If you have visited Hilton Head Island and driven down Highway 278, you’ve probably seen a lot of Ohio license plates.
If you live here, you know the old jokes. There are more Ohio license plates than there are South Carolina plates. Ohioans in packed minivans going 15 miles an hour down 278. And that Hilton Head is actually Southern Ohio.
It’s popular for Clevelanders, Columbusers, Cicinnatians, Akronites and Toledoans, and, well just about everyone from the Buckeye State.
So, what’s the deal? Why do Ohioans love Hilton Head Island?
We’ll have to relive some Hilton Head history, starting with Charles Fraser. Fraser was an American real estate developer whose vision helped transform South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island from a sparsely populated sea island into a world-class resort. He developed the land that eventually became Sea Pines, creating a groundbreaking style of real estate development. Fraser built with a reverence and respect for the natural environment.
Back in the 1970s, Charles Fraser asked his Sea Pines marketing team come up with a strategy to target landlocked states. The idea was to spread the word to states like Ohio to see how beautiful Hilton Head is. The marketing team wanted people to come here on vacation and ultimately buy real estate. It was called “the Ohio Strategy.”
The Sea Pines’ crew knew Ohians were looking for quality beaches that were easily accessible by Interstate highways. So, they ran an influx of advertisements in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo. It worked, and families started coming in droves during the summer.
And every summer, the legacy lives on.
Buckeyes pack the beaches, restaurants, shops and villas. Generations of Ohio families make their yearly pilgrimage to our Island to golf, bike and beach and boat. It is easy to get to Hilton Head Island. From Ohio, it is a straight 10-12 hour drive down I-77.
Although long-time locals joke about the annual Buckeye invasion, Hilton Head Island gladly welcome it. Ohioans are important to our economy, as a tourism is our number one income. Tourist shops offer Buckeye Beach Bum T-shirts and stickers. And Salty Dog gear flies off the shelves, bought by vacationers to take home with them. Not to mention, they take home memories of their week in paradise.