June 2018

Just Visiting? 10 Laws You Should Know about When Vacationing on Hilton Head Island

Author: Justin Jarrett

Welcome to Hilton Head Island, where we have some of the finest beaches, resorts, bike trails, golf courses, and sunsets on the planet. Our jails are quite nice, too, but you probably would rather leave that to the imagination. To that end, here are a few local laws to keep in mind during your visit:

1. No booze on the beach. This might come as a surprise, but there’s a reason kids on spring break opt for Myrtle Beach or Daytona Beach instead of Hilton Head Island, and our prohibition of alcoholic beverages on the beach is certainly a factor. Of course, you’ll see plenty of folks in violation, but with fines of up to $500 per offense, is it really worth it? The drinks at the Tiki Hut are much cheaper.

2. It’s not all fun and games. We want you to have a good time on our beaches, but there are some restrictions on what kind of games you can play during the busy season. We can’t have sunbathers or sandcastle builders getting conked on the head with frisbees, bocce balls, horseshoes, or lawn darts, so all team sports involving a ball and games with metal components are banned from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. from April 1-Sept. 30.

3. Take the shells; leave the starfish. Everyone loves to collect seashells at the beach, and that’s totally fine. But don’t remove any live beach fauna—such as sea turtles, sand dollars, conchs, or starfish—or you might end up with a seahorse head in your bed.

4. Go fishing … but not on the beach. We have some world-class fishing off our coast, in our freshwater lagoons, and in our tidal creeks, but shark fishing is prohibited on our beaches and all fishing and surfcasting is illegal between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from April 1-Sept. 30. You’ve seen Jaws, right? So have we, and we don’t need to re-create it.

5. Don’t feed the wildlife. When humans feed alligators, the gators learn to associate people with food and become more aggressive. The same is true for dolphins. Yes, dolphins. And feeding them can carry fines up to $20,000 or a year in prison, so just don’t do it. It’s also illegal to sleep on our beaches, but like we said, don’t feed the wildlife.

5. No salty dogs. Even though our old pal Jake from the Salty Dog Café is sort of an unofficial mascot of Hilton Head Island, pets aren’t always welcome on our beaches. In fact, they’re entirely prohibited between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. Be sure to read the full regulations before you take your four-legged friend for a splash in the ocean.

7. No nudity allowed. We really shouldn’t have to tell you this, what with the whole “no alcohol” thing, but we’re trying to preserve our reputation as a family-friendly destination; please keep your privates private on our beaches. Indecent exposure isn’t allowed here.

8. Lights out for sea turtles. Should you find yourself lucky enough to stay in a beachfront condo or home between May 1 and October 31, be sure to turn out any lights facing the beach after 10 p.m. If not, newly-hatched sea turtles might mistake your porch light for the moon and become disoriented. You don’t want that on your conscience.

9. Bring your own bags. Chances are you’ll need to do some grocery shopping while you’re here, and you should know that we’ve recently banned single-use plastic bags (they’re also potentially disastrous for the marine life). The bag ban doesn’t officially take effect until October, but you’ll feel better about yourself if you go ahead and abide by it now. So, channel your inner hippie and pack a couple canvas bags to transport your groceries; they might also come in handy for packing your beach snacks.

10. No bang-bang. It’s illegal to discharge firearms within the town limits, unless you’re a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, using an approved shooting range, or hunting small game with a shotgun. It’s also illegal to set off fireworks without a permit. If you must make a loud bang, try popping a balloon, but don’t leave the plastic on the beach, because of the marine life.

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