Get Your Free 2018 Vacation Guide

Download your free guide, get the official app or request a copy by mail below, and start planning your one-of-a-kind South Carolina adventure today.

Vacation Guide Cover
View Our Other Guides

10 Things You Might Not Know about Hilton Head Island

Kerry Egan Kerry Egan

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.

Kerry Egan
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.