Saturday, September 24, 2011
Hilton Head Island SC
I have to say Hilton Head Island was nothing like what I expected. Well, I guess I didn't really know WHAT to expect as we made our way down US 278. The approach to Hilton Head is a tree lined highway that could be anywhere USA. I could have been traveling the highways of New Hampshire or Wisconsin for the lack of any hint of the ocean. This surprised me. I was waiting for the trees to part and a vista of the ocean, or at least a glimpse of the beach, to come into view. That never happened.
What I saw was a community that seems to hide its charms. I like the uncluttered look that is achieved, I can only imagine, by having very strict sign ordinances. No billboards, no large ad signs of any kind along the road. All of the businesses, both local places and national chains, have small monument signs marking their locations. Every business, from the diner where we ate breakfast, to the local CVS, are all signed the same way. While this makes for a uniform view and uncluttered roadway it makes finding things difficult for first time visitors. At least it did for this one. It also added to the overall feeling of unwelcome I felt.
Hilton Head doesn't embrace you with warm colors and brightly lit beachside stands. While it seems to have all of those things, it makes you work for them.
Once we sorted out where the public beach was (one of them in any case, Coligny Beach) we headed that way. We parked in a free lot and walked the short distance to the beach. The pavilion leading up to the beach entrance was just lovely. Nicely appointed areas for showers and restrooms, swings and adirondack chairs for relaxing and taking in the views. The beach itself was beautiful. Neatly lined up rows of umbrella chairs, nice paths to walk on, everything in its place. It was really very nice. We stayed for a bit, walked along the water and shopped for souvenirs. That was our day in HHI.
To be fair, it was a very short visit. We stayed in the Savannah area longer than we expected. That said, I will most likely visit again. I can only assume that staying in one of the many beautiful beach front resorts would provide for a whole different experience than the one we had and would show a totally different side of the island.