By Becca Edwards, Contributor
It’s appropriate that Hilton Head Island is shaped like a foot—with Sea Pines Plantation as the toe, Palmetto Dunes/Shelter Cove as the arch, Port Royal as the heel, and Hilton Head Plantation and Windmill Harbor as the ankle—because it hosts some of the best biking and pedestrian paths in the Lowcountry.
Quick Facts About Hilton Head’s Exercise Routes:
- We provide over 60 miles of public pathways and nature trails for cycling and walking.
- We offer 12 miles of wide, hard-packed beaches with several public access areas. (Note: The tide levels change as much as six to eight feet every six hours.)
- We are recognized as one of the top 25 bicycle-friendly communities in the United States and one of 21 to achieve the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCsm) award from the League of American Bicyclists.
- Our Jarvis Creek Park is free and open to the public. Its fitness trail includes outdoor cross-training equipment consisting of a sit-up bench, a pull-up bar, parallel bars, and push-up bars—just to name a few get-fit-while-breathing-in-fresh-air opportunities.
Here are the top five ways to lace up and get down with exercising in Hilton Head:
#1 Calling all bird watchers and nature enthusiasts, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is your Mecca. From the parking lot, head out toward Ibis Pond, then continue to Starr Pond and finally Shell Point before looping back. Along this gorgeous nearly five mile walk, you will see painting bunting, eagles, egrets, wood ibis, alligators, and evidence of bobcats, coyotes and deer—just to name a few.
#2 History buffs should stroll through Fish Haul Park and Mitchelville Beach Park. (Check out Gullah Heritage Tours, to plan a guided excursion.) Both areas are supersaturated with a rich history and the Gullah tradition and—for those of you who like to get off the beaten path—both are fairly quiet with only the sounds of wildlife and the whispers of those long but not forgotten wafting through the trees.
#3 If you want to make a full day out of enjoying our Island, rent bikes from a rental company like Bubba’s Bikes, and start with breakfast at the Harbour Town Bakery and Cafe in Sea Pines Planation. Then ride down to South Beach via the bike path. Stop for a quick dip and water break before heading via bike path to the Sea Pines Beach Club where you can reward yourself with a nice lunch on the beach before heading back to Harbor Town.
#4 Fitness buffs, venture to Jarvis Creek Park and design your own high intensity interval training, or HIIT, program. Alternate between doing sprints along the well-maintained path and doing reps at one of the fitness stations. I can speak from experience, you will absolutely love this workout.
#5 For those of you who want a little romance, pack a picnic, your beverage of choice, and a small blanket and head out from Coligny Beach an hour before sunset. Just before the sun sets over the water, find a spot to rest and reflect. Upon returning to your car, you can walk or drive to one of the many nearby restaurants like Bomboras Grille for a dessert drink (try the chocolate martini) or Vine for a sweet treat.
Whichever path, beach, or trail you trek, you are sure to step into syncopation with all that the Lowcountry has to offer. From old oaks draped in Spanish moss, to our year-round temperate weather, Hilton Head is your destination for outdoor exercise.