Hoppin' Good News: We frogs are offering discounts on Disney's Hilton Head Beach Resort. You can enjoy this toadally awesome family-friendly getaway from just $253 a night.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is known for frogtastic outdoor recreation, especially in the peak beach season in April through September. The Hilton Head area differs from busier city and beach destinations with a more low-key feel. With miles of white sandy beaches, wide, flat bike paths, oodles of water sports and golf courses, you can relax or play as hard as you want with your family. Let’s hop to it and discover some of the top things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids.
Top Things To Do on Hilton Head Island with Kids
Hit the Beach on Hilton Head Island with Kids
Hilton Head is surrounded by 12 miles of beautiful sandy beaches perfect for swimming, playing and relaxing! The beaches are public, but some of them may have private access. Lifeguards are on duty at many beaches such as Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field and Islanders Beach Park during the beach season, which runs from April 1 to Sept. 30.
There are a few things you should know about the beaches of Hilton Head. First of all, the tidal swing is quite large. You should check the tidal chart to know when high tides and low tides are. There are two high tides and two low tides each day. The beaches may pretty much disappear during high tide. Try to visit the beach during a low or falling tide. Also, the humidity makes warm summer temperatures feel even hotter, so bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Take steps to protect your family from the sun with reef-safe sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and UV swimwear. Rent umbrellas for extra shade.
There are designated swimming areas from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. during beach season. No fishing, surfboards, body boards, frisbees, ball team sports or games with metal are allowed in those areas during those times.
Engage in Water Sports or Boating
Water sports rank high among our top things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids. You can make a big splash with so many available choices in water sports and boat tours. We amphibians sort of love everything to do with the water, and being an island, Hilton Head is surrounded by water. Inviting water temperatures average from the high 70s to low 80s from June into October. Many activities are seasonal and may close during the winter, but are available during peak beach season.
Top water sports and boating activities available at Hilton Head include:
- Jet Skiing/Wave Runners
- Stand-up paddle boarding
- Surfing (lessons available at Palmetto Dunes)
- Body boarding
- Pirate ship dolphin tours
- Water skiing, wake boarding or knee boarding
There’s so much to do on the water that it’s hard to narrow it down! If you prefer to relax on the water, you can simply rent a pontoon and cruise around or take a boat tour. And if you think you’ve seen it all, you can take a mermaid boat tour (for real!), where you are guaranteed to meet a mermaid who swims up to your boat and talks to you about ocean conservation and wildlife.
Remember that dramatic tidal swing we talked about? The tides also affect creeks, estuaries and the Calibogue Sound. You should plan your water sports and boat trips around the tidal schedule. The falling tide can create a current in the channels, and you have to use extra caution when boating at low tide due to emerging sand bars or other obstacles.
The fishing on Hilton Head is reel good. But you should familiarize yourself with the rules for fishing at Hilton Head before you go. Fishing licenses are required for people 16 years old and up. You must have a saltwater recreational fishing license for harvesting finfish, oysters, clams, shrimp and crabs. Licenses are inexpensive and easy to get. So, a fishing license is well worth avoiding the expensive fines of fishing or collecting without a license. A crabbing expedition may be a new thing you can try on Hilton Head Island, or you can even go shrimp trawling to change things up.
Putt Around the Golf Courses
Hilton Head is considered a golfer's paradise, with over 24 championship golf courses. No matter how skilled you are, if you want to work on improving your game, you can take lessons with PGA-trained instructors at the Golf Academy of Hilton Head at Sea Pines.
If you do not have serious golfers in your crew, family members of all ages can play miniature golf together. BTW, have you have heard of FootGolf? We hadn’t, but we’re willing to try anything fun. In FootGolf, your goal is to kick a soccer ball into a 21-inch cup with as few kicks as possible. You can play 9 holes at Port Royal Golf Club.
