Background: 2 adults/1 teen. Grew up at Jersey shore...now live in N.C. Been traveling to beaches/shore vacation entire life up/down east coast/Caribbean/Bermuda. VERY easy to please family. Not picky/particular about food/lodging etc....main goal for beach vacation is to relax/sit on the beach/swim in the ocean. We are not big sightseers when on a beach-trip.
Travel dates--July 31-Aug. 6
Where we stayed: 1 BR Oceanfront Condo. Seaside Villas. South Forest Beach area.
Weather: Perfect. But HOT. No seabreeze. No rain at all except late one night.
What we liked: The Savannah-like feel was different with all of the moss-trees/pines , however, it was also one of our dislikes(see below).
It was not as crowded as some of the other, more popular, beach destinations such as Myrtle Beach, Wrightsville Beach or VIrginia Beach, however it was more crowded than we expected overall as we heard for years that HIlton Head was MUCH more low-key than other shore-towns.
IT seemed to have less small children there than in Myrtle Beach/Ocean City MD etc., which was a draw for us since we have a teenager...but there were still many small children there.
There seemed to be a more upscale-feel(again, compared to Myrtle Beach or Daytona Beach or part of the Jersey shore like Wildwood or Atlantic City) to it/less commercialized as there are no amusements/boardwalk etc.
Finding sand-dollars was very cool We've never seen any before and finding them on our evening walks on the beach was a highlight. We bleached them when we got home.
Dining--We only ate out a few times since our condo was oceanfront and we had a kitchen, but we never had to wait for a table at restuarants and the places seemed half-empty.....however we tended to go during off hours(after 7:30 p.m. or late afternoon for lunch) to avoid families with small kids.
What we disliked: - Number one was the jellyfish. Being SO HOT(100+ every day) you had to stay in the water and I was stung by a man-o-war(Very painful) the first day, which discouraged us from entering the water until the last day when the current must have changed and there seemed to be less stings. I've never been to a beach where there were so many jellyfish stings...and I grew up at the beach in Jersey. WHat was bad was there was NO WARNING whatsoever if you didnt know to ask the lifeguard(which we didnt upon arrival). There are NO jellyfish at all laying on the beach as a warning. Nobody was entering the water all week until Friday. We had to stick to the small pool at our condo(along with everyone else).
2-The non-beachlike feel. WHen I go to the beach, I want to feel like I am at the beach and all of the pines/moss trees sort of took away from that "feel". I know for some that is the draw(my husband actually likd it), but for me, I like a more "beachy" feel when on a beach vacation. It was also hard to find things(stores when driving, restaurants etc.) because of all of the trees blocking the view.
3-The CROWDS on the beach at night. I've never been to a beach-town where it was SO crowded on the beach at 9:00 at night. We love to go for quiet, (romantic when its just me and my husband) strolls on the beach in the evening, but even at 9:00 at night the beach was crawling with people(at least it was each night in the South Forest Beach area where we stayed).
4-HARBORTOWN--Yes, it was only $5.00 to enter the community but we felt ripped off. We just found it very strange to have to pay to enter a neighborhood. But our daughter wanted to see the lighthouse we had talked about all week long, so we paid the fee to enter the community(only 1 way in/out). You also had to pay to climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse($3.50 each).
There was also a toll-both upon entering/leaving the island that visitors should be aware of.
5-The OUTLETS ---no deals there. Same prices as regular stores(but that is true at all outlets).
6- BIKES---EVERYONE(except us it seemed) rode a bike(we walked most places). From age 3 to 83. On the beach, in the street, on the sidewalks etc. It seemed we were dodging bike riders everywhere we went...we even saw a few mishaps with people get run over by bike riders.
Our condo at Seaside VIllas was sufficient...nothing fancy and the view was OK. It was moreso "oceanview" than oceanfront as the complex sat on an angle...so most of our view was of the parking lot and the other condos..with a sliver of ocean-view through the trees. But it met our needs, and was larger than a hotel room would have been..plus it had a small kitchen so we could eat most meals in the condo, which is what we prefer. And we did not have to cross any strees to get to the beach so it was good for coming/going to the beach each day.
The 2 small pools at the complex got crowded because of the jellyfish issue. But the villa was convenient to Coligney Circle which is a large plaza with shops/dining/shopping etc...within walking(or biking) distance.
Overall, we had a nice time...but we probably won't go back because of the above issues. We will probably try the Outer Banks next year(or maybe this fall for a long weekend) as we are drawn to more non-commmericialized beach destinations now that our daughter is older and does not care about amusements/mini-golf etc. anymore.
I hope this review was not to negative as that was not my intention...I just like to give honest reviews as I rely on other people's honest reviews prior to traveling.