Author: Frank Dunne, Jr.
“Night and day you are the one; only you, beneath the moon or under the sun…”
That’s for you, all you Joes and dames here on vacation…with or without the rug rats. We love it when you come to Hilton Head Island because you keep us all in business so we can keep living on this crazy island.
Aw, I’m just pulling your leg, baby! Don’t snap your cap. We think you’re the cat’s meow, and you’ll know where I’m coming from when you’re one of us in a few years. That’s right. You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to move here for good one of these days. For now, we want to make sure your week-long stay is a real ring-a-ding so we’ve put together this little brainstorm to help you figure out what’s going on while you’re here.
“Like the drip, drip, drip of the rain drops, when the summer shower is through…”
We did this last month…sort of…with an article called “What2Do When it’s Nice Outside & When it Rains” (Page 56 of the June edition). Well, the rain went away and this time we’re going to talk about stuff to do by day and by night. Obviously some things will be repeated from that article, but that’s okay, because you’re a visitor and you probably weren’t here last month. Anyway, here it goes, and I’ll dispense with the Rat Pack slang.
Whatever else you have planned for the week, you and I both know that you’re going to spend a good part of it at the beach. Most of you will probably go to Coligny Beach a.k.a. Forest Beach, because it has the most public access; but for a nice change of pace, take a ride up to the north end and check out Bradley Beach, Burke’s Beach and Folly Field. It’s a little less crowded up there, which is especially good if you want to try some surf fishing, because you can’t do that where there are lots of people in the water. If that sounds like something you want to try, the bait and tackle shops in the marinas (South Beach, Shelter Cove, Palmetto Bay, etc.) are where to go for all the info and gear.
Speaking of fishing, July isn’t considered one of the more active months for sport fishing, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing out there. Hilton Head’s charter fleet skippers are more than happy to take you out in search of an Ernest Hemmingway moment. This time of year is usually known for tarpon, Spanish mackerel, and sharks, lots of sharks; but grab your smartphone and search “Hilton Head fishing charter” and speak to the captains to find out what they’re catching.
Back to the beach. You know how you’re going to spend your days out there, swimming, sunning, playing bocce, chasing your kids and all that jazz, but I should remind you that Hilton Head’s beaches are pure magic at night. There’s no better place to take your best girl for a moonlight stroll and make a wish on a shooting star. You’ve surely heard all about Hilton Head sunsets, but a moonrise over the Atlantic—or a tidal creek—is also something you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be here during a full moon (July 12 by the way), which you can celebrate at Full Moon Parties at The Tiki Hut on Coligny Beach or Skull Creek Boathouse on Squire Pope Road.
You’re probably going to spend one or more days playing golf or tennis or both. Of course you can’t play real golf at night, but you can play miniature golf under the lights at Adventure Cove on Folly Field Road, Legendary Golf with two locations on Pope Avenue and William Hilton Parkway, or Pirate’s Island next to the Hilton Head Diner. Most of the island’s resorts have tennis courts with at least some of them lighted for nighttime play; but if you’re not staying at one of those places, there are lighted courts at Chaplin Community Park near Burke’s Beach.
By my last count, there are approximately a zillion other ways under the sun to spend your days on the island, and about half a zillion of them are water sports. Outfitters such as Outside Hilton Head, Live Oac, and Palmetto Bay Watersports can set you up with kayaking, stand-up-paddleboarding, waverunners, para-sailing, boat rentals, dolphin tours, fishing charters…whatever floats your boat so to speak.
That’s not to say, though, that there’s not plenty to see and do by land. Hilton Head Island is a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community, according to the League of American Bicyclists, and we’ve got better than 60 miles of leisure pathways to prove it. You can get practically anywhere on the island by bike. If you didn’t bring your own bikes there are plenty of places to rent including the Bike Doctor on Arrow Road and Mathews Drive or Bicycle Billy’s on Pope Avenue. Maybe you’d rather stand upright while touring the island on two wheels. If so, you can book a Segway tour with Segway of Hilton Head located in Park Plaza.
Need more of an adrenaline fix? Zip on over to Broad Creek Marina off Marshland Road for a rush at ZipLine Hilton Head and Aerial Adventure Hilton Head. ZipLine takes you on an aerial tour of the maritime forest adjacent to Broad Creek, and Aerial Adventure lets you test your skills on an obstacle course in the sky. Afterwards, you might spend the evening over a casual dinner and a few beers at Up the Creek Pub right next door. You might catch some fire juggling or live music too.
The South Carolina Lowcountry is gold mine for both history and nature buffs, and it is well worth your time to spend a day exploring Hilton Head Island’s storied past and natural environment. The Coastal Discovery Museum in Honey Horn is the place to start. You can tour historic forts and other sites while learning about the island’s role in the American Revolution and the Civil War, or explore native islander heritage on a Gullah Heritage Trail tour. Exploring Pinckney Island gets you close to nature with an overview of Hilton Head Island’s natural history and a walking tour through the wildlife refuge on Pinckney Island.
