Hilton Head Island - Daufuskie Island - Savannah

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. giradman

    giradman
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    Well, Susan & I just returned from a 5-night trip on the southern South Carolina coast on Hilton Head Island, about a 5-hour drive from home - now, I could have attached this to my 'Carolina Thread' but the island is on the Georgia border and near Savannah, another beautiful coastal historic city, so maybe this trip warrants a new thread?

    We've been to Hilton Head Island (HHI) numerous times and I ran three medical meetings there back in the 1980s and early '90s, thus a popular place to visit - HHI is one of the largest barrier islands along the Atlantic coast and has nearly 40,000 residents (of course, this greatly increases w/ the inflow of tourists in the popular summer months) - the history of the island is complex, so for those interested check HERE.

    The first two images below show the geographic location of the island on the southern coast of South Carolina near the Georgia border - the first a larger map has a red arrow for the turn-off from I-95 to HW 278 which transports you across the intracoastal waterway onto the island; the next map shows a larger image of the island - other arrows show upcoming posts, i.e. Bluffton (brown), Savannah (green), & Daufuskie Island (yellow) - we stayed @ the Omni Resort (blue arrow) on the ocean.

    The island is divided mainly into multiple 'Plantations', each a complex of a hotel or two plus condos and other residential areas, so numerous choices (as shown on the third image - we stayed on Palmetto Dunes - I use to run my radiology meeting from the Westin Hotel on the Port Royal Plantation). Probably one of the most recognizable images of this island is the Lighthouse in Harbour Town on the Sea Pines Plantation which occupies the most southern portion of the island and has the golf course that hosts an annual PGA golf event.

    The final two images show the Omni Resort where we stayed for 5 nights w/ a wonderful oceanfront suite on the 4th floor - the SC beaches are some of the most beautiful in the USA, smooth sand and extensive - Susan loves dipping her feet into the ocean (she grew up in New Jersey and the shore was second nature to her).

    Upcoming posts will be numerous and include some of those colored arrows on the first map and possibly some other areas that we've visited over the years but not on this trip - again, my main purpose for these travelogues is to help those who may be wanting to come to this wonderful part of the USA, although I hope others will enjoy the commentary - may take me a week or more to complete this thread but have patience, if you're interested - Dave :)

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    #1 giradman, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  2. scifan57

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    Thanks for another interesting travel story. Posts like this bring the world to people who can't travel there in person.
     
    #2 scifan57, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  3. giradman

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    Thanks Scifan.. - you are always one of the first to comment on these travelogues of mine - plenty to talk about on this one if I add our multiple other trips to the area - I'll see what comes up! Dave :)
     
  4. The OB

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    May I get in quickly too, as timing really does depend on the reader's location in the world;)
    Agree with scifan, another very interesting exposition of the lovely sights in your region of country. Your travelogues, accompanied with those photos, are great!
    Andrew


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  5. giradman

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    Hilton Head Island - Resorts, Outdoor Activities, & Great Natural Beauty

    For a start, just a little information on the island - introductory history quoted below from HERE - first pic below an aerial map of the entire island w/ several bridges (white arrows) crossing the intracoastal waterway for access via HW 278, shown on maps in the OP. The highway crosses the southern tip of the Pinckney Wildlife Refuge (PWR). Broad Creek nearly splits the island in half (and may w/ the next major hurricane!) and enters Calibogue Sound (pink arrow) - we took a speed boat from a marina on the creek to Daufuskie Island, which will be a topic of one or several future posts. The May River entrance is marked w/ the yellow arrow and leads to the small town of Bluffton, which will be the next post.

    There are numerous living accommodations available from luxury hotels, like the Omni where we stayed this time, but just another one shown below is the Westin Resort in the Port Royal Plantation toward the northern Atlantic side of the island - that's where I held three radiology meetings back in the '80s & early '90s. Of course, there are many private homes and other rental options, such as condos of various sizes. Outdoor activities are abundant and include cycling, walking (plenty of paved paths for both), numerous golf courses, tennis, nature and water excursions - plenty of boat rides, canoeing, kayaking in the marsh areas - wildlife is abundant and bird watching is a favorite. As in my travelogue on Kiawah Island near Charleston, many alligators live there and may greet you at the front door, as in the pic below - YIKES! (that was a 12 footer).

    The Coastal Discovery Museum is a fun place to visit - a small museum w/ panel exhibits of the island's history and the types of flora & fauna to be found, including nearly a half dozen poisonous snakes! Buildings remain from the previous community there along w/ boardwalks into the salt marshes (as shown below) - the museum sponsors daily events - we did the walk around the grounds w/ a guide who told us more of the history of the island and the property, plus a LOT of information on the plants and animals; on other days, trips are available to several of the wildlife refuges and to Port Royal near Beaufort, both beautiful and historically interesting visits.

