Hilton Head Island is a scenic tourist destination. Measuring 12 miles long and 5 miles wide, this little island offers massive attractions throughout the year. Hilton Head attractions are enormous. From sandy beaches, hiking trails, colorful resorts, and upscale parks, Hilton Head is one word: beautiful. However, one might find it difficult to decide when to drop in.
The best time to visit Hilton Head is between April and May, during spring. The temperature during this time hovers between 78 to 85°F on average. Coincidentally, this time of the year is less crowded. Or, you can visit the island during September and October to save up to 30% on flights, hotels, and other accommodations.
However, Hilton Head has enough delights throughout the entire year. No matter when you visit, it’d still be a worthwhile experience.
Follow us as we look at the best times to visit the island. We also explore the key events throughout the year.
When Should You Not Go To Hilton Head
The least favorite time to visit Hilton Head is between June and August. The temperature during this time lingers around 90°F, with the sun coming out to play. It is summer, and the beaches will be filled with locals and tourists. During this time, all season activities have officially reopened.
Hotel and resort accommodation tend to rise more than a notch. The food menu may cost more than usual this time. With several persons exploring the island, you may not have the best experience.
However, if you don’t mind the crowd, you can totally visit during summer. It’s recommended to book in advance to save premium travel and lodging costs.
The winter months (December to February) are also a period you shouldn’t visit. It’s the low season with minimal tourist activity. Temperatures around this time drop to 40°F. The waters across the beaches will be too icy for swimming.
However, the island is still ripe for sightseeing. You can engage in horse riding and wildlife spotting in Sea Pines Forest Preserve. You can also hop on sunset cruises and explore sunrise beach trails. Not to forget the winter festivals.
Cheapest Time to Travel to Hilton Head
The cheapest time to visit Hilton Head Island is during fall (September to November). It’s just after summer, and the crowds have begun to thin out. You will find prices relatively cheap during this period.
The beaches around the island are much quieter. The average daytime temperature hit around 80°F on most days. You can also experience lows in the mid-60°F. So, you’ll have more time to explore the beaches and trails.
But it’s also peak hurricane season, one of the major drawbacks. Hurricanes rarely hit the South Carolina island. But you must check with the local weather authorities while you’re there.
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How to Get Around Hilton Head
The way to get around the island is by bike, bicycle, or car. Hilton Head is a small expanse of land. So, getting from one point of the island to another takes less commute time.
There are more than 60 miles worth of bike-friendly trails around the island. So, you’d have less need for a car. You should also note that there’s little transportation around the island due to its size. But if you’re staying at any of the resorts, an area shuttle is available.
But mostly, the major mode of transportation on the island is hiking. It’s fun; you can catch some scenic sites as you explore its delights.
The Hilton Head Island Airport is the closest airport to the island. It’s also strategic to the resorts nearby. However, it provides a limited flight schedule.
If you’re not concerned about the schedule, you can fly in from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV). It’s about 45 miles from Hilton Head, and you can rent a cab or use ride-hailing services.
Monthly Breakdown of the Weather in Hilton Head
Below is a monthly guide on what to expect throughout the year. We also highlighted the key events to attend.
January: Coldest Month of the Year
January is the heart of the winter season in Hilton Head. With temperatures highs of 60°F and lows of 39°F, it’s the coldest month. You’re bound to experience frigid winds on most days. There’d be less humidity, with the sun coming out to play for a few days. You should pack warm clothes, jackets, and sweaters.
However, January has a truckload of events lined up despite the cold. You can enjoy Elf the Musical at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. It’s a musical event that spans from the last week of December into the first week of January.
Keep your eye out for the Beaufort Oyster Festival, hosted by the Beaufort Hospitality Association. The event celebrates the oyster culture and agro-tourism. It is held yearly at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
Other events include:
- Snow Day.
- Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber Restaurant Week.
