Add joggers and bike riders ‒ mainly seniors traversing the asphalt trails that wind delicately beside well-groomed fairways, the adjacent golf course studded with
palmetto trees and hardy
live oaks wearing billowing whitish
Spanish moss garlands ‒ and you get a better picture.
Yesterday at the Black Marlin Bayside Grill at Palmetto Bay Marina, known for its large selection of fresh-caught fish, seafood and delicious hand-cut steaks in a relaxing Key West atmosphere, a duffer relates a story that went viral.
A golfer is putting out on a green, when suddenly an agile 'gator lunges from the nearby pond, snags a leg in its jaws and drags his victim waist deep into the water. Shocked at first, the man repeatedly hits the animal with his putter. All to no avail until he pounds it's eyes, and he is grudgingly released. There's a golf course that he will never forget. "Gators usually leave you alone," says my bar friend, "but don't go into the brush to find a wayward drive. There's poisonous snakes in there."
My wife and I have rented a well-stocked and quite comfortable condo in Tennis Master, an area located in Shipyards, where the worst thing that can happen is to get hit by an errant ball.
Hilton Head is as a barrier island, second in size only to Manhattan. To the North sits the enchanting Beaufort on Port Royal Island. Not so enchanting at the southern tip is Parris Island where they train U.S. Marines. To the East is Bluffton, another quick day-trip and south is Daufuskie Island, Tybee Island and finally Savannah, the latter a wonderful day-trip.
Hilton Head is known for its green and pristine landscape, an oasis for golfers and tennis players alike. The well-planned neighborhood developments or plantations provide residents and snowbird renters like us with well-maintained and often gated communities, each designed with southern charm. A gated automobile pass costs $6.00.
Indigo Run, the youngest and final private residential golf community, boasts 1,712 acres at the island’s north end. It offers two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses ‒ the Golden Bear and the Golf Club.
Palmetto Dunes, mid-island on 1,800 well-preserved acres, contains 1,012 homes and 1,470 villas, and three miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, 11 miles of winding lagoons, and one of the largest tennis centers on the island with 25 courts. Its three public, 28-hole golf courses were designed by PGA favorites George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones, and Arthur Hills.
The Story Of Hilton Head South Carolina
Main Street Village, Hilton Head Island
In 1956, Charles Fraser developed Sea Pines into the first private plantation community on the island. One of the largest residential and resort plantations, it spans 5,200 acres with 3,839 homes and 2,042 villas. Four championship golf courses include the
Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the PGA Tour’s annual RBC Heritage tournament.
Here also is the famous Harbour Town Marina and its landmark red-and-white-striped lighthouse built in 1969 to aid boats traveling on the Calibogue Sound. The marina hosts awe-inspiring yachts, but was closed on our visit due to Hurricane Mathew's damage. The
"Stars and Stripes" is normally docked here. A few years back, I enjoyed a tourist ride on Dennis Connor's entry in the famed America's Cup race for nautical millionaires.
Sea Pines maintains a lush, 605-acre forest preserve, access to five miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, over 100 tennis courts, two security gates and numerous swimming pools. It is also the location of the South Beach Racquet Club, Sea Pines Racquet Club, Lawton Stables equestrian center, and restaurants and outdoor activities held at South Beach Marina Village.
Wexford Plantation, an superb residential community of 450 homes, features immaculately manicured landscaping, a championship golf course, a $5.2 million clubhouse, and a harbor with one of only four lock systems on the east coast. The lock system, controlled by a 24-hour, on-duty harbormaster, opens to Broad Creek, providing access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean.
Four full-time golf professionals are on hand at the plantation’s world-famous golf course, designed by architect Willard Byrd. Two full-time tennis professionals teach on the plantation’s six Hard-Tru courts, four of which are lighted. The most distinguishing characteristic about Wexford Plantation is its luxurious homes, many with deepwater boat docks.
Long Cove Club plantation is situated between Yacht Cove and Wexford Plantation toward the island’s south end. Within Long Cove are 569 homes. Golf Digest magazine rated Long Cove Club’s private golf course, designed by Pete Dye, the number one course in South Carolina for 10 consecutive years. A membership is included with ownership here. In the 1980s, the plantation’s developers chose to carefully preserve the area’s live oaks, magnolia and palmetto palm trees, which create a serene, wooded environment in which its signature golf course is nestled. A tennis center was opened in 2002. Residents enjoy deepwater access to Broad Creek from the community’s boat docks.
