Hilton Head is the second largest barrier island on the East Coast, the largest being Long Island in New York.
The overall length of the Island is about 12 miles and the width at the widest point is approximately 5 miles. The shape of the Island actually resembles a shoe with the “heel” on the north, where Port Royal Sound exits to the Atlantic Ocean, carrying the sand and silt that the prevailing currents carry south and deposit along the beaches and the sand bars just off the coast. The coastline is, literally, a river of sand, slowly building to the south. There are roughly 30,000 acres of land mass to the Island, with 28,000 acres of dry land and 2,000 or so of marsh.
Hilton Head Island is a foot-shaped barrier island located off the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina, approximately 45 miles (72 km) north of Savannah, Ga., 90 miles (145 km) south of Charleston, S.C., and 30 miles (48 km) south of historic Beaufort, S.C. The 12-mile (19 km) long and 5-mile (8 km) wide island was the first Eco-planned destination in the United States.
Lying on the Intracoastal Waterway, Hilton Head Island encompasses 42 square miles (68 sq. km) of semi-tropical, Low Country geography. The Island’s pristine natural environment offers a relaxing, hospitable atmosphere with subtle signage and no neon lights. Fertile salt marshes, networks of lagoons and creeks, forests of moss-draped oaks, magnolias, pines, palmettos and 12 miles (19 km) of sandy beaches are interspersed with championship golf courses, tennis courts, fine restaurants and luxurious hotels, resorts and private villa accommodations.Warmed year-round by the Gulf Stream, the Island’s average daytime temperature is a mild 70°F (21°C). The average annual ocean temperature is 69°F (20°C).Approx. 31,000 permanent residents
Approx. 2.5 million annual visitors in 2000
Golf Courses: 23 (10 private) on-Island; 40 in Lowcountry area
Tennis Courts: 300 (8 clubs available for resort play)
Activities: Biking, kayaking, sailing, surfing, scuba diving, parasailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, fishing and crabbing, horseback riding, nature-based tours/nature preserves, miniature golf, playgrounds, swimming pools, dolphin-watching cruises, historic tours, Gullah heritage tours, hayrides, arts and cultural activities, shopping, fine dining and sightseeing
Hilton Head Island boasts a flourishing cultural community of fine art, music and theatrical venues. Island offerings include cultural exhibits, galleries and performances at the Coastal Carolina Arts Center, Hilton Head Playhouse, Reparatory Theatre, Hilton Head Orchestra, Hilton Head Dance School, Coastal Discovery Museum and the Cole-Heyward House Historic Center in Bluffton, S.C.
Hilton Head Island offers 12 miles (19 km) of beaches, with public access and metered parking available at the following locations: Coligny Beach, Alder Lane, Folly Field Road, Dreissen’s Beach Park, Islanders Beach Park, Collier Beach Park.
Over 250 restaurants reside on Hilton Head Island, ranging from fast-food to gourmet. Dining venues include all types of major ethnic cuisine, including French, German, Italian, Caribbean, Japanese, Greek, Chinese, Thai and Mexican. For those with a milder palate, the Island also offers great All-American and southern-style fare as well as famous local seafood.
More than 200 shops are located on Hilton Head Island, from elegant boutiques and art galleries to an indoor mall with major department stores and specialty shops. The Island also has three outlet malls featuring designer brands at a significant savings.