What Travel Writers Say


Healthy Hilton Head

© By Mike Keenan

"If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day, I'd make a wish and here's what I'd say - nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning!"


I suggest that you obtain a prescription from your doctor directing you to vacation on Hilton Head Beach, South Carolina. There are good reasons. For example, the views: a middle-aged man and woman biking with golf putters inside their carriages, a fellow with two tennis rackets strapped to his back, people with muscular legs propelling rental bikes with fat tires, sun-worshippers in shorts, T-shirts, bathing suits and string bikinis, some bronze, most white, one male whose back is painted Larry Lobster red, the rays taking their toll on his lily-white flesh. (probably a Canadian) A pregnant lady blissfully packs sand into a child's plastic pail, creating sandcastles, unconsciously imprinting her unborn baby to impromptu treasures of the beach, joggers sporting earphones, groups of chatting strollers sporting bibs with numbers for an MS walkathon, a small child placing a plastic Captain Hook toy near the surging water, then prancing gleefully around it, spiral tire treads in the sand, waves tossing in gradually fading crescendos, splashing and foaming along the shore, attractive (expensive) homes opposite the water, sporting wooden porches to maximize panoramic vistas, formations of pelicans looming near a fishing boat, gulls crying, skittish sandpipers with long bills probing the rich sand and a radiant furnace above, gleaming its dazzling rays off of the beaming water. A fresh breeze emerges from the sparkling waves. This is surely an oasis to soothe both body and mind, awaken dormant muscle and creative synapses.
     An attentive elderly Pennsylvania couple notice me sitting and writing on a wooden bench anchored at Coligny Plaza opposite the public beach. "We're surprised how built up it is, yet how camouflaged the commercial areas are." Camouflage is an appropriate descriptor. Unlike typical garish tourist streetscapes, commerce is tastefully set back with stringent zoning requirements in Hilton Head. The vibrant palmetto trees, shrubs and rich foliage make it difficult to view what lays behind manicured grass and road, with small, discerning signs the only outward signal of business interests lurking behind the mass of greenery. No neon, no garish billboards, no tackiness permitted. This is the genteel South. No pressure, hucksterism, glaring sound boxes or aggressive pitchmen enticing you to spend money. I'm surprised cell phones are not prohibited on the beach. I encounter a gentleman (from the north) smoking a cheap cigar, an anachronism here, like the bizarre lady who twirls a hula hoop on the Letterman Show.


     This is the land of shorts, sun screen, caps, hats, gated communities with controlled access and guards, dated passes carefully placed on car windshields. There is public access to the beach at three areas. At Coligny Circle, a roundabout forces me to pay close attention to yield signs. Here, there is a "Village" which includes shops that sell T-shirts and skimpy swimming attire as well as my favourite restaurant, Hinchey's, where we experience "Happy Hour" - as if we need the token declaration to make life more festive. There are many fine restaurants and expensive cars - Jaguars, Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus and assorted SUVs.
     A low-slung convoy of three beagles pass by on the beach, bellies hugging the ground; on the sand, imprints of man, dog, birds - nature's intermittent blackboard, erased twice daily by compulsive tides pulled back and forth to celebrate the moon. I watch a great blue heron scoop a fish in two attempts - not a bad batting average in any league. This is an idyllic island not to be voted off.
     Nomadic types, my spouse and I have vacationed here often, this time for a blissful week. We agree with Al Jolson's musical sentiments.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

If you go
Hilton Head Island - Bluffton Chamber of Commerce: www.hiltonheadisland.org/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilton_Head,_South_Carolina
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Hilton_Head_Island_(South_Carolina)

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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