10 Things You Might Not Know about Hilton Head Island

By:Kerry Egan

Date:10/28/2016

Hilton Head Island is justifiably famous for its incredible beaches and its world-class golf courses. It’s regularly voted one of the best vacation destinations in the world.

And while those sugar beaches and soft green golf courses are enough to bring in people from around the globe, there’s so much more to Hilton Head.

Learn a little more here.

1. Hilton Head is fewer than 5 miles wide and 12 miles long, but the island has almost 60 miles of bicycle trails. Renting bicycles is a great way to explore the island.


2. Ever hear someone mention the toe of Hilton Head and wonder what in the world they meant? The island is shaped like a foot. People refer to the heel, toe or ankle of the island when describing locations.


3. There is not a single neon sign on Hilton Head. The island was developed to try to remain in harmony with the natural world, so all the signs are in natural, neutral colors, with definitely no blinking neon.


4. Before the Civil War, two dozen plantations on the island grew famous Sea Island Cotton. Nowadays, when you hear someone refer to “plantations” on Hilton Head, they are talking about the large resort communities that use the term.


5. Until World War II's D-Day, the largest amphibious landing in US history happened on Hilton Head. On Nov. 7, 1861, Union troops stormed and captured the island during the American Civil War.


6. The first self-governed freedman’s town in the United States was founded at Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island during the Civil War by the formerly enslaved people who worked the plantations on the island.


7. Hilton Head is one of the Sea Islands where the Gullah culture developed. Isolated from the mainland, the freedmen of the Sea Islands created their own culture. Learn more about this vibrant and fascinating culture’s foods, language, art and more when visiting Hilton Head. The Coastal Discovery Museum is a great place to start your education.


8. Until 1956, the only way to get to and from the island was by boat. Resort development began the same year, when Charles Fraser began planning and building Sea Pines Plantation, the first and best-known resort community on the island.


9. Hilton Head has fewer than 40,000 year-round residents, but 2.5 million visitors a year.


10. The red and white striped lighthouse in Harbour Town has never been a functioning lighthouse at all. It was built to be a gift shop and tourist attraction. Early doubters called it “Fraser’s Folly,” after the early developer who built it, but it has become an iconic and beloved symbol of Hilton Head.

Related Content

Explore Hilton Head Island’s Great Outdoors by Foot, Boat, Bike or Horseback
Hilton Head Island’s beautiful natural setting serves as the backdrop for a wide range of outdoor activities, from sailing and kayaking to hiking and biking.
Must Eats in Hilton Head
Look no further for the most popular and recognized restaurants among locals and visitors on Hilton Head Island.
Hilton Head Island Accommodations Offer Visitors the Unspoiled Feel of Paradise
On Hilton Head Island, you’ll bask in the beauty of the Lowcountry landscape, whether you stay in a luxurious spa resort or cozy beach bungalow.

Featured Products

Harbour Town Lighthouse
Coast

Hilton Head Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This lighthouse at Hilton Head's Sea Pines Plantation was built in 1969 as part of the island's Heritage Golf Tournament. The signature red and white tower is 93-ft. tall ...
Town of Hilton Head Island
Coast

Hilton Head Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Hilton Head Island is famous for its 12-mile stretch of glistening sands. But a visit to Hilton Head is more than just a day at the beach. The island has some of the best ...

Featured products and attractions in "10 Things You Might Not Know about Hilton Head Island"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}