One of Hilton Head’s largest and most age-diverse residential neighborhoods is Hilton Head Plantation. Spread over 4,000 acres between the Intracoastal Waterway and Port Royal Sound, the Plantation holds 4,000 homes and 500 villas. It is home to the Country Club of Hilton Head’s semi-private 18-hole golf course designed by Rees Jones. Jones also designed the plantation’s award-winning Oyster Reef Golf Course and Bear Creek Golf Course. The plantation has a fourth, private course created by Gary Player and Ron Kirby called Dolphin Head.
Within the plantation, there is access to two miles of beach, a community recreation center, a shared gardening area, numerous community swimming pools, and tennis courts, Skull Creek marina, and the Old Fort Pub restaurant. Two nature conservancies possess beautiful, lengthy nature trails and boardwalks through woods and marsh. An extensive leisure path system for walking, jogging or biking winds through this beautiful community.
The Black Marlin and other popular restaurants offer happy hours and early bird dinners, frequented by seniors who live or rent here. Renters stay 1-3 months, a few longer. We occupy a condo owned by a colonel and a major in the U.S. army. We have befriended couples from Niagara on the Lake, St. Catharines, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor. Canadians love it here, but the number has dropped because of our declining loony. We have a deck and screened in lanai, multiple TV's, the Internet and a complete set of kitchen utensils, just like home. Garbage is collected at your door. Workers daily blow away any debris from the trees that litters your deck. One can get used to this life.
The beaches are the main attraction for us. There is public access at three areas. Coligny is our favourite with washrooms and change areas. At low tide the beaches are immense and make for easy walking, bicycling or jogging. We watch
dolphins and ships heading south to Savannah. People love to walk their dogs, mainly Labs and retrievers but also smaller breeds such as saucy Chihuahuas, spunky Dachshunds and a few charming Pugs.
We vacation here often, this time for three blissful weeks. And on my daily walks, I agree fully with Al Jolson's memorable musical sentiments ‒ "Nothing could be finer than to be in
Carolina in the morning."
Mike Keenan is a travel columnist for Troy Media. He produces a travel podcast -
http://whattravelwriterssay.libsyn.com/ accessible on iTunes and Stitcher Radio and has been published in every major newspaper across Canada including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun. He has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City, Seniors Review and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. With hundreds of reviews, photos and helpful votes, he has earned Trip Advisor's "Top Contributor Badge" and is considered an "Expert" in both Hotels and Restaurant reviews. Mike posts photos to Pinterest where he has a following of five thousand viewers.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, sometimes referred to as simply Hilton Head, is a Lowcountry resort town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. It is 20 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles southwest of Charleston. The island is named after Captain William Hilton, who in 1663 identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which he named Hilton's Head after himself. The island features 12 miles 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 year-round population was 37,099 at the 2010 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 150,000. Over the past decade, the island's population growth rate was 32 percent. Hilton Head Island is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 207,413 in 2015.
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 on to much of their ethnic and cultural identity.
The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality in 1983 and is well known for its eco-friendly development. The town's Natural Resources Division enforces the Land Management Ordinance which minimizes the impact of development and governs the style of buildings and how they are situated amongst existing trees. As a result, Hilton Head Island enjoys an unusual amount of tree cover relative to the amount of development. Approximately 70 percent of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities. However, the town maintains several public beach access points, including one for the exclusive use of town residents, who have approved several multimillion-dollar land-buying bond referendums to control commercial growth.
Hilton Head Island offers an unusual number of cultural opportunities for a community its size, including Broadway-quality plays at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the 120-member full chorus of the Hilton Head Choral Society, the highly rated Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the largest annual outdoor, tented wine tasting event on the east coast, and several other annual community festivals. It also hosts the Heritage Golf Classic, a PGA Tour tournament played on the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Resort.
The Hilton Head Island area is home to a vast array of wildlife, including alligators, deer, loggerhead sea turtles, manatees, 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.
The saltmarsh estuaries of Hilton Head Island are the feeding grounds, breeding grounds, and nurseries for many saltwater species of game fish, sport fish, and marine mammals. The dense plankton population gives the coastal water its murky brown-green coloration.
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.