“Like the tick, tick tock of the stately clock as it stands against the wall…”
Wow! Where did the day go? You’ve been having so much fun that you didn’t even realize that day is turning into night. Now would be a good time to take in one of those sunsets over a few drinks and dinner. The Old Oyster Factory is great place to do that with the whole clan. Watch the sun say goodnight from the deck overlooking beautiful Broad Creek to the soothing sounds of local rising star Sara Burns. There’s also a juggler/magician out there to fend off the heebie-jeebies in your little ones. The Sunset Grille in Hilton Head Harbor Marina, Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, the Chart House, and the Old Fort Pub (the latter three on Skull Creek off of Squire Pope Road) are some of Hilton Head Island’s other favorite sunset dining spots.
It’s July. It’s hot outside. A great way to chill out in the evening is to take in a show. Make an evening of it at Park Plaza Cinema where you can have a bite to eat and drinks at Parlez-Vous Lounge, a “cine-café” located on site, before viewing the latest summer blockbuster. If live musicals are more your style, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is presenting Pump Boys and Dinettes through July 27.
“Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom tom, when the jungle shadows fall…”
When the sun goes down on Hilton Head Island, the music volume goes up, and we have such a wildly diverse music scene it would be impossible to cover it all here. For example (as long as we’ve got Frank Sinatra/Cole Porter on the brain), The Jazz Corner in the Village at Wexford is where you can catch nightly jazz, blues, and R&B performances by local icons like Deas Guyz, Martin Lesch, Bobby Ryder, Bob Masteller, and Lavon Stevens. On another hand, The Electric Piano Bar in Park Plaza rolls more high energy with live bands and DJs playing and spinning everything from rock ’n’ roll to reggae to country, and of course the famous dueling pianos on Friday nights. Likewise, The Big Bamboo Café in Coligny Plaza features live local and regional acts like David Wingo, The Beagles, PATWA Reggae Band, and Souls Harbor.
Frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find a bar or restaurant on the island that doesn’t have some kind of live music going on during the summer. Captain Woody’s, Wild Wing Café, The Boardroom, Street Meet, The Frosty Frog, The Tiki Hut and countless other venues provide a stage for Hilton Head’s great musical talent. Go online and check the establishments’ web sites. Most of them have event calendars to tell you who is playing and when. Better yet, ask a local. Either way, chances are you’ll find something to your liking, from Lowcountry Boil Bluegrass Band’s chicken pickin’ inspirations to Cranford Hollow’s more raucous “Lowcountry Stomp” sound to good old acoustic guitar beach music and all the way to Silicone Sister’s hair band tributes…we’ve got it all.
What about my kids, you ask? We’ve got that covered too. Every evening throughout the summer is HarbourFest at Shelter Cove Harbour with live entertainment and kid-friendly activities including Cappy the Clown Monday through Friday and fireworks every Tuesday night. HarbourFest’s signature act, Shannon Tanner, performs sing-alongs, pop tunes and originals Monday – Friday evenings as he has done for almost 30 year. Similarly, another local musical legend, Greg Russell, performs for the children underneath the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town.
“…whether near to me or far, no matter darling where you are…”
Of course we locals want you to get out and about while you’re here, but we do realize the age-old irony about vacation; it is usually far from restful, especially if you’re corralling a herd of kids. There will be nights when you just want to lay low, have a nice home cooked meal and spend the night in. If you do, try this: during the day, head down to Benny Hudson Seafood Market on Squire Pope Road to pick up some fresh caught shrimp. Ask the friendly folks there for a Lowcountry boil recipe, then go get the rest of the ingredients. If it’s a Tuesday, get as many of the ingredients as possible from either the Shelter Cove Park Farmers Market (4-7 p.m.) or the Farmers Market in Old Town Bluffton (2 p.m.-7 p.m.). When you get home that night, have at it! Then, rest up for another big day and night on your Hilton Head vacation.
You may not get to everything on this list in one vacation, but that’s a good thing, because now you have reasons to come back. We’re sure you will, and we’re sure you’ll be thinking of your Hilton Head Island days and nights until you return. You might even catch yourself singing, “…night and day, day and night; why is it so that this longing for you follows wherever I go?”
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.
Pau Hana & Flying Circus
Palmetto Bay Marina
The crew of Pau Hana & Flying Circus Sailing Charters offer “The Ultimate Sailing Experience.” It’s the “environmentally-friendly way” to enjoy dolphins and nature’s beauty on smooth sailing catamarans! Fun for all ages! Join us for our popular “Happy Hour” sunset sails – coolers welcome! Private charters available. Sailing
daily from Palmetto Bay Marina since 1989.
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.
21 Graves Road
Graves Farm offers one hour guided trail rides along the Okatie River bank and through the Pepper Hall Plantation. Sunset rides also available for those who wish to experience the beauty of the Lowcountry at its best. Pony rides offered for children seven and under and petting zoo complete with a Buffalo, Donkey, Goats (and their new kids) and the always entertaining Whitey the Cow! Come out and meet the famous “So She Wood”, NCHA Classic/Challenge winner, and the rest of the cutting horse champions. Reservations are required to ride.
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.
190 Greenwood Dr.
Lawton Stables offers guided trail rides through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, perfect for adults and children over 8 years old; pony rides for children 7 and under and a free small animal farm! Open 7 days a week, 364 days a year. Home of the International Riding Academy (iridingacademy.com) and the Wish Upon a Horse Therapeutic Riding Center (wishuponahorsehhi.org).
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.
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.
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.
Hilton Head Brewing Company
7C Greenwood Drive
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.
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.
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.