All of the beaches, from the ocean to the high tide water mark, on Hilton Head Island are public, but it’s the access to the beach that is private. However, there are plenty of places to park your car, or bike, and hit the beach, including all of the following locations. Each have their own parking available and there are designated swimming areas for Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field and Islander Beaches and during the beach season, there will be lifeguards stationed at those beaches.
Public Access to Hilton Head Island Beaches
Alder Lane! Adler Lane provides beach access just off of South Forest Beach Drive. Metered parking is available across the street for beach goers, so be sure to bring some quarters! If you are looking for a quieter beach going experience, Alder Lane Beach is usually un-crowded and who doesn’t love that?! The beach does offer handicap beach matting, outdoor showers, restrooms and seasonal lifeguards.
Burkes Beach! This beautiful stretch of Hilton Head coastline. Right down the road is right down the road from Chaplin Community Park, bringing you everything from basketball and tennis courts to a playground and even a fenced-in dog park! but there’s still a beautiful stretch of Hilton Head coastline waiting to be enjoyed.
Coligny Beach Park! At Coligny, you’ll find one of the island’s best beaches along with a plaza full of food and souvenirs, just across the street from the beach. So if you’re looking for a little more than the beach, Coligny is the place to go.
Driessen Beach Park! With a picnic table pavilion, two grills and a playground, Driessen Beach Park is the perfect place for families and friends. It’s one of the larger beach parks on the island with room for plenty to enjoy.
Fish Haul Beach Park! With one of the most natural beaches on the island, Fish Haul Beach Park is sure to please; be sure to keep your eyes open for hermit crabs, and who knows, while you’re looking you might find some deer tracks in the sand.
Folly Field Beach Park! Even without all the amenities of some of the other beach parks, Folly Field Beach is still one worth visiting, with clear waters and beautiful sand.
Islanders Beach Park! If you’re looking for a beach to relax at for the entire day, look no further. Islanders beach park is outfitted with all you need, including a picnic pavilion, grill, playground and restrooms, of course.
Mitchelville Beach Park! With one of the most natural beaches on the island, Mitchelville is sure to please; be sure to keep your eyes open for hermit crabs, and who knows, while you’re looking you might find some deer tracks in the sand.
Beach Rules and Regulations
Animals on the Beach
• Are not permitted – Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day.
• Must be on a leash: Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 1 through Thursday before Memorial Day.
• Must be on a leash: Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday after Labor Day through September 30.
• Must be on leash or under positive voice control at all other times.
• Persons in control of animals on the beach are required to remove and properly dispose of the animal’s excrement.
• Please take care of our beaches, Place litter in the trash receptacles provided.
Seasonal Rules from April – September
• Hilton Head Island’s official beach season is April 1st through September 30th of each year.
• For the added protection of sunbathers and swimmers, the following activities are prohibited in Designated Swimming Areas between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. April 1 through September 30:
• Fishing or surfcasting
• Surfboards, boogie boards, etc.
• Frisbees or other team sports involving a ball
• Games with metal components
Prohibited at the beach all year long
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department patrols the beaches and enforces all beach regulations. Violators of beach regulations are subject to fines up to $500 per each offense.
The following are PROHIBITED on all beaches:
• Alcoholic liquor, beer, wine
• Glass (bottles, containers, etc.)
• Indecent exposure (nudity)
• Disorderly conduct
• Disturbing the peace
• Unauthorized vehicles
• Fires and Fireworks
• Shark Fishing
• Removal, harming or harassment of any live beach fauna (sea turtles, sand dollars, conchs, starfish, etc.)
• Removal, alteration or damage to dunes, sea oats or other dune flora
• Operation, launching, or landing of unauthorized motorized watercraft
• Unauthorized commercial activity
• Sleeping on the beach between midnight and 6 a.m.
• Unauthorized wearing of lifeguard emblems, insignias, etc.
• Solicitation or distribution of handouts
• Kites not under manual control
• Stunt kites 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. April 1 through September 30
Personal Watercraft Rules
The Rules are contained in the South Carolina Personal Watercraft and Boating Safety Act of 1996.
