An October 2000 trip
to Hilton Head by vampirefan
Quote: Several years ago we took off to Hilton Head to stay at the Disney resort. It was magical. Hilton Head is a wonderful place and has far more to offer that just world-class golf.
I loved everything about Hilton Head. So there was not any time when I wasn’t enjoying myself. The island itself is pristine and stunning.
The Disney resort is just wonderful. I highly recommended a visit here. It makes you feel like you are in the rustic woods near a lake. It makes a perfect getaway for the whole family.
Riding horses on the beach at Sea Horse Farms was so relaxing and romantic. I didn’t want to leave. There is nothing more romantic that the gentle ride on a horse with the gentle lapping of the waves around you. Pure heaven!
Hilton Head has some great restaurants, and their seafood is gourmet-quality. Crazy Crab offered some great seafood and other entries for those of us not interested in seafood. Gusipies has some out-of-this-world pizza. And for down-home cooking, the Hilton Head diner was perfect.
One weekend here, and I was hooked.
Hotel | "Disney Hilton Head Island Resort"
While I was a travel agent, our Disney rep. came in to give us a Disney seminar. One of the things she told us about the Disney Resort in Hilton Head. Needing a break, I brought home the information and asked John if he was interested. Being the big Disney fan, he sure was.
I originally booked our stay under a travel agent rate. This gave us a bedroom and a sleeper sofa in the living room for my mother-in-law. I requested a visitor’s package from www.hiltonheadisland.org and noticed they had an even better package than I could get as a travel agent! Wow! This one gave us two bedrooms and a $25 gift certificate for less money! Okay, sign us up. This is why I always recommend requesting a visitor’s package when traveling.
The Disney Resort opened in 1996. It sits behind a marine harbor and has a beautiful marsh in the back. The 15-acre resort is surrounded by massive oaks tress, many dating back over 100 years. The resort is more like a rustic cabin feel that what usually associate with Disney. This is a timeshare, but you do not have to participate in a tour to stay here. We didn’t. They also offer the Disney Resort as just a resort.
We had a two-bedroom cabin. Our room had an oversized wrought-iron king-size bed. We had a 37" TV in an armoire. The room had two oversized chairs, chest of drawers, and a truck. The furniture was made of wood, with a very rustic feel. The bedspread looked like an Amish quilt. The colors come from nature, featuring rust, dark green, and yellows. Our room opened up to the private deck. The bathroom in our room featured a hot tub. The bathroom was very spacious and luxurious. It featured his and her sinks. The amenities basket featured Mickey Mouse products (which were actually Dove), and the shampoo and conditioner was Pantene. There is also a shower in case you’re not in the mood for the hot tub. My mother-in-law's room included two full-sized beds and a full bathroom. Her bathroom did not come with a hot tub. Instead, she had a regular bath/shower. The bathroom was slightly smaller, but still nice and cozy. She also had a TV, chest of drawers, and a big comfy chair.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 11, 2005
Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
22 Harbourside Lane
Hilton Head, South Carolina 29928
Remember that I told you that Hilton Head is very good at hiding things? Well, Sea Horse Farms is a shinning example of that. John and I both love horses, and when we saw that you could ride horses on the beach, we knew we had to try.
You find the stables off the main road and go into what looks like a normal neighborhood, not where you would expect to find stables. Sure enough, they were there. At first, I thought, "This has to be wrong; there is no way there is a stable here." Then I got to thinking, "If it doesn’t look like a farm should be here, then I certainly do not see how a beach will be here." We pulled into the stables and went and checked in.
We were promptly greeted by Mindy and taken to where our horses were waiting. John was on McBeth and I was on King Arthur (sadly not Clive Owen in the movie King Arthur, but that is another story). There were two other couples that joined us. Alex and Terry were from Atlanta, and Jason and Beth, newlyweds, were from Columbia, SC. We tried to get my mother-in-law to join us, but she refused. Off we went with Dayna, who was our guide. At this point, I was still wondering where the heck the beach was. After about a 15-minute trek through the woods, viola, a beach! And what a beautiful beach.
The beach was very pristine and a private beach. There was no one on the beach but us. Talk about romantic. We rode down the beach for a while with the other couples, and everyone seemed to keep chitchat at a minimum. The views were way too lovely to be talking to anyone. After about 30 minutes, we were allowed to dismount the horses and leave them with Dayna and wonder around the beach for awhile on our own. We came back, mounted our horses, and went on back. On the way back, the horses were in the water. But they were only ankle deep (the horses’ ankles), so you don’t have to wear a swimsuit. Sadly, our 2 hours had come to a very quick end. I could have stayed there all day.
Since I love animals, I did ask about the animals and found out quite a few of them had been rescued from The Humane Society. You do have to be 8 or older to ride. They do offer children’s birthday parties with ponies. They do have vending machines and a bathroom on the premises. You do have to have advance reservations. You make those by calling 843/681-7746. The horses never go beyond a trot, so you do not need to be an experienced rider. All ages above 8 will love this adventure.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 7, 2005
Sea Horse Farms
34 Mitchelville Road
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Attraction | "Harbour Town Lighthouse"
While most lighthouses were built in the 1800s and early 1900s, the Harbour Town Light is a baby, just built in 1970.
