Any article or discussion about Hilton Head Island and tourism must include Sea Pines, which is one of the reasons the iconic photo above of the harbor at Harbor Town in that magnificent resort, has come to be the most popular symbol of Hilton Head Island.
Tourism really moved from a slow progression into high gear when in 1956, Charles E. Fraser turned 5,200 acres of Hilton Head pine forests into the world-renowned Sea Pines Plantation, attracting visitors from all over the globe.
Mr. Fraser was a brilliant entrepreneur, but he had climate and geography working for him. Both of these factors would make possible vacationers’ favorite activities available almost year-round.
The climate is the foundation that affords the tourist the opportunity to enjoy their vacation time in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With an average year-round temperature of 66.3°F, and a low of 58.3°F the Lowcountry is a safe and comfortable retreat from the frigid north.
Add to this, the geographical features of the Lowcountry, namely; beaches, waterways; rivers and creeks accessed from an almost level terrain, and you have the natural topographies available to support superior facilities to engage in the six most popular outdoor activities today.
All of this in under seventy square miles.
Tourism only prospers if there are marvelous things for the tourist to see and to do. Let us take a look at the availability of these six most popular outdoor activities in The South Carolina Lowcountry.
The Bluffton – Hilton Head area of the Lowcountry is a biking enthusiast’s dream. With over one-hundred-miles of designated and maintained bicycle paths, much of them paved, for a single biker or a family out to enjoy the outdoors together, the selection of settings is vast. The paths range from wooded to actually, on the beach, along side the Atlantic Ocean. When you visit or move to the area, be sure to include in your ‘toys’ a good, well fitted bicycle and don’t forget the basket. The adjoining photo depicts the pathways.
Is fishing an outdoor activity you enjoy occasionally or are absolutely passionate about? If your answer to either of those questions is yes, the South Carolina Lowcountry is the place to be. With over fourteen rivers and sounds in Beaufort County alone plus the Atlantic Ocean, there is a selection of fishing opportunities to choose from like nowhere else. From saltwater through brackish waters onto freshwater the diversity of fish to catch and methods of fishing are spectacular.
The variety of fish that are caught in the waters around Hilton Head is amazing. The fresh water creeks, streams and rivers yield over forty species of fish, while, there are eighty saltwater species. All are available to the angler fishing the saltwater bays, coves and ocean surrounding Hilton Head, and approximately forty of these are available to the inshore angler.
Bluffton/Hilton Head Island encompasses an area of less than 125 square miles and is called home by under 60,000 full-time residents, yet, there are over forty golf courses for the enjoyment of our ‘passionate golfers’, over thirty of which are open to the public.
These are not just humdrum public courses, these fields of play, about which everyone from the new amateur to the professional golfer can find challenge, beauty and satisfaction in improvement, are world class.
These courses are designed by such famous and talented architects as, Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus, Dye, Fazio, Robert Cupp, Robert Trent Jones and Arthur Hills.
In my discussion above of biking in the Hilton Head ~ Bluffton area I noted that there are over one-hundred miles of maintained trails. Well these trails are for the use of the hiker as well. Mostly level paths through various settings, it is the perfect environment for the foot traveler that wants diversity but not the range of diversity found in a safari.
On the other hand, for those seeking adventures closer to that of a safari they can find them at every level in the South Carolina Lowcountry. There is the magnificent Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge’s four-thousand acres which can be traveled leisurely on foot over the suggested trails that range from 1.2 miles to 7.8 miles (The accompanying photo is from Pinckney’s Ibis Pond). Or try the miles of forested trails winding around eight lakes in Jasper County’s Sargent Jasper Park. For the truly adventurous, take the hike, closest to a safari, through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, a 31,551 acre National Wildlife Refuge straddling Chatham and Effingham counties in Georgia and Jasper County in South Carolina, less than a twenty minute drive from Bluffton.
Since the serious introduction of tennis to the island at Sea Pines in 1971, every resort and community develops and maintains outstanding facilities, including hard courts, clay courts and even grass courts. Thus, affording the Hilton Head Island resident the opportunity to play as the pros do in the Australian and the US Open (Hard Courts), the French Open (Clay) and Wimbledon (Grass).
As of this writing the island is home to over five-hundred courts.
That kind of says it all as to opportunities for tennis enthusiasts in our Lowcountry.
Of the six most popular outdoor activities, I would have to place kayaking at the top of my list. I have personally kayaked in many locations and can attest to the vast health benefits of the sport. But rather than listen to a senior citizen rhapsodize on his belief that he has found the key to youth I will simply quote the Australian Health Channel’s comments:
Improved cardiovascular fitness. Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle. Increased torso and leg strength, as the strength to power a canoe or kayak comes mainly from rotating the torso and applying pressure with your legs.
But I will point out that besides these fantastic benefits, here in the Lowcountry you get the awesome added thrill of what you will encounter while Kayaking our waterways.