Hilton Head Island. Specifically, Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. The place is special. Peaceful, magical. After seven years of vacations on the island, it is one of those places I hope our family wants to visit together each year. This is the ‘Callaway Gardens‘ from my childhood days, sans circus sponsored by arch rival college and interestingly enough, their highest ranked undergrad program (*mic drop*). If you are looking for a place where both parents and kids can find activities from sunup to sundown, HHI/Sea Pines is just that place.
The strangest thing about Sea Pines, other than the ridiculously large number of vacationers from Kentucky and Ohio, is only a few homes have a view of the ocean and renting one of those homes without multiple families or a lottery win involved is out of the question. In my early days of beach-going vacations this would have been a deal breaker. After all, why drive all the way to the beach not to be able to see it all of the time, right? Don’t get me wrong, hearing, seeing, smelling the ocean from your back porch is pretty darn special. But finding that setting with the bike trails, canopy of trees/shade, pool accessibility and without an airline involved is a tall order. Kiawah might be close but lacking in restaurant/eatery diversity. For our family, the wide mix of activity without the involvement of a car is worth the tradeoff. Things like bike rides to ice cream, fishing, kayaking, live music in the evenings, crabbing and even swimming in a pool at the rental home are the deal-makers. Plus the backyard beach scene, while tropical and super-accessible, becomes a light switch activity for our family. Light switch on: go to the beach. Light switch off: kids inside on electronics or worse, parents managing electronics on vacation.
So what makes Sea Pines at HHI so magical? Here’s a brief taste:
Bike paths galore – not the kind tacked onto the sides of roads, but the trails through the woods kind.
Salty Dog – basically a marina with a phenomenal marketing strategy
Baynard Ruins – Revolutionary War era ruins in Sea Pines
Harbour Town – home to a marina, lighthouse, PGA Tour stop and amazing sunsets. Home to Gregg Russell and the only octagonal lighthouse in the world (114 steps tall).
Note: picture is from 2014.
Gregg Russell – for 39 summers in a row he’s been playing a show for kids/parents in Harbour Town
Crabbing old-school style – meat parts on a hook in basket on a rope with the tide coming in.
Sea Pines Beach Club – totally rebuilt in 2014 with an amazing patio bar and typically great acoustic music
Lowcountry Backyard Cafe – while not in Sea Pines, worthy of the trip for their world-class pimiento cheese and banana pudding in a mason jar.
Didn’t see enough pics yet? Check out our pics from our 2015 HHI vacation to see more. Here’s to hoping I write and you read about another VERY similar vacation in a year.