An Islander’s Guide to Hilton Head Beaches

sunrisehiltonhead.com
Made Possible by
Curated by

The options when it comes to beaches on Hilton Head Island are plenty. With nearly 12 miles of white sand to choose from, it's hard to go wrong. That being said, certain beaches are more geared toward one activity or another. You don't want to surf on a beach with no waves; you don't want to kayak on tumultuous seas with nowhere to go; and you don't want to take a leisurely beach hike on a loud, crowded beach. Let us show you the ropes to Hilton Head beaches.

1. Coligny Beach

Taking in the sunset at Coligny Beach. 
Taking in the sunset at Coligny Beach.  Ron Cogswell

Coligny Beach is arguably the island’s most popular beach. Located right in the heart of Hilton Head’s busiest area, it is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Coligny Beach is home to the world famous Tiki Hut, one of Hilton Head’s only beach bars, complete with a thatched roof. This also happens to be the only place on Hilton Head where you can partake in a game of beach volleyball. Whether you're looking for a competitive game, or something to occupy the hand that isn't holding a drink, both can be found at these courts. Coligny Beach is sure to be crowded, so if you are looking for good people-watching and a good time, this is your best bet.

2. Mitchelville Beach

A beautiful panoramic shot of Mitchelville Beach
A beautiful panoramic shot of Mitchelville Beach Hilton Head Island

Mitchelville Beach is well off the beaten path. It is located in an area that is poised for development but has yet to be truly discovered. This makes it a must-see on your next trip to Hilton Head. The beach is accessible through Mitchelville Beach Park or through Fish Haul Creek Park. Mitchelville Beach Park provides a direct route to the beach from the parking lot, while Fish Haul Creek Park begins with a short hike through the woods before you are afforded beach access.

Mitchelville Beach is a hidden gem and a great beach for both hiking and coastal kayaking. It has large fallen limbs, dead trees still standing in the surf, and a number of inlets and tidal pools cutting into the shore. The topographical diversity and tidal changes make this beach an ever-changing natural playground, ripe for exploration. If you are interested in kayaking, head to Mitchelville Beach Park on a rising tide. The short walk from your car to the beach is perfect for carrying your kayak. You can explore along the coast or head up one of the creeks. Fish Haul Creek Park is a great place to start for those looking for a beach hike; you will cover both wooded forest and sandy beach taking this route.

3. Burkes Beach

A paddle surfer rides a Burkes Beach wave. 
A paddle surfer rides a Burkes Beach wave.  Island Packet

Burkes Beach has been featured as a great place to escape the summer crowds, but it is also known for having some of the best surf on Hilton Head. We are an island known for having smaller waves. Long boarders love them, and you will find them here, but this is also a favorite spot for short boarders because it boasts some of the island’s larger waves. On any given day you are bound to find a number of different surfers floating off the coast as they wait for the next set of waves to roll in. If you want to surf with the locals and enjoy some of the island’s best waves, Burkes Beach is the spot.

4. Folly Field Beach

The wide firm beaches of Folly Field are great for biking
The wide firm beaches of Folly Field are great for biking hiltonhead-sc.com

Folly Field Beach is located slightly north of Burkes Beach, planting it firmly in the middle of the island’s stretch of beaches. At low tide the waves peel back to expose a broad expanse of flat, firm sand. Folly Field’s central location and wide sandy beaches make it a perfect place to bike—which is a great way to experience Hilton Head Island. All of the beaches on Hilton Head are public land, from the water line to the dunes, however access can sometimes be a problem. On a bike though, you can make your way to the island’s more remote beaches that don’t necessarily have public access. Folly Field is a good rallying point and will put you in a position to follow the beaches north or south. The choice is yours.

5. South Forest Beach

The sun rises over South Forest Beach. 
The sun rises over South Forest Beach.  sunrisehiltonhead.com

South Forest Beach is Coligny’s less crowded cousin that still provides some of the same amenities. There is public beach access via Alder Lane off of South Forest Beach Drive. The path will take you right by a great place to grab drinks called Pool Bar Jim’s , a bar known for their frozen tropical delicacies. After you've had your fill, you can head down to the water and stretch out. South Forest Beach is a great place to soak up the sun. Of all the beaches on this list, there is no beach more geared toward carefree relaxation. Lay out a towel, close your eyes, and don’t forget the sunscreen! If you're looking for a quiet place to read a book and work on your tan, South Forest Beach will accommodate you.

Last Updated:

Next Up

Previous

Why Charlotte Ranks Among America’s Top Cities for Trail Running

Next

The Top 5 Bouldering Areas in New Mexico