The Best of Vacation Guide
Author: Becca Edwards
Whether you are a “staycationer” or vacationer, when it comes to planning a getaway, you want an experience that speaks to your specific tastes. Well, look no further. We have broken it down into five categories—the athlete, the honeymooner, the family reunion organizer, the hedonist and the unwinder—and highlighted the best Hilton Head Island has to offer you.
According to the Huffington Post, “Although 36 percent of Americans try to lose weight before they go on vacation, a third of all travelers find they have to start a diet when they return from their trip… and 29 percent of those surveyed say they always or often gain weight while traveling.” But you, my friend, are not a statistic. Just like Goonies never say die, you never pass up the opportunity to get a good workout in and eat with a helping of your health in mind.
It is no secret Hilton Head provides a wonderland of wellness opportunities, and one of the best activities is SUP (stand up paddleboard) Yoga with Jiva Yoga Center. You do not need to bring anything but an open mind. You will work your core, improve coordination and flexibility and commune with nature. Another great idea is to register for a race. Go Tri Sports and Palmetto Running Club both host well-organized events. You can also take advantage of Hilton Head Island’s natural landscape by walking, running or biking on one our beaches or trails. My top pick: Interval training at the Fitness Trail at Jarvis Creek, followed by picnic.
Speaking of food, there are several places to refuel. Try a post-workout smoothie from Pure Natural Market, DelisheeeYo, or Smooth. Java Burrito, which never uses artificial preservatives and absolutely no growth hormones or antibiotics, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the Village at Wexford. My top high-taste, low-guilt favorites include Kurama’s wakame seafood salad, Amigos’ shrimp ceviche, Red Fish’s naked fish entrée, Chow Daddy’s arugula salad, and Char Bar’s build your own burger on a lettuce bun. Also, don’t forget to recharge with a sports massage.
Congratulations, or should I say best wishes, you’re married. If you’re the groom reading this, you know you don’t want to fudge up planning this one. If you’re the bride, you know your now other half better not fudge up planning this one. So, let’s take some pressure off this post-matrimonial powder keg.
For food, book a lovey-dovey dinner at Sunset Grille at the corner table overlooking the water and order the smoked seafood platter. Charter a boat and go to Bloody Point on Daufuskie Island. This quiet beach is perfect for a romantic champagne and charcuterie picnic. You could also take a sunset cocktail cruise on Pau Hana or—and I saved the best for last—visit Palmetto Bluff, get take out from Buffalo’s, enjoy the Summer Concert Series, and then finish the night with gourmet s’mores at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff.
Lastly, because all good things, especially good marriages, begin with buying good art, visit one of Hilton Head Island’s art galleries. Camellia Art on Pope Avenue represents some of the Island’s leading artists including Louann LaRouche, Lynn Parrott and Brucie Holler.
The family reunion organizer
God bless you. You have been given the task and title of the “family reunion organizer.” And although you know you can’t please everyone, you might as well have fun trying. First off, rent a house in South or North Forest Beach or Sea Pines. Next, contact Shore Beach. They rent umbrellas, chairs, body boards, kayaks, aqua cycles, fun cycles and sailboats. Plan on one day at the beach—at the very least—and know that many yummy restaurants are within walking distance. Nothing beats burying your favorite hyperactive nephew chest-deep in sand, and beach volleyball can be as fun to play as it is to watch, especially when adult beverages are part of the lineup.
Capture the moment with a family portrait. You can go the classy route and wear white tops and khaki bottoms, or you can go the awkward Christmas card route. Be sure to use a professional photographer like Hilton Head Photography instead of the nice person passing by.
As for that clincher moment, pick a Tuesday night and see the Shelter Cove fireworks show. If you can, charter a boat with an outfitter like Outside Hilton Head—you will beat the traffic and see not only the sky light up but also the faces of your children. In case of rain, go bowling at Station 300 (surprisingly the food is pretty good), a movie at Park Plaza (they are the only movie theatre offering a full menu and bar) or theatrical performance at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
Many people misunderstand the word “sensual.” It isn’t just about sex. It’s about gratifying all five senses—sound, sight, touch, smell and taste. No one understands this better than you, the hedonist. Luckily, treasures of pleasure abound on Hilton Head Island. We’ll begin with your ears and work our way to satisfying every sensory organ (I know; the word “organ” makes my toes curl, too).
Some of the best sounds are subtle. Halyards clanking on masts, shore birds and crashing waves vying for attention, or the distant thrum of outdoor music. We can satisfying all of the above, plus live music at Big Bamboo, the Jazz Corner or Poseidon’s rooftop bar—just to name a few hot spots. As for the eyes, few views beat a low tide kayak trip in one of our tidal creeks, where you can witness wildlife actually come to life, or stargazing on the beach with the mobile-device app Star Walk. When it comes to touch, there are dozens of healing hands on this island. Book a massage. And not just any massage. Go all out. Look for signature packages from some of our award-winning spas (like Hilton Head Health’s Indigo Spa) that use high quality products for 90 minutes or more. Now smell—which in my opinion is an under-appreciated sense. Any natural pathway or public garden with Confederate jasmine of course is fabulous, but what about walking into the Chocolate Canopy and inhaling sweet indulgences? Or sitting on the outdoor deck at Hudson’s Seafood, as wafts of salty scents come from age-old mounds of oysters, incoming fishermen and the margarita you are suddenly enjoying? Really, I could keep going but know that an abundance of aromas are a sniff away.
Taste gets its own paragraph. I’m a health nut, but even I frequent Marché de Macarons in the Village Exchange. Try the blueberry lavender, banana fosters and Tybee turtle flavors. Eat Andrew Carmines single select oysters (again at Hudson’s). Drink local brew from Hilton Head Brewing Company. Do a wine tasting at Wine and Cheese on Palmetto Bay Road. And last but not least, visit the Bluffton Farmers Market; buy some local yummies and grab a bite and beverage in Old Town Bluffton.
You’re ready to bury your personal devices in the sand, tell that annoying client what you really think of him, actually connect with your teenager, and in general bring your cortisol levels down. Can I get an amen to amenities?—Hilton Head in choral unison says, “Yes.”
We’ll begin with beach yoga. There are no expectations physically—meaning you do not need to be a human pretzel—and chances are if you hire one of the many awesome instructors on the island, you will feel amazing mind, body and spirit-wise. And while we are bringing people to us, and not us to them, hire a personal chef or personal massage therapist. Aram Haroutunian, Sarah Mastriani-Levi and Peggy Beck are all personal chefs I have worked with, and Lori Craven—from my wedding of 550 people, to the blessing of all three of my children—is my go-to caterer.
Lastly, find a hammock, beach chair or poolside chaise and read a book by one of our local writers. From Pat Conroy’s famous novels, to Margaret Greer’s The Sands of Time: A History of Hilton Head, to anthologies like Hilton Head Island: Unpacked & Staying, you can find a relaxing read at Burke’s Pharmacy, our local Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.com.