The light was originally built as a centerpiece for a PGA tournament. This was the first privately financed lighthouse built since the 1800s. Today the light is the centerpiece for the Harbour Town community. The light is a mere 90 feet tall and is painted red and white stripes. So climbing this light is not a dubious task. The light is cylindrical shape with the spread out top. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in South Carolina. Visitors are welcome to climb to the top of the tower you get a terrific view of Hilton Head and they have a gift shop in the top where you can purchase nautical and lighthouse themed merchandise as well as Harbour Town Light merchandise. It still remains a private navigational aid.
The light sits in the gated Harbour Town. But for a $5 per carload fee, these fine folks will be glad to let you visit. You will be given a map with directions to the light. Once you’re through climbing, make sure you visit Harbour Town pier. The area where the light is, it filled with shopping and fine restaurants. While we were here we tried Crazy Crab’s Seafood. You can arrange for a number of boat tours from the pier. They have Romantic sunset cruises, dolphin watch cruises, and cruises to nearby Daufuskie Island where you will find the picturesque Haig Point Rear Range Light built in 1872. Allow your self several hours to enjoy the surroundings here. For more information you can go to www.harbourtown.com.
For more information on lighthouses, please visit www.lighthousedigest.com. They carry a very large line of lighthouse themed merchandise from house wares, lighthouses replicas, to food and books. Here you can explore their lighthouse database, which offers lighthouse information from all over the world. You can also find out Lighthouse Digest. Lighthouse Digest is a wonderful monthly magazine for the lighthouse fan. It is a great read, and I highly suggest it.
149 Lighthouse Road (accomodation/visitor information)
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Attraction | "Shelter Cove"
If you are staying at Disney, just go to the front entrance, walk across the bridge, and you will be at the shopping area known as Shelter Cove. If you are coming in from the highway, you cannot miss the huge statue of Neptune in the front.
Shelter Cove offers upscale shopping in an beautiful environment. At the back of Shelter Cove sits a beautiful marina. If you’re coming by boat, just tie up and head out. Can’t get much simpler than that. Even if you’re not a shopper, this place is simply beautiful and relaxing. The mall area has over 50 shops with such designer names as Ann Taylor, Balk’s, White House/Black Market, Talbot’s, and William and Sonoma. Fine dining on the waterfront is available at Harbour Master’s, as well as Kingfisher Seafood and Steak House. Here you will also find a number of local specialty shops with everything from crafts, house wares, gourmet items, to clothing. Here you can sign up for a number of tours ranging from sunset cruises, dolphin cruises, kayaking tours, and a number of eco tours.
Once you're done shopping and dining, just sit back and enjoy the beauty at the marina. Here you can just walk along and enjoy the beautiful boats by the water. If you are here near sunset make sure to stop and enjoy the sun going down in the beautiful southern ski. It doesn’t get much better than this. Walk around the stores and enjoy the beautiful flowers and topiaries found though out the common areas.
Hours vary by stores. They do have a number of events going on throughout the year, so make sure to visit them at www.mallatsheltercove.com.
The Mall at Shelter Cove
Shelter Cove Lane
Hilton Head, South Carolina
The living room featured a pull-out couch and two oversized, comfy chairs. You were right beside the kitchen, and there is nothing dividing the kitchen and living room area. The kitchen is a full kitchen. On the side of large island you have a 37-inch TV for guests in the living room. They both had VCR’s at the time and VCR’s in the main lobby. By now, I would imagine they would have DVD players. The kitchen has a small dining table in the corner. The kitchen is tiled and reminds me of a Mexican hacienda kitchen. Very beautiful. You do have a dishwasher, fridge, and microwave, as well as pots, pans, and table wear. You just provide the food. There is a washer and dryer in the walkway in the front. Top-floor rooms have their own spacious deck, which has a picnic table.
The main building is quite rustic and charming. Everyone at the front desk is very nice and helpful. But what else would you expect from Disney? Out front, check out the bushes shaped into Disney characters. They do have a pool in the summer months. They do have daily activities, which are included in the price. They have a fully stocked general store where you can stock up on snacks, beverages, and plenty of Disney merchandise. They offer several restaurants on the premises. They have bicycle rentals on the property. Inside the main building you will find Big Margie’s Den. Here you can watch TV, play checkers, or warm up to the fire in cooler months. Your room key is also your account. Just like at the Disney resorts, you can use it for purchases on your property and it is charged to your account.
Disney guests have access to the Palmetto Dunes, which sits just across the road. It is a gated community, and you will need your Disney parking pass to get in. There you will find a beautiful and pristine beach perfect for swimming or walking hand-in-hand down the soft sand. The Disney Beach Club also features water sports and pools if you are not swimming in the ocean. They do have restaurants and shopping in the area, and of course, golf! They have courses designed by Trent Jones and George Fazio and the Arthur Hills Golf Course.
