If you're a regular summer visitor to Hilton Head Island, you're probably familiar with the resort's most popular beach parks - Coligny, Folly Field, Driessen. But there is one often-overlooked park offering a totally different beach experience.
Fish Haul Creek Park isn't well-known with visitors because it's on Port Royal Sound and isn't really a swimming beach. And that's what makes it so special. You're not going to find a shoreline filled with beach umbrellas and chairs - just wide open sand to walk in solitude and observe nature.
Tucked away near the end of Beach City Road, this 31-acre preserve is a sanctuary of quiet far removed from the busy visitor attractions. A shaded trail through a pristine maritime forest leads to the seashore.
This section of beach, located at the heel of the shoe-shaped island, is excellent for clamming and fishing. On a recent visit to the park, I watched several local residents throwing cast nets for shrimp.
It's also popular with rambunctious pups. Dog owners can let their pets run free in the sand and surf and not have to worry about disturbing sunbathers or kids building sandcastles. You'll still need to follow town regulations regarding animals on the beach. Click here for the full list of rules.
Another trail takes you to a boardwalk and observation deck extending into the salt marsh, offering more opportunities to view herons, egrets and other shore birds. Binoculars are available to see far off into the sound and across a vast expanse of Spartina grass.
The park also features restrooms and a small pavilion with two picnic tables. A bike path connects the park to the main recreational trail along Hilton Head Parkway. If you decide to drive, ample parking is available near the trailhead leading to the beach and pier.