Hilton Head is known as a premiere island getaway, offering challenging golf courses, luxurious resorts, fantastic food and, of course, beautiful beaches. And while the island has more private beaches than some surrounding coastal areas, there are lots of public beach options available to visitors who want to pitch an umbrella and spend the day by the ocean.
Check out these sunny spots to spend a day on the beach:
Alder Lane Beach – 2 Woodward Avenue
Located just off South Forest Beach Drive, Alder Lane offers public access to a fairly uncrowded and wide sandy beach. This area is just a quick walk for those staying at the Marriott Grande Ocean Resort and has 22 metered parking spaces. The path takes guests right by Pool Bar Jim’s, which serves frozen tropical treats. The Alder Lane area is less crowded than the popular Coligny Beach but offers similar amenities, including restrooms, outdoor showers and beach matting to make it wheelchair accessible.
Burkes Beach – 60 Burkes Beach Road
Burkes Beach is located off William Hilton Parkway and has limited parking for visitors – 13 metered spaces. However, the beach is close to Chaplin Park, which offers plenty of parking as well as paved trails leading to park amenities, including fields, basketball, tennis courts and a dog park. From the Burkes Beach parking lot, a sandy path leads the way out to the beach, which is normally far less crowded than nearby beaches. Visitors love Burkes Beach because of its ideal waves for surfing and the peaceful escape it offers from seasonal crowds.
Coligny Beach – 1 Coligny Circle
Rated one of the top beaches in the country and consistently considered to be the most popular beach on the island, Coligny Beach has free parking, great amenities and gives guests a variety of exciting opportunities for a day at the beach. Coligny Beach is located at Pope Avenue and South Forest Beach Drive and is walking distance from Coligny Plaza’s shops and dining options. There are more than 300 free parking spaces, and these spaces can fill up very quickly. There also is parking available at the town parking lot at the corner of South Forest Beach Drive and Pope Avenue, although this is not free and is a slightly longer walk to the beach. Coligny also has bike racks, so visitors can pedal to the beach and lock up their bikes before spending the day by the water. Guests at Coligny Beach can swim, rent bikes, rent Hobie Cats, play volleyball, get a drink at the Tiki Hut outdoor bar and sit in swings and wooden chairs under gazebos providing a little shade from the sun.
Driessen Beach Park – 64 Bradley Beach Road
Driessen Beach Park offers boardwalk access to the beach, seasonal beach rentals, a number of amenities and 200 metered parking spaces. Driessen Beach Park is located off US 278, past a residential neighborhood on Bradley Beach Road. The park has a playground and a pavilion with picnic tables and grills. The path to the beach is longer from Driessen Beach Park, but it is wheelchair accessible. Metered spaces are numbered off and paid for at a master meter near the building housing the restrooms, and for just a few dollars, visitors can enjoy a day spent by the waves.
Fish Haul Creek Beach – 226 Beach City Road
Fish Haul Creek Park offers visitors a place to park with a brief hike before hitting the sand. The path leading from the parking lot to the beach is a little longer than most, but it has scenic stops along the way. One stop provides an observation deck looking out over the marshes, while another has a covered pavilion with a bench and binocular machine. Further down, another stop has a pavilion with picnic tables. The trail ends at the beach, but the topographical diversity makes it more fitting for a day spent exploring instead of swimming in the water.
Folly Field Beach Park – 55 Starfish Drive
Folly Field Beach Park is in the middle of the island’s beaches, just slightly north of Burkes Beach. Folly Field has fairly calm, shallow waters and is a great place for wading and boogie boarding. Its wide beaches also make it ideal for a beach bike ride. This public access has roughly 40 parking spaces that take quarters, and the lot has a wooded park entrance and a boardwalk leading to the water. This access point has various amenities including restrooms, showers and seasonal beach rentals, and the boardwalk makes this family-friendly beach wheelchair accessible. Folly Field is a little more remote, but it is still within walking distance of nearby restaurants and resort communities.
Islander’s Beach Club – 94 Folly Field Road
The Islander’s Beach Club, on the north end of the island, is frequented by locals with annual parking permits. While the parking is always reserved for permit holders, the beach is a great option for those arriving by bike. The beach park itself offers plenty of shade, a big playground area, outdoor showers and restrooms. A boardwalk bridge and beach matting lead visitors from the parking lot to the shore, and the picnic area is perfect for an afternoon retreat for lunch, away from the sand and the sun.
Mitchelville Beach – 124 Mitchelville Road
Mitchelville Beach, just off Beach City Road, is a hidden gem on the island, providing a beautiful natural landscape. The beach has inlets and tidal pools as well as fallen limbs, and Mitchelville Beach is a perfect choice for those interested in more active beach day activities, such as kayaking or hiking. Mitchelville Beach Park has a large parking lot where visitors can park for free, and the area has several amenities as well. This beach is fairly quiet and crowd-free, and guests can find shells and animal tracks on the sand. This area has an untouched look and feeling and offers incredible views.