Indulge in the well-preserved, natural beauty of Hilton Head Island’s breath-taking ecosystem because a friendly smile is contagious, especially when it comes from a dolphin! Whether you look up, down, right, or left, the circle of life surrounds Hilton Head Island with lush landscaping, carefree animals, and abundant sea-life. Set your watch to island time, breathe in the fresh outdoor air, and uncover nature’s finest!\

KayakIn the Water  

A scenic water excursion on a kayak, paddleboard, or boat lets you discover a habitat swimming with life! You don’t have to travel far off the coast of Hilton Head to see a loggerhead sea turtle, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, or even a huge manatee surface for a quick breath. Although a dolphin can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes, it fills its lungs with air every 2-3 minutes, providing plentiful opportunities to watch it dive and glide. The gentle manatees, also known as sea cows, are most common in the summer months near Shelter Cove.  

A naturalist boat guide or captain is recommended to navigate your voyage through the splendid water while you relax, ask questions, and capture photos. An incredible sting ray surfacing and flipping with a big splash is hard to catch on camera, but with a fishing rod, you can catch sea trout, cobia, tarpon, Spanish mackerel many others. Broad Creek is one of the locals’ favorite places to discover astounding wildlife in the creeks, salt marshes, and tidal rivers. Every journey in the extraordinary waterways of Hilton Head Island gives you a splash of the spectacular sea life flourishing under the surface and whetting your appetite for more exciting water exploration! 

Through the Air

Gracefully gliding along Hilton Head’s shoreline, the brown pelicans are fascinating, especially as they dive from 60 feet at speeds up to 40 mph to skillfully snag a fish from the ocean. The pleasant sea pipers and feisty laughing gulls are also enjoyable to watch as they bustle along the sun-kissed beach.  Heron

The lagoons, ponds, lakes, and salt marshes are an excellent place to discover snowy egrets, large blue herons, white ibis, osprey, and even bald eagles. The South Carolina state bird, the Carolina Wren, resides closer to home and abounds happily with cardinals, robins, and bluebirds. The island’s birds and their nesting areas are easily spotted in the 68 acres of salt marsh on Honey Horn’s boardwalks with spotting scopes. Educational tours for all ages are available from the Coastal Discovery Museum. Another ideal location bird watchers like to flock to is the Audubon Newhall Preserve off Palmetto Bay Road. Trails are open year-round for exploration, and guided walks are available in the spring and fall.

On the Land

Embark on an eco-tour uncovering the natural side of the coast that extends through the salt marshes and views the protected wetlands and inland waterways. Fish Haul Creek Park and Mitchellville Freedom Park on the island’s headland are loaded with natural beauty along the beach and marsh. Loggerhead sea turtle nests are abundant on the island’s sandy shore from May to October, and after dark you may even witness hatchlings quickly waddling towards the moonlit water. Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge offers 14 miles of undisturbed nature trails for walks or bike rides to engage in the outdoors and witness wildlife in their natural habitat. An additional conservation area is the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. This undeveloped land offers informative scenic walking trails, abundant wildlife, and a historical Indian shell ring.

 Hilton Head’s ecosystem offers a refreshing and fulfilling place with nature at the doorstep of the island’s natural paradise!

 Contributed by Janice Magnin

Posted by Christina Galbreath-Gonzalez on


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