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Definitive Ranking of Hilton Head Beaches

By Joana Harrison,  Contributor

While it may seem an impossible task to pick a favorite Hilton Head Island beach, we so bravely stepped up to take the challenge. We considered parking, public bathrooms, sand showers, wheelchair accessibility, lifeguards, whether or not the beach is kid-friendly, and extra local amenities like playgrounds, picnic tables, restaurants and shops. Of course there are winners, but there are really no losers here as each beach has a little something for everyone. So get your swimsuits and flip-flops on, and come visit some of these gorgeous beaches!

#1 – Coligny Beach Park

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The number one spot goes to the nationally recognized Coligny Beach Park, a favorite of both tourists and locals alike. Located on the south end of the island, amidst dozens of shops, restaurants and hotels, Coligny Beach has certainly earned its stripes as the most popular beach on Hilton Head Island! It’s impossible to find yourself bored at Coligny Beach Park, with a long stretch of sandy beach, bike rentals, volleyball nets, beach umbrellas, the Tiki Hut beach bar, and the shops and restaurants in Coligny Plaza. USA Today named Coligny Beach one of the East Coast’s Top 10 Beaches in 2016!

Why We Love It: Coligny Beach is the best “one-stop-shop.” It has all the workings for an all-inclusive day of beach fun. Head out early to get a good parking spot, and settle in until sunset.

Kid-Friendly

Wheelchair Accessible

Free Parking

Public Bathrooms

Sand Showers

Seasonal Lifeguards

Wi-Fi

Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 9:00pm

Winter Hours, Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 6:00pm

Location: End of Pope Avenue, off of Coligny Circle

#2 – Driessen Beach

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Hilton Head Island’s hidden gem! Often heralded as the #1 favorite for locals, Driessen is a somewhat secluded little paradise. The shoreline is particularly wide in this area, making it an expansive beach that doesn’t feel crowded. We call it the “hidden gem,” because the entry boardwalk is in a thick wooded area, so you almost feel like you’re walking through a forest to get to the water. This wide beach makes for some of the best sunrises, sunsets and photography opportunities – so it’s worth considering this spot for a family portrait.

Beach-Day Tip – If you’re bringing kids, coolers, chairs, etc., consider bringing a wagon, as the walkway down to the water is quite long!

Kid-Friendly

Wheelchair Accessible

Meter Parking

Public Bathrooms

Sand Showers

Grill

Seasonal Lifeguards

Picnic

Playground

Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 9:00pm

Winter Hours, Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 6:00pm

Location: End of Pope Avenue, off of Coligny Circle

#3 – Islander’s

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Perhaps the most beautiful of Hilton Head Island’s beaches, Islander’s is a serene oasis, and a daily spot for locals. If you’re not looking for shopping or live music, and you just want a simple and fantastic day at the beach, Islander’s is your spot. It’s a bit quieter than Coligny, but still has a playground and shady picnic table area. Islander’s is perhaps the most kid-friendly beach for swimming, as Coastal Living noted that it has a “gentle underwater slope,” making it a bit comfortable to swim with ease. 

Transportation Tip – The Islander’s parking area is permit only for those who live on or own property on HHI – but there are convenient bike paths leading up to the entrance, and if a quieter day is what you’re looking for – it is worth the ride!

Kid-Friendly

Wheelchair Accessible

Public Bathrooms

Sand Showers

Grill

Seasonal Lifeguards

Picnic

Playground

Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 9:00pm

Winter Hours, Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 6:00pm

Location: 94 Folly Field Fold off of William Hilton Parkway

#4 – Folly Field Beach

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Folly Field has long been a laid back and quieter spot, however in recent years it has grown in popularity, making for some slightly bigger crowds during the summer. So this a great beach for families that want a lively day at the beach with other kids running around for their kids to play with. Lots of kites in the sky and umbrellas on the shore! Be aware of the long walkway if you’re bringing lots of chairs and bags! Also be aware of the hot, hot sand… you are not going to want to walk on the dunes sand with bare feet!

Best For: A sunset dinner. Perhaps you’ve had a lazy day inside, escaping the hot sun, but you still want to hit the beach at least once. Wait until the crowds have died down, pack up a cooler with some sandwiches, bring some towels, and enjoy the sunset with the family.

Kid-Friendly

Wheelchair Accessible

Public Bathrooms

Sand Showers

Meter Parking

Seasonal Lifeguards

Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 9:00pm

Winter Hours, Monday – Sunday 6:00am to 6:00pm

Location: 55 Starfish Drive off of William Hilton Parkway and Folly Field Road

#5 – Burke’s Beach

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And the most low-key beach award goes to… Burke’s! There are beach days meant for volleyball, jimmy buffet radio, and Frisbees flying all over the place, and there are beach days meant for a good summer book and a peaceful nap. Burke’s beach is your mecca for the latter. While there may be nothing extraordinary about Burke’s Beach (giving it it’s #5 spot), it is a great spot to go in order to escape from the busy vacation clatter.

Downside: No lifeguards! Swim at your own risk.

Local Insight: Best beach for skim boarding! The locals claim Burke’s Beach is a hotspot for skim boarding, as the waves break against the flat and slope of the shoreline in the perfect way for a smooth ride.

Sand Showers

Metered Parking

Hours: Not monitored

Location: End of Burkes Beach Road, off of William Hilton Parkway

Honorable Mentions:

We discussed the most beloved of Hilton Head Beaches, but there are a few other public beaches on Hilton Head that are A-Okay in our book! If you happen to be in the area, check these places out!

Mitchelville Beach Park

Alder Lane Beach

Fish Haul Park

Temporarily Closed for Hurricane Matthew:

Chaplin Community Park

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