If you love the game of tennis, you’ll be hopping excited to know that Hilton Head has some of the top tennis resorts and camps in the world. There are 350 tennis courts on the island! The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center has 23 clay courts and two Nova ProBounce courts.
Explore by Bicycle
One of the best ways to get around Hilton Head Island is by bicycle. The flat terrain and 50 miles of wide, paved trails make for safe and easy family rides to the beach, to explore the island or to go get some ice cream. In addition to renting bicycles, you can also rent single and double jogging strollers from Hilton Head Outfitters so you do not have to bring your own, which can be difficult to travel with.
Go on Animal Expeditions and Visit Nature Centers
We frogs love seeing and meeting other animals. One of the cool things about Hilton Head is that it is home to some unique animals that we don’t get to see every day where we live. You can take boat tours to find bottlenose dolphin friends, say hello to sea turtles or sidle up to some sharks. Ahoy, buccaneers! You can even combine some of your favorite things and take a pirate ship dolphin tour out on the water! It’s fun to explore natural areas like the lagoons on your own via canoe. Or, go the more educational route by taking a tour with a naturalist to learn about the birds, manatees and other creatures in the area.
Another way to experience nature is on land. So, hop ashore to visit Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. You can explore the area in search of white-tailed deer, foxes, bobcats and alligators (from a safe distance, of course). Take flight vicariously (while keeping those toes on the ground) with a bird-watching tour at the Audubon-Newhall Preserve.
The Coastal Discovery Museum allows your little explorers to learn about natural history, cultural heritage and animals. Tadpoles love the family-friendly, hands-on exhibits, trails, butterfly enclosure, Marsh Tacky horses and special programs for preschoolers.
Another animal-related activity is to go horseback riding on Hilton Head. There are nature-based tours that meander through a forest preserve where you can observe wildlife.
Find Fun at Your Hotel
You do not have to look hard to find fun if you are staying at a kid-friendly hotel. Sign up for any fun half-day or full-day kids club activities your tadpoles might enjoy. There may be games and recreational activities for fun family time, a pool for splashing in (maybe even with a water slide!), movie nights and more.
Discover Indoor Entertainment
Since peak beach season is also the rainy season, it’s a good idea to have some fun indoor plans in you back pocket when you need to shift gears from the beach to finding indoor entertainment for the kids.
Your tadpoles certainly won’t complain if you surprise them with a trip to the Adventure Cove Arcade or to the Island Playground, which has indoor entertainment to get the wiggles out such as climbing walls, bouncy houses and more. Don’t froget to call first to confirm open play times, which can vary. Young tadpoles up to age 8 will enjoy playing with you at The Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum.
Get High — Literally!
For spectacular views, climb the Harbour Town Lighthouse to drink in the surrounding beauty. For even more adventure, you can go zip lining, participate in challenge activities up in the trees or even take a helicopter tour for a bird's eye view while on Hilton Head Island.
The quaint, tree-shaded Main Street Village has some unique boutique shops and places to eat. You can also do some souvenir shopping or get some ice cream at the Coligny Plaza (which is a good choice in the rain with covered walkways). If you are bargain hunters, you might do some damage at the Tanger Outlets. The Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina has shops, restaurants and a festival on Tuesday nights during summer.
Visit HarbourFest in Summer
End every Tuesday night with a bang with fireworks and more at HarbourFest! From mid-June to mid-August, Shelter Cove Harbour presents a family-friendly festival with carnival games, face painting, live music and a fireworks finale (at 9:30 p.m.). You may even opt to book a fireworks cruise to see the show from the water. Of course, there are also fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Be sure to hop over for more tips for visiting Hilton Head with kids. If you are looking for kid-friendly lodging, be sure to check out our hoppin’ good rates for Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
Wow! Did you realize there were so many hoppening things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids? The island is only 12 miles long and 5 miles wide, but it really packs in the opportunities for fun. Do you have any favorite top things to do on Hilton Head Island with kids? Please share them in the comments section below.
Related: Tips for Visiting Hilton Head with Kids