I was incredibly happy to be able to spend New Year’s Eve of 2019/2020 in Hilton Head South Carolina. We had been to South Carolina once before to see their state capitol building, but never to Hilton Head, so I was so excited. I didn’t know much about Hilton Head, aka Hilton Head Island, or that it was named after Captain William Hilton. In 1663 he was the person who identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which mapmakers named “Hilton’s Headland.”
Coligny Beach Park
Once we got settled into our room we went out and did some exploring. Of course we had to hit the beach, duh, lol. We ended up at Coligny Beach Park which is one of the most popular places on Hilton Head apparently. After walking around a while, we ended up at the Tiki Bar listening to live music. It was an incredible spot and the sunset was breathtaking. Here are some of the pictures I took while strolling along the water. As you can see, it was very low tide and we were able to walk our quite a ways. They had a live band and it was pretty lively. We were there until sunset and it was absolutely phenomenal. That’s the one thing I miss about living in CA, is watching the sunset over the water.
Anyway, the place is really amazing. Not only is it a wonderful place to access the beach, but they also have outdoor showers, changing rooms, restrooms, and a variety of lounging options. They also have chairs and umbrella rentals available on the beach. What else was cool is that it is wheelchair accessible, and they have matting that leads down to the water. Here is a link to their website with even more information.
Here are some directions if you want to visit the park and beach. Head east on Pope Avenue, take the last right before the Coligny Circle roundabout, to enter the free beach parking lot. With a crosswalk on South Forest Beach Drive, you can walk to the beach safely from your car. FYI, it can get full pretty quick, even when we were there in December/January. Happily there are also several transit services from different hotels and resorts that pull right up to the beach park to drop visitors off.
We did visit a couple of other times while in the area, but none of them were as fun or as exciting as that first night exploring the area and watching the sunset. It is a happy memory that I will carry with me for a long time. If you are in Hilton Head you should definitely check it out, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Harbour Town & Lighthouse
The next day was new year’s eve and decided to head into Sea Pines and Harbour Town to see the Harbour Town Lighthouse. FYI, there is a small daily fee to visit Sea Pines and Harbour Town. I believe it was $8 when we were there.
Whatever the cost, it was so cool to see and we found out you could actually climb up to the top for a fee. Can’t remember what it was, but there was a long line so we just decided to walk around. This was not surprising as this is the most popular and recognizable symbol of Hilton Head.
Apparently while climbing to the top visitors are entertained with low county music while being able to view artifacts from the island’s historic eras, including the Civil War. That would have been nice to see. Hopefully next time we are in the area we will take the time.
As you can see from the pictures it is a red and white octagon column with an observation deck on top. It is 90 feet tall and is mostly made of stucco on metal lath over plywood. Not sure about that last part, but I guess it works. It has been around since 1970 when Charles Fraser completed it.
Of course the lighthouse is what attracts people, but there are so many other things to see and do that keep visitors and locals alike in the harbor area. They have a lot of little quaint stores and shops to meander around and lookout. Obviously, they are geared toward tourists, but still fun to take a peek at. Here are a few that I think are still there
32 Degrees North
Camp Hilton Head I & II
Cinnamon Bear Country Store
Fashion Court, Inc.
Harbour Town Christmas
Harbour Town General Store
Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum & ShopHarbour Town Surf Shop
Harbour Town Yacht Basin Office
Hilton Head Toys at Harbour TownKnickers
Nell’s Harbour Shop
S.M. Bradford Co.
We didn’t know what to expect when we visited Harbour Town so we brought our lunch with us and ate while doing some people watching. We did get a soda, but that was about it 🙁 It was a lot of fun, but I also wish we had tried some food at one of the local restaurants. This will definitely be on our list the next time we are in the area. I can’t vouch for any of them, but here is a list of a few of them.
Cinnamon Bear Country Store
Cups & Cones
Harbourside Burgers & Brews
Links, an American Grill
Spirit of Harbour Town (Vagabond Cruise)The Crazy Crab
The Harbour Town Bakery & Café
The Liberty Oak
The Quarterdeck, Waterfront Dining
Harbour Town Pier & Marina
After we finished our lunch we walked around some more and walked along the pier. It wasn’t very long and was a pleasant stroll. We saw a lot of boats in the marina, birds flying everywhere. Since it was so nice out, we took our Christmas picture for 2020 on the pier. While walking around we also saw some guys kayaking in the water. I kept thinking I hope they don’t capsize because that water had to have been pretty cold. Luckily that didn’t happen.
One thing I sadly learned was that the pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew on October 8, 2018. People say it is compactly different since it’s be rebuilt. We never knew what it was like before, but is now open and what we saw was quite beautiful. Great job on getting it back open!
From I-95, take Exit 8 (eight miles north of the Georgia border) onto Highway 278 and go east following the signs for Hilton Head Island. Continue for about 18 miles and cross over the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway to Hilton Head Island.
If you are traveling to the South end of the island (Shipyard, Coligny, Forest Beach, Sea Pines), stay to the left and use the Cross Island Expressway to save time. However, don’t forget $1.25 for the toll! Otherwise, keep right and stay on Highway 278 Business / William Hilton Parkway to venture onto the island’s north end, or to avoid the toll. Avoiding the toll will add about ten to 15 minutes to your drive should you rather take this longer route to the South end of Hilton Head Island.
New Year’s Eve Celebration
We had some other sightseeing we wanted to do so we left Harbour Town and came back later that night for live music and fireworks to bring in the New Year (little did we know what the year would bring 🙁 ). It was a lovely celebration with a lot of people walking around, listening to the music, and checking out the Christmas train and lights. It was still decked out for Christmas, which made it even more exciting.
The band playing the live music was The Nice Guys. They were good and were set up right under the old oak tree. We set and listened to them awhile, even though you could hear them if you were near the harbor. It was just fun to be part of the crowd (I miss that). It was also fun to watch the fireworks signaling the start of the new year.
We had a wonderful couple of days in Hilton Head visiting Coligny Beach and Harbour Town. My only regret was that it was too short. Next time we will have to go and stay longer. There is a lot more to see and do. We just tipped the top of the iceberg on that visit. Hope to visit again in the future. Here is a link to their website with more information if you are thinking about your own trip.
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6 thoughts on “Hilton Head, SC – Coligny Beach Park and Harbour Town Island”
I loved visiting Hilton Head. Great blog post.
HI Amanda, thank you for stopping by and for leaving a msg. It is a beautiful area huh?
Hilton Head is one of the places to visit on my bucket list. Thanks for the preview.
I love Hilton Head Island. We use to go there in the summer time when I was a teenager. I think I spent all my time on the beach. Your’ pictures showed me more of the island than I ever saw. Thanks for sharing.
What a nice visit you had! I live in the lowcountry area and have never been to any of those places, LOL. Nice that you got that trip in before the pandemic.
Hi Jeanine, yeah it was the last real trip we took before the stupid Wuhan virus hit. I am so glad we were able to go and visit this beautiful area. It’s the same way with us, we live here in CO, but have never been to a few places in our own backyard. I am working on that though, lol Thanks for the msg. Hope you get to visit one day yourself. Happy travels.