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Hilton Head Hacks

Who wants stress on their vacation?  Here is a collection of ‘hacks’ that you can use to make things go a little smoother and give you extra time on the beach without as much aggravation!

Watch the moonrise instead of the sunrise

Both the sun and the moon will rise over the ocean, and the view from the beach is spectacular – even if there are a few clouds.  But the sunrise is, like, really early, and if you are not a morning person, check the moon phases and ‘moonrise.’  The best time to do this is the few days right after a full moon.  The full moon rises at sunset, and each day after the full moon it will rise about an hour later.  We can promise that watching the moon come up over the ocean is a sight you will not soon forget.

Eat breakfast before 9:00

If you want to eat out (at The French Bakery, for instance) arrive before 9am.  All the places start getting crowded by 9:30 to 9:45.

Use the lifeguards

If you have questions about the beach, rules, tides, or sea creatures, ask a lifeguard.  They are (almost always) happy to talk with you and have a great deal of information simply from living on the beach for most of their lives.

High Top Tables

The SERG restaurants (they have some of the best casual dining on the island) have a long waiting list, especially in the summer.  We are talking up to two hours!  But many of them have an unknown hack – the high-top tables near the bar.  These tables are First Come, First Served, and if one is available, grab it, and soon a waiter will bring you a menu.  This little-known trick can get you seated in minutes.  And if you see a party that is about to leave, be bold and nicely ask if you could get their table when they depart.  Strike up a conversation and be friendly, and they will usually guard the space until you are seated.

Visit the island parks if everything else is crowded

Summer can be full of visitors, so if you want a break consider some of the parks on the island.  Two of the best are on the south end – Sea Pines Forest Preserve and the Audubon Newhall Preserve.  Also, consider the Coastal Discovery Museum.  The museum is interesting, but the grounds are amazing.  They have the largest collection and variety of camellias on the island – but they only bloom during the winter.

Movie theater

The ‘locals’ like Park Place Cinema.  Small theaters, but every chair reclines and they usually have a $5 deal on Tuesdays.

The boat ride to Savannah is cool – but they take the long way

It looks like you could be at Savannah in a short time, but the trip takes the Intercoastal Waterway and, as such, pokes along at a very slow rate.  This is cool for the first 30 minutes or so, but then it gets a little boring.  You could easily drive there faster.

Elevator hack

This is one of my favorites.  You are staying in a multi-story condo and were lucky enough to snag a cart.  You are all packed up, but since you are on one of the lower floors, every time the elevator door opens, it is already packed with folks from the floors above.  So … push the ‘UP’ button.  Sounds crazy, but after the car unloads and gets called to a floor above yours it will stop at your floor first.  You will have a brief ride up, but then you get the satisfaction of watching the people on the fifth floor be greeted with a full elevator before you head back down to the ground floor.

October through March are the best times to be in Hilton Head

Why?  No crowds, almost no wait at any restaurant.  Temperatures and humidity are both low.  Rates are more affordable and more units are available.  And the Hilton Head Christmas decorations are spectacular!

Brunch and early dinner

Another dining tip – live on just two meals a day.  You will save money, and if you eat a brunch (maybe at 10:30) you will have the middle of the day free and can break for an early dinner at maybe 5:00.  Some restaurants (like Franky Bones) often have special prices, tables are easier to get, and you will have a more enjoyable dining experience.

Get to Hilton Head early, leave late

Checkout for most rentals is 10:00 am, and check-in is at 4:00 pm.  Since there is only one bridge, the traffic is horrible Saturday morning leaving the island, and Saturday afternoon coming on the island.  Why not plan to get to Hilton Head before lunch on Saturday?  You miss the traffic, and there are fewer people.  Locals call this time between 10 and 4 “the turn,” and it is when the units are cleaned, inspected, and made ready for the next guest.  But your guest pass will get you into Palmetto Dunes in the morning, and you can see the beach, eat a nice lunch, and possibly even get into your unit early if the cleaners have finished (be sure to check with your host).  Do the same thing when you leave and marvel at the line of cars sitting in traffic as they try to get on the island by 4:00.
Hilton Head is truly one of the most wonderful places on earth, and we hope this page of tips will help you get the most out of your vacation!
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