• No personal Watercraft may be operated at night.
• All passengers on the craft must wear an approved flotation device.
• People under 16 who want to ride a watercraft of 15 horsepower or more without an adult must first pass a safety training course.
• The craft must be equipped to circle or shut off if the rider falls off.
• No vessel may exceed idle speed within 50 feet of a moored vessel or other fixed object or person, NOR WITHIN 100 YARDS OF THE ATLANTIC COAST.
• No one may jump a wake within 200 feet of the vessel creating it.
• Anyone younger than 12 in a boat must wear a flotation device.
• No boater may harass wildlife.
VISITORS BEWARE – FISHING IS NOT FREE!
In July of 2009, our legislature made a big change to our saltwater fishing regulations by requiring that all shore based fishermen, residents and tourists alike must buy a South Carolina saltwater fishing license. Up until then only boat fishermen were required to have a license. In a nutshell the new law reads, “This act requires all individuals (16 and over) to have a saltwater recreational fishing license when harvesting marine resources, including finfish, oysters, clams, shrimp and crab.”
If you are fishing on a licensed pier or with a licensed charter captain, you are covered under their permit. You don’t need a license if you are crabbing with 3 or less drop nets, fold up traps or hand lines. Fishermen need a license to crab with a crab trap or pot.
The license process is easy and cheap. An annual resident SC saltwater fishing license is just $10 (14 day license for a SC resident license is $5). A non-resident can purchase a 14 day saltwater fishing license for $11 ($105 for the year). Licenses can be purchased 24/7 by phone at 1-866-714-3611 or online at dnr.sc.gov. You can do it in the car on the way to your fishing spot or buy it at Walmart.
The minimum fine for not having a SC Saltwater Fishing License is $160 and each fisherman could be required to post a cash bond or go to jail. The maximum fine is more than $1,000. Saltwater fishing areas includes the beaches, all saltwater lagoons including those found in Palmetto Dunes and Sea Pines, public boat landings, and public and private docks and piers.
First Aid Tips
We hope you don’t have any problems while visiting Hilton Head Island, or if you live on Hilton Head Island. But, if you do have any of the following problems, we offer some helpful hints for you:
• Sunburn – Soak in cool water unless skin is broken or blistered. Ibuprofen may help.
• Bee Stings – Apply a baking soda paste and ice. If allergic, seek medical help.
• Jelly Fish Stings – Apply vinegar, sugar, salt or dry sand. After 20 min., rinse with salt water.
• Crab Bites – rinse well, disinfect, and apply antibiotic ointment. May need stitches.
• Tick Bites – DO NOT attempt to remove the tick. Cover with vaseline or a film of oil. When insect is free, remove with tweezers. Look for flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks. If this occurs, seek immediate medical attention.
• Snake Bites – CALL 911. Use a compression dressing just above site, NOT a tourniquet.
• Oyster Shells – cuts and abrasions can result in serious infections. Medical treatment advised.
• Alligators – Do NOT go near alligators. They run very fast. Do NOT feed or tease!
• Sting Ray – rinse with water and apply heat to neutralize sting. Seek medical attention.
• Dial 9-1-1
• Sheriff Beaufort County, Non-Emergency Dispatch • (843) 785-3618
• Sheriff Beaufort County • Office (843) 255-3300
• SC Highway Patrol • (843) 726-8076
• Hilton Head Headquarters • (843) 682-5100
• Hilton Head Burn Day Info • (843) 341-4714
• Beaufort Memorial Hospital • (843) 522-5200
• Coastal Carolina Hospital • (843) 784-8000
• Hilton Head Island Hospital Medical Center & Clinics • (843)681-6122
• Hilton Head Island Hospital Emergency Room • (843) 689-8281
• St. Joseph’s Hospital • (912) 925-4100
Other Emergency Numbers
• Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Explosives • (800) 800-3855
• Federal Burea of Investigation (Columbia) • (803) 551-4200
• South Carolina Poison Control Center • (800) 222-1222
U.S. Coast Guard Marine & Air Emergencies
• Charleston • (843) 740-7050
• Tybee Island, Georgia • (912) 786-5440