Hilton Head Island or simply Hilton Head is a Lowcountry resort town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, South Carolina, USA. It is 20 miles (32 km) north of Savannah, Georgia and 95 miles (153 km) south of Charleston. The island gets its name from Captain William Hilton. In 1663, Captain Hilton identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which he named "Hilton's Head" after himself. The island features 12 miles (19 km) of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2004, an estimated 2.25 million visitors pumped more than $1.5 billion into the local economy.
The island has a rich history that started with seasonal occupation by native Americans thousands of years ago, and continued with European exploration and the Sea Island Cotton trade. It became an important base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports during the Civil War. Once the island fell to Union troops, hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head, which is still home to many 'native islanders', many of whom are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah (or Geechee) who have managed to hold onto much of their ethnic and cultural identity.
Coastal Discovery Museum:
The Coastal Discovery Museum, located at 70 Honey Horn Drive, offers a variety of programs, activities, and indoor and outdoor exhibits year-round to over 125,000 visitors. The Discovery House has permanent exhibitions about the natural history and cultural heritage of the Lowcountry, a gift store, Kids' Zone and a temporary gallery space. The Museum offers many tours of its 68 acre property that includes salt marsh Boardwalks, trails, a native butterfly habitat and various gardens. The Coastal Discovery Museum is open Monday — Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The Hilton Head Island area is home to a vast array of wildlife, including alligators, deer, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, manatee, hundreds of species of birds, and dolphins. The Coastal Discovery Museum, in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, patrols the beaches from May through October as part of the Sea Turtle Protection Project. The purpose of the project is to inventory and monitor nesting locations, and if necessary, move them to more suitable locations.
During the summer months, the museum sponsors the Turtle Talk & Walk, which is a special tour designed to educate the public about this endangered species. To protect Loggerhead Sea Turtles, a town ordinance stipulates that artificial lighting must be shielded so that it cannot be seen from the beach, or it must be turned off by 10:00 p.m. from May 1 to October 31 each year. The waters around Hilton Head Island are one of the few places on Earth where dolphins routinely use a technique called "strand feeding" whereby schools of fish are herded up onto mud banks, and the dolphins lie on their side while they feed before sliding back down into the water.
Plankton support marine life including oysters, shrimp and other invertebrates, and bait-fish species including menhaden and mullet, which in turn support larger fish and mammal species that populate the local waterways. Popular sport fish in the Hilton Head Island area include the red drum (or spot tail bass), spotted sea trout, sheepshead, cobia, tarpon and various shark species.
- Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center (Pre K — K)
- Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts (Grades 1-5)
- Hilton Head Island International Baccalaureate Elementary School (Grades 1-5)
- Hilton Head Island Middle School
- Hilton Head Island High School
- Hilton Head Preparatory School
- Hilton Head Christian Academy
- St. Francis Catholic School
- Heritage Academy
- Sea Pines Montessori Academy
- Alder Lane Beach Access
- Barker Field
- Burkes Beach Access
- Broad Creek Boat Ramp
- Chaplin Community Park
- Coligny Beach Park
- Compass Rose Park
- Cordillo Tennis Courts
- Crossings Park & Bristol Sports Arena
- Driessen Beach Park
- Fish Haul Creek Park
- Folly Field Beach Park
- Green Shell Park
- Hilton Head Park (Old Schoolhouse Park* Island Recreation Center
- Islanders Beach Park
- Jarvis Creek Park
- Marshland Road Boat Landing
- Old House Creek Dock
- Shelter Cove Community Park
- Xeriscape Garden