About Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island is a foot-shaped barrier island located off the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina, approximately 45 miles (72 km) north of Savannah, Ga., 90 miles (145 km) south of Charleston, S.C., and 30 miles (48 km) south of historic Beaufort, S.C. The 12 miles (19 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide island was the first Eco-planned destination in the United States.
Lying on the Intracoastal Waterway, Hilton Head Island encompasses 42 square miles (68 sq. land of semi-tropical, Low Country geography. The Island's pristine natural environment offers a relaxing, hospitable atmosphere with subtle signage and no neon lights. Fertile salt marshes, networks of lagoons and creeks, forests of moss-draped oaks, magnolias, pines, palmettos and 12 miles (19 km) of sandy beaches are interspersed with championship golf courses, tennis courts, fine restaurants and luxurious hotels, resorts and private villa accommodations.
View/Download PDF [495kb] - map courtesy Town of Hilton Head Island's Spring 2005 Edition of the "Our Town" Newsletter, http://www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov
Warmed year-round by the Gulf Stream, the Island's average daytime temperature is a mild 70°F (21°C). The average annual ocean temperature is 69°F (20°C).
Approx. 31,000 permanent residents Approx. 2.5 million annual visitors in 2000.
Golf Courses: 23 (10 private ) on-Island; 40 in Low Country area
Tennis Courts: 300 (8 clubs available for resort play)
Activities: Biking, kayaking, sailing, surfing, scuba diving, parasailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, fishing and crabbing, horseback riding, nature-based tours/nature preserves, miniature golf, playgrounds, swimming pools, dolphin-watching cruises, historic tours, Gullah heritage tours, hayrides, arts and cultural activities, shopping, fine dining and sightseeing.
Hilton Head Island boasts a flourishing cultural community of fine art, music and theatrical venues. Island offerings include cultural exhibits, galleries and performances at the Self Family Arts Center, Hilton Head Playhouse, Reparatory Theatre, Hilton Head Orchestra, Hilton Head Dance School, Coastal Discovery Museum and the Cole Heyward House Historic Center in Bluffton, S.C.
Hilton Head Island offers 12 miles (19 km) of beaches, with public access and metered parking available at the following locations: Coligny Beach, Alder Lane, Folly Field Road, Dreissen's Beach Park, Islanders Beach Park, Collier Beach Park.
Hilton Head Island Area History
Imagine a time when life kept pace to the clippety-clop of a horse's hooves. When the scent of magnolia mingled with a salty breeze. And the welcome was as warm and long as a sea island summer day.
DINING: Over 250 restaurants reside on Hilton Head Island ~ ranging from fast-food to gourmet. Dining venues include all types of major ethnic cuisine, including French, German, Italian, Caribbean, Japanese, Greek, Chinese, Thai and Mexican. For those with a milder palate, the Island also offers great All-American and southern-style fare as well as famous local seafood.
SHOPPING: More than 200 shops are located on Hilton Head Island, from elegant boutiques and art galleries to an indoor mall with major department stores and specialty shops. The Island also has three outlet malls featuring designer brands at a significant savings.
South Carolina Facts
- Land area: 32,007 square miles
- Largest County by Area:
Smallest County by Area: Calhoun 380 square miles
Largest County by Population:
- Horry County 1,133 square miles
- Orangeburg County 1,105 square miles
- Berkeley County 1,099 square miles
State Animal: Whitetail Deer
State Bird: Carolina Wren
State Beverage: Milk
State Butterfly: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
State Capital: Columbia
State Flag: When asked by the Revolutionary Council of Safety in 1775 to design a flag for the use of SC troops, Col. William Moutrie chose a blue which matched the color of their uniforms and a crescent which reproduced the silver emblem worn on the front of their caps. The palmetto tree was added later to represent Moultrie's heroic defense of the palmetto-log fort on Sullivan's Island against the attack of the British fleet on June 28, 1776.
- Greenville 345,173
- Richland 292,601
- Charleston 277,601
The string that laces these parts together is William Hilton Parkway - U.S. 278. The distance, for example, from the bridge to, let's say, Sea Pines Circle is about 12 miles. From there to Harbour Town is about another 4 miles. Run a line from Palmetto Bay Marina, at Broad Creek, along Palmetto Bay Road, through Sea Pines Circle, down Pope Avenue to Coligny Circle at the Atlantic and the distance is 2.8 miles. Because the Parkway's route is somewhat curvy and meandering, one may not realize the island's diagonal orientation to the compass. The South Carolina coast runs roughly from northeast to southwest and Hilton Head nestles right up against it. On a map the island boot seems to be standing on tiptoe.
History and nature are inextricably mixed on Hilton Head Island. The first islanders were native Indians who lived here as early as 4000 B.C., supported by the rich bounty of the earth and sea. In 1664, the fertile land of the New World drew English sea captain William Hilton to explore the Island on behalf of a syndicate of Barbarian planters. His report was enthusiastic, and in honor of his pioneering explorations, the Island was christened Hilton's Head - a reference to the headlands that marked the way into Port Royal Sound. However, it was not until the threat of the Spaniards to the south and the Indians to the west was quelled in the closing years of the 17th century, which English colonists would settle permanently in the area.
As the 18th century dawned, the Island prospered with large indigo and later, rice plantations. But it was sea island cotton - first successfully cultivated in the 1780's that made the planters wealthy beyond their dreams. By the mid 1800's at the height of the plantation era, more than a dozen large land-owning families divided the Island's riches among themselves.
The onset of the Civil War brought an abrupt end to the cotton dynasties. The fine homes and fertile fields of the planters were destroyed by occupying Union troops after what would prove to be the largest naval engagement of the entire war: the Battle of Port Royal. A freedman's city, Mitcheville, sprang up briefly, but its life was short, and when the Union troops left, the Island to a long period of bucolic quiet, with those who remained make a modest living farming, fishing, and oystering.
It's a known fact: when a community is laid out on a diagonal hardly anybody can tell where they're going. That's when the sun, which comes up out of the ocean every morning, seems to stop and stand straight overhead at noon: it's trying to figure out which way is west.