In front is the Shelter Cove Harbor, which I have a separate entry on. The resort is absolute a must for the whole family. The resort is very affordable. Come here in the fall and enjoy the warm weather and great rates. And a touch of Mickey! For more information, go to www.disney.com.
The history of Hilton Head is long and varied. There has been evidence found from the Woodland Indians who resided here during the fall and winter months. These artifacts date back from 8,000-2,000 BC.
The written history of Hilton Head can be found as far back as 1526, when Spanish explorers were on their way to the coastal waters of Key West and named it "La Florida". In the 1500s, it was explored many times, including a visit by Capt. Jean Ribouet, a French Huguenot. In August of 1663, English Capt. William Hilton explored the islands and named it "Hilton Head". The head reference comes from the visible headlands at the time. In 1717, Col. John Barnwell was the first white settler on the islands. By 1766, 25 families had permanently settled on the island.
Today it is a major playground in the coastal waters of the Carolina’s. Hilton Head is also renowned for its golf. And yes, they do have some major golf here. Everywhere you go you will find people knocking those little white balls around. A couple of major PGA tournaments are held here. You will find courses designed from such names as Tent Jones, Arnold Palmer, Fazio, and Davis Love. Other than Arnold Palmer I know nothing about the other names, but my uncle, the avid golf fan assures me they design the best courses.
Hilton Head is also big on eco-tourism. During the fall thousands of turtles lay their eggs in the soft sands found here. They have a light out policy during this time which means lights are not allowed on the beach at night. You can take part in efforts to make sure once the eggs hatch the babies make it safely to the water. There are quite a few nature reserves around. You can take dolphin watching and nature tours all over the place. You can request a visitor’s guide, which will give you further information. Most major resorts will help you make tour arrangements.
Hilton Head is a shopper's and food lover's paradise. Food wise you have hundreds of restaurants to choose from on this tiny island. Specialties include BBQ, low country cooking, and some of the freshest seafood you have every tasted. They have restaurants to fit every traveler’s budget. Shopping ranges from well know designer duds than you can find at Shelter Cove to local handmade crafts and food products.
One thing I did notice about Hilton Head is that there seems to be almost an absence of a middle class, though I am sure there is since there is a Wal-Mart here. Speaking of which, you can pick up some great souvenirs that do not break your budget. But when you first drive in, you can tell you are in a poor part of town then almost immediately you see massive, sprawling homes, and gated communities. There are quite a few of those around. In most cases you can visit the gated communities, especially those with attractions, restaurants, and stores. You either go inside the club house and request a pass or you simply pay a fee of about $2-$5 per car at the gate, and you can go on in. While people here may be a bit on the uppity side, they do not refuse folks who want to come spend money in their establishments!
Hilton Head is also one of the cleanest places I have every seen. Everything is so clean and well manicured. They do not have any big looming billboards and business signs seem to blend in with their natural surroundings. While this is very beautiful, it also is a pain for out of towners. You usually spot a sign right about the time you are passing it. I cannot tell you how many times we had to go up and turn around because we didn’t spot a sign until it was too late.
No joke--magicians David Copperfield or Lance Burton could learn a thing or two about making things disappear around here. I love lighthouses and knew there was a lighthouse in the Palmetto Dunes community, which we had access to since we were staying at Disney. The Hilton Head Rear Range Light sits on a golf course at Palmetto Dunes. The light was built in 1881 and is a skeleton light meaning it looks like the skeleton of a lighthouse before brinks are added. It is made of steel and the outside is just a frame. The daughter of a keeper, Caroline Fripp, supposedly haunts the light. We went to the clubhouse and got a map with directions to the light. We drove up and down that place for an hour. I never did find it. How you hide a 90-foot lighthouse is beyond me, but they did. If you are interested in trying to find the light your self you can visit www.palmettodunes.com. Disney guests have access to the community. Other wise you can just go and request a pass to see the light from the clubhouse. It is supposed to sit on the golf course and of course golfers have right-of-way.
Hilton Head is also a great place to day trip to or from. The very lovely and historic city of Beaufort (where a large portion of Forrest Gump was filmed) is only 30 minutes away. Beautiful Savannah, GA, is only 35 miless away. You are also only about an hour from the gorgeous Brunswick/Jeckyll Islands of Georgia. These include St. Simons, Cumberland, and Jeckyll Islands.
Hilton Head is the second-largest barrier island on the east coast. The island is a mere 12 miles long and 5 miles wide. More than 2.5 million people a year visit here. This is truly a beautiful place to spend a few days. You can enjoy walks on the beach, horse rides on the beach, kayaking, shopping, bicycling the area, or just relaxing on the beach. It is the perfect place to soak up some of the Southern rays and just let your cares fade away. If you would like to visit, please go to www.hiltonhead.org or www.hiltonhead.com for more information and for a visitors guide. Please do come enjoy this small piece of Southern paradise.
Charlotte, North Carolina