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Picture a breathtaking coastline that goes on for miles. The birds are chirping, children are playing in the sand, and you are relaxing with the toes in your sand. Now picture this same scene, but in early March. The off-season for East Coast beaches can be just as enjoyable as the warm on-season. Most of the shops are open for business, and the restaurants offer some of the freshest seafood you can find. But what is it really like to visit Hilton Head in the off-season? Is it insanely cold or miserably boring? No! Hilton Head Island has tons to offer even in the off-season. I am going to speak the honest truth of my experience, the good and the bad. Take a virtual trip with me to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Beach access at Hilton Head Island is conveniently located. With plenty of parking and a short walk to the beach I really enjoyed visiting it. Along the walkway you will find tons of swinging benches that offer a breathtaking view of the water. There was even a nice rubber walkway added along the sand. The water was nice and cold, and the sand was soft and perfect for building sandcastles. The beaches at Hilton Head are very well kept and perfect for all ages.
I have mixed feelings about the food at Hilton Head Island because, the food was absolutely delicious everywhere but it was also very overpriced with small portions.
The Sea Shack—a down to Earth eatery where you order at the front and seat yourself. The prices seemed high to me when we ordered but as soon as our food arrived I realized why. With a meal you get an entree, two sides, hushpuppies, and a drink. I ordered the crab cakes and holy crap let me tell you, they were great. For someone who HATES seafood, I was wishing we could go back to the Sea Shack.
The Salty Dog Cafe—a well renowned cafe with a perfect location right on the water. The Salty Dog Cafe is a famous spot in Hilton Head Island, but I felt it was very disappointing. The location was great with a stunning view of the water with tons of boats nestled in the harbor. But what I didn't like were the prices, and the amount of food you get. I ordered the $16 fried shrimp basket, on a whim, hoping that it would be delicious and enough for me to take some home. Unfortunately, I was left wanting more. The meal included eight fried shrimp and a small handful of french fries. The menu stated that this meal included a "generous portion of shrimp," which I found misleading.
Frozen Moo—a small ice cream shop, with every flavor you could ever dream of. When you walk in you are greeted by ten plus cases of ice cream to choose from. Talk about a diabetics nightmare. I had the classic mint chocolate chip, and it did not disappoint. The location was great and the ice cream was delicious.
Shopping was pretty normal as far as East Coast beaches go. There were of course tons of souvenir and beach themed stores, as well as an outlet shopping center. If you are like me and love to shop on vacation then you will love Hilton Head Island. And no worries if you forgot your bathing suit or flip flops, there are tons of beach shops right by the beach.
If you visit Hilton Head Island during the summer you will find people of all ages but during the off-season it's a different story. If you come in early March, like I did, then the atmosphere is very chilled and relaxed. The majority of people visiting during early March are older. This made it a little awkward, being some of the only young people on the island. Everywhere we went we were surrounded by the elderly, but if that is your preference then you will love it.
Hilton Head Island has tons of activities for all ages, although some are not available during the off-season. If you want to rent a paddle board, kayak, or surf board you can, but I would visit during the summer when temperatures are higher. However, bike rentals are a year-round business in Hilton Head Island. There is a small lighthouse on the island, that you might want to check out. It is located in a stunning harbor, with boats sailing in and out. You can spend a few hours here if you wish with a variety of restaurants and stores to explore.