island, so look both ways before you cross.
Get a bird’s eye view
The area’s newest tourist attraction is ZipLine Hilton Head at Broad Creek Marina. If you aren’t afraid of heights, we recommend you gear up and fly through the trees. An excellent way to spend a nice day. If you require a more sedate way to see the island, try climbing to the top of the Sea Pines Lighthouse in Harbour Town.
What to do when it’s rainy & hot
Most afternoons in the summer months come complete with a pop-up thunderstorm. Think of this as nature’s way of telling you it’s time to get out of the sun for a few hours.
Yes, that’s right. Stuff your face at one of over 200 restaurants. Watch the lightning while enjoying cocktails at a table overlooking the water, or find a cool local bar where you can play Golden Tee or pool. Hilton Head has a lively music scene too—check out our entertainment calendar on page 106 for a few more ideas.
Try strolling through an art gallery in Old Town Bluffton, or one of the many on Hilton Head Island. We recommend the Red Piano Art Gallery near the back gate to Sea Pines, The Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, or La Belle Image and Nash Gallery at Shelter Cove Harbour. There is something special about buying artwork on vacation as it becomes a story in itself. If you want to create your own pieces, we suggest a trip to The Art Café (ceramics) near the Sea Pines Circle or at Shelter Cove Harbour or Wine & Design (acrylic on canvas) right over the bridge in Bluffton.
Get a massage, manicure, pedicure, facial or whatever makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. Try Faces DaySpa in the Village at Wexford, Le Spa in Sea Pines Center, the newly remodeled Sanctuary in Park Plaza or the Westin’s Heavenly Spa Port Royal Plantation. Spa treatments are always more fun on vacation, because your mind isn’t swirling with what you have to do the minute you set foot outside those serene doors.
Knock over some pins
In other words, go bowling! Station 300 in Bluffton is the new local bowling alley, complete with arcade games for those who don’t want to don those fancy shoes. You can grab a burger and a beer while you bowl at their in-house restaurant, Zeppelins.
Yes, we saved the best for last. Go shopping. If there is one thing we have an abundance of around here (besides restaurants), it is unique boutiques with things you won’t find in Ohio. Try Sea Pines Center, the Village at Wexford, Coligny Plaza and Old Town Bluffton for locally owned shops.
What to do when a hurricane threatens
Now this happens several times a summer, and the Weather Channel gets very excited about this because lots of hurricanes equal news to report. Before you go getting too dramatic and packing your car to go home, wait to see how far away Tropical Storm Gustav is. There is a lot of East Coast out there for a swirling storm to hit, and the “strike zone” can change dramatically in just few days’ time. That said, in the event that Hilton Head Island issues a voluntary evacuation, you should probably hit the road. We’ll need the roads clear for locals who wait until it’s a mandatory evacuation.
The Bike Doctor
31 New Orleans Rd. or 55 Matthews Drive, Suite 160
843.681.7532 or 843.681.7531
The Bike Doctor, voted best bike shop and best bike rentals, has been selling the best and servicing the rest since 1992. They have two island locations with bike sales, services and rentals. All rentals include free baskets, locks, delivery and pickup.
Gullah Heritage Trail Tours
70 Honey Horn Road
Gullah Heritage works to share the values of Gullah Culture with the world. Tour guides all of Gullah heritage, born and raised on Hilton Head Island before the bridge connection to the mainland, share their expertise with tour participants to provide the most accurate and engaging cultural experience.
Hilton Head Brewing Company
7C Greenwood Drive (Reilley’s Plaza)
South Carolina’s first microbrewery and restaurant can produce 2,000 barrels of beer annually. Patrons can dine inside the brew house pub or on the outside deck, complete with outdoor bar and TV. With 40 craft and specialty beers on tap, and an extensive menu including tasty appetizers, wings, pizza, calzones, burgers, salads, and more, HHBC is a beer and food lover’s destination.
Honey Baked Ham & Cafe
1060 Fording Island Rd. (Bluffton, next to Target)
Great hams and turkey breasts, hand-crafted to provide that sweet crunchy glaze everyone loves. A large selection of side dishes, desserts and condiments are available. Great sandwiches and salads for dine in, take out or catering that special event.
Island Bagel & Deli
841 William Hilton Parkway
Authentic NY Style boiled bagels in 16 flavors made from scratch daily on Hilton Head. Twelve handmade flavors of cream cheese, breakfast bagel sandwiches and a full line of Seattle’s Best coffees and espresso drinks. For lunch try the classic deli sandwiches, signature hoagies and the new Bacon Bagel Burger.
The Jazz Corner
The Village at Wexford
The intimate, elegant atmosphere of the Jazz Corner is the perfect setting to enjoy an evening of world-class entertainment enhanced by the innovative southern flavors presented on the menu and impeccable service. The Jazz Corner offers a signature martini menu, extensive wine list, full bar and late-night menu. Acclaimed as one of the TOP “100 Great Jazz Rooms” in the WORLD by Downbeat Magazine. Open nightly from 6:00 PM.
Live Oac Outdoor Adventure Company
43 Jenkins Rd. (Hilton Head Harbor)
Hilton Head Island adventure professionals create on-water experiences customized for you: Watersports, fishing charters, dolphin watching, island touring, and more! Explore beautiful locations with skilled guides who have a passion for sharing the great outdoors. Their perfect location on HHI’s Skull Creek allows immediate access to the waters of Pinckney Wildlife Refuge. Rated #1 Watersports Adventures on HHI for 5 years running by TripAdvisor.
Moss Creek Equestrian Center
Moss Creek Plantation
Providing boarding, training, horse riding lessons and horsemanship skills since 1997. Capable, professional instructors welcome all riding abilities and ages. Let the Lowcountry-style barn and grass pastures, set in a pecan grove, combined with the warm staff, welcome you to our family-friendly environment! Easy access at the bridges to Hilton Head.
Pau Hana & Flying Circus
Palmetto Bay Marina
Explore local waters the environmentally friendly way with Captain John & Jeanie Zailckas of the Pau Hana. They have been providing unforgettable fun dolphin watch nature cruises on safe and stable catamaran sailboats since 1989. Whether it’s dolphin watching, daytime cruising, taking in a fabulous sunset, learning to sail with a private lesson, enjoying fireworks, or just getting together for clean, fresh fun, PAU HANA and FLYING CIRCUS are perfect for all ages.
Pirate’s Island Golf
8 Marina Side Drive
Rated on Trip Advisor as the top miniature golf course on Hilton Head Island, Pirates Island has two 18-hole courses, one more challenging than the other, bound to satisfy any mini-golfer’s preference. Situated under shady, towering oak trees, Pirates Island offers its customers an oasis on beautiful Hilton Head Island.
163 Bluffton Rd, Unit F
Chef/owner Tom Boland welcomes you to enjoy exciting seasonal dishes in an inviting atmosphere near Old Town Bluffton. Boland graduated Le Cordon Bleu, and his classical French training combined with years of fine dining experience has helped him create a unique menu that is complemented by a diverse wine list.
Zip Line Hilton Head
Broad Creek Marina
Get a bird’s eye view of the island with ZipLine Hilton Head or Aerial Adventure Hilton Head, two different high-flying adventures. The zip line tour includes eight interconnected zip lines with a dual cable-racing finale for ages 10 and over. Aerial Adventure HH, a sky playground, features six different ability courses to thrill a five-year-old or a Marine. Finish your day with Up the Creek Pub & Grill, overlooking Broad Creek.