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Hilton Head Island has more than just great golf courses

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Hilton Head Island
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Hilton Head's watery setting offers plenty of options for recreation off the golf course. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

They both boast a hotbed of golf on the coast of South Carolina. But that's about where the similarities stop. While Myrtle Beach is a hotbed of bars, strip clubs and cheap motels, Hilton Head is significantly more conservative. But that doesn't mean visitors are holing up at 8 p.m. either. From beaches to entertainment and shopping, Hilton Head has plenty to do off the golf course.

The oldest shopping center on the island, Coligny Plaza, is still vibrant, thanks to an emerging nightlife that's among the best — comparatively speaking — in Hilton Head. Hot spots include Steamer's Raw Bar, the Frosty Frog Café and Stu's Surfside. Live music is available nightly.

Hilton Head's watery setting makes fishing an obvious choice for leisure, and there are a variety of ways to cast your line on the island.

"You can go it alone or try charters, ranging from the 58-foot Viking, docked at Harbor Town, or smaller craft from the Whipple Charter Boat Co., which specializes in bottom fishing for grouper, snapper, red drum, sheepshead, flounder and black sea bass," writes TravelGolf.com's Tim McDonald. "Be advised, a full day of charter-boat fishing can cost close to $1,000. Saltwater fishing requires a license if you're over 16 and fishing from a boat."

The Sea Pines Resort brings in a handful of national acts each year. This August, headliners include Kenny Rogers, Hootie and the Blowfish and Don Maclean of Blood Sweat and Tears with the Hilton Head Symphony.

Waterfun Park: Stop by while you still can. The island's only water park has drawn up plans to replace the 5.6-acre park with condos. Plans are still in their infancy, but the end may be near for one of the island's favorite summer family venues.

Shelter Cove is another hotspot for family fun and located across from Palmetto Dunes. Every Tuesday during the summer a fireworks display explodes over the harbor and live music is played in the amphitheatre. A decent offering of restaurants, bars and shops are also on hand.

For nature or history buffs, the Coastal Discovery Museum explores Hilton Head's environs, past and present. Historical tours feature vintage houses and marine study cruises. There are beach tours, as well as educational programs. The Wildflower and Butterfly Garden features a variety of flora that butterflies feast on.

Nature and wildlife is everywhere on the island, and one of the best places to check it all out is at one of the island's many nature preserves. For flora and fauna, go to the Newhall Audubon Nature Preserve. Wildlife is best on display at Pickney Island and the last piece of undisturbed land on the island at Sea Pines Forest Preserves.

Hilton Head is also known in tennis as a hot destination, featuring more than 300 courts including grass and clay surfaces. It's also a cyclist's haven, with miles of paved paths including 12 miles along the islands beaches. Main Trail on Pickney Island is an area favorite, featuring 3.5 miles of trails bordered by water and is surrounded by dolphins and alligators.

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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