Bicycling

Hilton Head by Bicycle

The Town of Hilton Head Island offers over 14 scenic miles of public pathways so bicyclists and pedestrians may travel about the island in a safe and enjoyable environment. It's a popular and healthy way to take in the natural sights and beauty that Hilton Head is known for.

The Town has recently built a new pathway from the Coligny Beach to the Bridge and other major activity centers. In addition, there are another 34 miles of bike trails inside Sea Pines Plantation.

The hard-packed beaches are also popular for bicycling at low tide. If you are staying with Hilton Head Hideaways, than you have a brand now aluminum bike with a basket and lock to explore the Island and the Beaches.


A bike ride down the Atlantic beach

If you bike from the Westin or Islander Beach Park to Land's End in Sea Pines, you will have traveled about 11 miles one way. You can do this on a beach bike in an hour and a half with the wind at your back if you don't stop. But, it will be much more enjoyable if you make some stops and learn about the island from the beach, even if you don't make the whole trip.

Let's take a hypothetical bike excursion. With the wind at our backs, and a couple of hours before low tide, we start at:

The Islander Beach Club, at beach marker 110 (11 miles from marker 1) and head south.

Within a few hundred feet we see a large complex of high rise, brown, wood buildings. This is Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort, a budget priced tourist accommodation. There is a bar beachside, and although this is private property they might not mind serving up a cool one or feeding you. There is entertainment in season.

At marker 105 (you have now traveled all of a half mile) is Folly Field Beach Park, described above. Not much to do here unless you need to use the restrooms. While dangerous conditions such as riptides and undertows can exist on any beach, the Folly is an area where swimmers have gotten in trouble.

Marker 102 is where the Dreissen Beach Park is located (description above). If you have children with you, they can enjoy the playground or you can break out the sandwiches and sit at a picnic table.

At marker 98 is Burke's Beach. Not much to do here except watch people crabbing in the estuarine creeks.

Marker 82 is the Marriott Beach and Golf Resort in Palmetto Dunes Plantation. Here is the Point Comfort poolside and beachside bar, and Quinn's II, a restaurant offering a limited menu of good food at either outdoor tables or inside in the air conditioning, also with an ocean view.

Disney Resort, the time share at Shelter Cove, has a beachfront facility at marker 80A just past marker 81.

The next hotel you will see is the Crown Plaza Resort in Shipyard Plantation at marker 71A, just past marker 72. This hotel has a poolside bar, but it's located a fairly long walk from the beach through a pavilion used for group affairs. The bar hours are irregular, but the grounds are quite attractive.

Now we have a stretch of about a mile before we hit the busiest part of the beach, starting at marker 61, where the Sea Crest has an ocean front bar and food service between their two swimming pools.

Immediately past the Sea Crest at marker 59A is Coligny Beach, the island's most popular, described above. Right next to it is the Holiday Inn's Tiki Hut, a popular beach bar that offers entertainment afternoons and evenings in season. The public is always welcome at the Tiki Hut. This is the best people watching spot on the Island and features 2 beach volley ball courts.

Less than a mile further you will see the Marriott Grand Ocean Resort, a high rise time share. Immediately next to it is the Alder Lane public beach, at marker 52A. You can get a soft drink from a vending machine there or use the restrooms, because the next segment is a mile and a half away.

At marker 38 is the popular Sea Pines Beach Club, described above. Here you can stop for a drink, a burger, and to listen to some entertainment.

The next mile and a half is my favorite stretch of beach. It's very wide and lined with impressive mansions. Wildlife is ever present - Ospreys diving for their catch, Dolphins rising to breathe or slapping the water with their tails to stun fish, and entertaining Pelicans doing their ungainly crash dives. At marker 13 is Tower Beach. Not much reason to stop here unless you need to use the restrooms.

The next mile or so takes you around the "toe" of Hilton Head, a turn toward the West. The beach here is Calibogue Sound beach, and it also teems with wildlife. If the timing is right, you might see a great sunset here. The beach ends at a breakwater that slows the migration of sand into the mouth of Braddock Cove, the entrance to the South Beach marina. In the distance you can see the Harbour Town lighthouse, and on your right is Land's End, a South Beach community.

That's the end of our hypothetical trip. Since Sea Pines plantation is private, and, since going from the beach inland is technically trespassing, we might want to double back to where we can legally get back to the street. To do this you need to go back beyond the Sea Pines Beach Club, perhaps to Alder Land at marker 53. I certainly would not advocate trespassing and bringing the bikes in at marker 4, where the catamarans and other boats are beached if you are not staying in the plantation. By now the tide is coming in and we can ride back along the leisure trails, where the wind is much less noticeable.

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