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Probably won't go back--trip report

North Carolina
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Probably won't go back--trip report

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.

new york
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1. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

Than you for sharing your views. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, that is what makes this site work!

It is funny that some of your "Dislikes" are the exact reasons we love to come to HH?

We love the" low-country" feel and look. The moss draped trees and the marshlands are our favorites. It is what sets HHI apart from other destinations. They also have palm trees which make it feel tropical.

We also LOVE the opportunity to ride bikes on the island. In fact no other beach destination we have ever visited(and we travel quite a bit) affords you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery by bike, either on the beach or along the many miles of paths all over the island. This is one thing you really should have taken advantage of.

Nothing can be done about the jellyfish- it's their ocean... not ours! :-)

I agree with the crowds. It seems that HHI is getting more and more popular. We will be visiting the end of august and i am interested in how busy it will be. The last time we went was the middle of july and the beach at Coligny/SFB(which is a public beach) was jammed. However, up by Palmetto Dunes is was very quiet. This is something that you could have read about on this forum, esp if crowds were a concern. Although your previous post said it was mostly at night. I haven't experienced that.

I feel badly you won't return.

We just returned from Siesta Key and I tended to feel the same way- been there, done that, no need to repeat it. It wasn't my cup of tea. There are a few beach locations I love returning to in the US. HH, Cape May and our secret spot in Florida , Boca Grande, always seems to top our list.

North Carolina
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2. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

I agree--some people's likes are others dislikes.....for example the bikes....we ride bikes at home and and just didnt feel the need to rent them for the week..but I can see the draw for people who do it there.

You should be fine at the end of August with crowds since most of the kiddies here down south are back in school.

Funny you mentioned Cape May because that is the area I grew up in. :)

We REALLY have to like a place to return, since ,as you mentioned, there are just so many other places to try. Hilton Head just isnt one of the few places that we REALLY have liked enough to return to.

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3. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

I agree with traveluvr: the aspects of HHI that you disliked are those that I most like. I also live near the Jersey shore, but I never go to the beaches here because I really hate the vibe (along with having to pay for a beach pass). HHI is designed to "hide" stores, which I found annoying until I got used to it. I never found the beach to be crowded at night, but our condo is over at Burke's Beach and there are no stores/restaurants nearby. We went during the last week of August last year and it was not very crowded since schools were back in session down there. I love HHI, but I can see it is not for everyone.

Cleveland, Ohio
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4. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

We used to feel that we would never go back too. That was until we had a friend talk us into visiting HHI again by renting his condo at Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort. The HHB&T resort is truly oceanfront and the condos are available at a very reasonable price. It is located in much quieter area of HHI and my husband and I just loved the location last year. I loved the pools and he loved the ocean, which he said were not jellyfish infested.

We're actually going back to HHB&T at the end of August and can't wait. The condo we had last year was oceanview, but this year we've rented oceanfront. The resort has just about everything so you could actually never leave the resort if you choose to do that.

It is not the Taj Mahal, but it may just make us annual visitors to HHI.

Columbus, Ohio
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5. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

I didn't take your report as too negative. It was very interesting. I do think you would have a completely different experience in the fall. And I also agree that the Outer Banks sounds more your cup of tea. It has that "beachy" feel and is more laid back. I loved visiting the Outer Banks once but would choose HH above it for most of the reasons you listed. Goes to show there is really something for everyone :)

Charleston, South...
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for Charleston, South Carolina, Telluride
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6. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

Other places you might consider are the beaches near Charleston (Isle of Palms for example, maybe Wild Dunes Resort) or Edisto Island. Edisto is really rather remote and uncrowded.

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7. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

We love Hilton Head and try to come several times a year, but we always come in the off season. I don't think we would like the summer crowds. I think you really do need to ride bikes to experience the beauty of Hilton Head. That said I think everyone needs to find what they like and enjoy when they go on vacation.

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8. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

Thanks for your trip report. As everyone said above, we travel there because of your dislikes. Well, not the biking, at least for me, my husband will take the kids at least once (it's too bloody hot to ride all the time) to ride and when I walk I do find it annoying that my walk is never quiet or relaxing, I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to see if I'm in the path of a bike. I find traveling in early June is best...less crowds, less jellyfish (never a sting in June, many stings in August). The beaches in South Forest tend to be more crowded, we like to stay in Palmetto Dunes as the beaches are not too crowded, even less crowded in South Beach in Sea Pines and next to PD at the Hilton Head Resort.

Thanks for sharing and maybe think of HHI again, don't give up, it truly is a great vacation destination.

Hilton Head, South...
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9. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

I suggest you go to Nantucket next year (although, they do have bikes there also).

Bethpage NY
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10. Re: Probably won't go back--trip report

You really should look into Kiawah Island near Chrleston. Much less crowded then HHI and has a lot of the same feel but I think you find it more relaxing and nicer. Good luck

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