48 Hours in Hilton Head Island

The weekend getaway often becomes a monotonous reinterpretation of previous memories. We try to relive our past adventures by returning to those places we go to over and over again. It's a condition that people from North Carolina are notorious for. You might think that the only two places you can actually visit are Myrtle Beach or the mountains. People treat their balcony selfies at broken down Myrtle resorts as if it was international travel to some exotic island in the South Pacific. Go ahead and hold that sand bucket of alcohol up and yell "Hey Y'all" on social media one more time, because there's no doubt you'll be back in a months time to repeat the process.

I love (and hate) Myrtle Beach as much as then next person, but what if there was an island within driving distance... A grown-up version of the Beach where great food and pristine beaches exist that rival Hawaii or Goa? Would you go or would you continue your Groundhog Day vacations of soul sucking hot-tubs filled with litters of children you want to slowly drown?

It took us only about  five hours to reach Hilton Head Island from our house in North Carolina. A quick stop for breakfast in Florence and by the afternoon we were checked into our hotel that was one block from the beach. Unlike Myrtle where friends were complaining of overcast skies and the cold, the Gulf Stream was bringing near 85+ F weather perfect for putting the convertible top down on the Mustang.

 By dinner time we were at the Sea Shack, a locals' favorite and must eat in Hilton Head with cheap hand battered sea-food caught locally. I grabbed some fried alligator and a blackened shrimp po-boy after a short wait in the queue. Unlike the $50 a plate restaurants that many tourists may find on the review sites, this tiny seafood shack works by word of mouth and has been voted the best place in town for 77 years. No wonder food celebrities like Rachel Ray make this their choice for fish when on the island. Don't forget the strawberry pie for dessert

With house prices on Hilton Head in the millions of dollars, it's no surprise we had to pay $6 to enter the posh community surrounding the lighthouse that evening. Included are priceless sunsets, walks along the beach, shopping and food. By nightfall, we returned to the hotel with a cheap bottle of wine and took a swim in the pool. Our near-beach location was at a modest Days Inn that cost only $56 a night while similar properties in Myrtle Beach were $150 (booked through Wyndham).

The next morning we rolled out of our king sized bed and into the dining room for some free breakfast (waffles, biscuits, sausage and egg). Had we had a larger budget, we both agree we would have loved to try the Java Burrito company for a breakfast burrito and a coffee.

After way too many carbs, we headed over to Coligny Beach about a mile from the hotel. The beach was pristine. From the golden sand to the gentle ocean waves on the palm tree lined shore it's nothing like the cluttered chaos of the public beaches at Myrtle. The beach has WiFi, changing rooms and showers for the low price of free. Locals walk their genetically modified luxury Labradoodles, all of whom are named Princess, as you lay out on the warm sand. While there are a few children, it's quite nice to have the absence of E.coli carrying diaper dunkers yelling "Marco Polo" every twenty seconds as a Frisbee flies into your forehead.

A photo posted by Liv Jones (@liv_adara) on

By the time lunch rolled around we visited Philly's, voted the island's number one sandwich shop for a South Side Steak and Cheese with pizza sauce and hot peppers for just $10. The owner makes his own homemade (cheese) Whiz. Next door is the Candy Canopy where luxury hand chocolates will not make it very far out the door in their gold-stickered boxes before you'll want to taste them. After some light shopping and a bit of walking we picked up a six pack of German beer and headed back poolside. Eventually, we settled in for a movie in our room and cuddled in our quiet hotel. Later that night we ordered a Venice style pizza from Guiseppi's, Hilton Heads best pizza place and then proceeded to fall into a deep slumber of sunburnt dreams.

A photo posted by Liv Jones (@liv_adara) on

The next day we headed home, up 17 North through the small rural beach communities to Charleston. We caught a cup of coffee in the historic town of Beufort while admiring the charm of magnolia trees and classic southern architecture.

While Hilton Head can be quite expensive, we managed 48 hours in Hilton Head without breaking the bank. The experience was amazing considering we didn't plan out our adventure at all and I can say without a doubt it was more relaxing than the more traditional choices for a weekend beach trip from North Carolina. Give it a go if you're needing to getaway, I'd highly recommend it.


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