    Finally, as mentioned for you golfers, there are an abundant number of choices in the area, including the famous Harbour Town Golf Links (iconic 18th hole pictured below w/ the lighthouse in the background); site of the annual PGA Heritage golf tournament which was ending on our arrival - winner in a playoff was Jim Furyk - Dave :)

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  6. suenc

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    I was surprised at the variety of things to do, as previously we mostly hung around the hotels when Dave had meetings. I was also surprised at how large the island was--a lot of shopping centers on the main road, but tropical/scenic once you go inside the plantation complexes. Food was good, most of it pretty fresh;
    As usual we shared a few dozen oysters, the last round direct from the local May River.
     
  7. scifan57

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    I wouldn't want to run into that alligator at my front door. Are they common in that area?
     
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  8. giradman

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    Alligators extend into southern North Carolina, our state - I've seen them in the Wilmington area - on Kiawah Island (which I've written about in another travelogue) near Charleston, there are an estimated 600-700 alligators - we always see several when visiting that island.

    Hilton Head Island is much larger that Kiawah and ponds, lagoons, waterways are abundant - there are an estimated 2000-4000 alligators on Hilton Head (Source - an interesting read!). Now, we did not see a gator on our recent trip to the island, but I wasn't looking hard! ;)

    Just did a little more searching on the web for some more Hilton Head gator pics - found the 4 below - first one of a gator enjoying a blue crab and last one of a captured alligator who apparently showed up at a couple's front door on the island, and scarred the lady of the house when she went to check for mail! Dave :)

    P.S. in 1984, I held our first summer radiology meeting on Kiawah Island and was playing a round of golf w/ my father-in-law; on one hole, I sliced my ball near the bank of a lagoon and as I was approaching, an alligator emerged for some sun and rested near my golf ball - WELL, I just dropped a new one on the other side of the fairway (did not take a penalty stroke - ;)).
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    #8 giradman, Apr 25, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
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  9. scifan57

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    I guess alligators are considered a normal hazard on the golf course at Hilton Head. They've sure got that last one tied up good.
     
  10. giradman

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    Well, Susan chimed in about the food which is quite good and a LOT of restaurant choices - for our first night we ate @ Ela's Grille in the Shelter Cove marina on Broad Creek (see previous post & maps) - we started w/ oysters on the half shell (two different kinds from New England & Virginia) - I had the grilled swordfish w/ wild rice and small berry salad (click on the links for menus).

    For our second night, we ate at Alexander's Seafood Restaurant on the Palmetto Dunes property (a few minutes from our hotel) - again, started w/ Blue Point oysters on the half shell and we both had the stuffed shrimp (shrimp stuffed with scallops and jumbo lump crab, served with garlic parmesan rice and vegetable du jour, finished with a lobster cream sauce) which were delicious; the sides were somewhat bland - this is highly regarded from the reviews but was probably our least favorite restaurant.

    Third night, we went to Harbour Town on the Sea Pines Plantation (place w/ the golf course & lighthouse) and ate at the Topside Waterfront Restaurant on the second floor next to the lighthouse w/ spectacular view of the 18th hole, Calibogue Sound, and the marina area - I had the fresh grilled redfish w/ a citrus butter sauce and a choice of sides - picked garlic sautéed spinach & quinoa blend pilaf - one of the BEST fishes that I've had in months! Unfortunately, they were out of oysters, so we split the fried calamari & the gumbo - both superb - I would highly recommend this place for the location, views, ambience, and the superb food! P.S. if you're not staying @ Sea Pines, then a $6 entrance fee.

    Fourth night, we did a tour of Daufuskie Island which left from Shelter Cove (more on that later) - on return we were right @ Ela's Grille, so went back for more! Shared another dozen oysters on the half shell, two types again from New England & Virginia (but different locations). I had the blackened yellowfin tuna rare in the preparation shown below - this was just a delicious dish - had wine w/ all of these dinners, and like a Pinot Noir w/ tuna (choose a Russian River one from CA).

    Last night on returning from a day trip to Savannah, we stopped in Bluffton (both future posts) and dined at the restaurant which is operated by the family of the Bluffton Oyster Company - we shared a dozen May River oysters, just harvested a few blocks away - LOVE it! I had the blackened snapper w/ a side salad and some nicely flavored red mash potatoes and a few glasses of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand - quite informal place w/ great service - will return in the future!

    My main purpose in this post is for those who may be vacationing in the area - all of these are excellent restaurants - check the links and 'pick & choose' - Dave :)
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    #10 giradman, Apr 25, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015

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