- Half and Quarter Marathon
February: Gullah Culture Celebration
February is slightly better than January in terms of the weather in Hilton Head. You are bound to expect average highs of 64°F and lows of 42°F in the month. You should pack warm clothes, jackets, and sweaters if you intend to spend more time outdoors.
Events include the Gullah celebration at the Art League Gallery. It’s a month-long art exhibition featuring artworks from emerging artists from the Gullah people. There will also be an artists’ reception and dinner event.
The annual Gullah Market offers different demonstrations. You can find original Gullah and African crafts and food for sale.
You can also join the locals, and other tourists for Freedom Walk on National Freedom Day. It’s held at the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park. The event features various speakers, wellness information, and many more.
February is also the month of love. You and your significant other can hop on a Valentine’s Day boat cruise across the beaches on the island.
Other events in the month include:
- Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival.
- Beaufort International Film Festival.
- Saturday Seafood Festival.
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March: Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival
March is the end of the low season in Hilton Head. With a temperature high of 71°F, you can expect some warmth the entire month. However, you can expect some frigid winds on some days.
Thus, your travel bags should include more casual clothing than warm clothes. There are several events lined up for the month. The Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival make its grand return. It’s a celebration of the best food and sips in the region.
The St. Patrick’s Celebration is around the corner. There’s going to be a parade on Pope Avenue. The Irish celebration concert will be held at the Lowcountry Celebration Park.
The Hilton Head Wingfest will be organized at the same park. It’s a family-themed event featuring over 20 restaurants serving their very best. Expect a lot of chicken wings, bungee jump, and live entertainment.
Other events include:
- Jellyfish paint party.
- The Savannah Music Festival.
- Lowcountry home and garden show.
- Palmetto Quilt Festival.
April: RBC Heritage PGA Golf Tournament
April offers a little taste of what summer is like in Hilton Head. With temperature highs hitting 78°F, you can pack light clothes. April is one of the best times to explore the island. The tourists haven’t started trooping in yet. The water sport rental outfitters will be open during this time.
Outdoor activities this time include swimming, sightseeing, wildlife spotting, and hiking. You can explore Gullah Heritage Trail or visit the Hilton Head Distillery.
Major events include the Savannah Music Festival, which stretches from late March to April. The RBC Heritage PGA Golf Tournament is also coming live in April. It will be held at the Habour Town Golf Links at the Sea Pines Resort.
The Art Market opens at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Here, you’d find original crafts and artworks on sale.
May: More Festivals
May usher in more daytime warmth with temperature highs hitting 85°F. You should ditch your warm clothes and get into the summer action! It’s still spring, but you can feel the summer air already.
The ocean may still be cool. But it’s warm enough if you’re traveling from the north. Rain is less apparent, and when they fall, it is showers. Outdoor activities include paddle boarding, kayaking, charters, and boat tours.
If you’re in tune with nature, you can head to the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. You can engage in birding tours and hiking.
Outdoor events include Pedal Hilton Head Island on the 1st. It’s a charity biking ride around the island to benefit the Boys and Girls Club. The Hilton Head Farmers Market opens every Tuesday. There, you can purchase local produce, seafood, and baked goods.
Keep your eyes on the lookout for the La Isla Magazine Fiesta de Mayo Festival. It’s a taco festival held at Shelter Cove Park. Side attractions include taco contests, dances, and live music.
Other events include:
- Music & Taste and the Harbour.
- Hilton Head Art Festival
- Memorial Day Freedom 5K.
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June: Peak Season
June welcomes locals and tourists to the peak season in Hilton Head. You will experience average temperature highs of 89°F and lows of 70°F. The weather is humid and will remain so for most of the month.
Ditch your spring clothes completely and pack dresses, shorts, t-shirts, and sunscreen. It’s beach time. Accommodation is expensive and limited during this time of the year. You should book in advance if you plan to visit the island in June.
There’s a wide assortment of outdoor activities to do on the island. They include wake sports, parasailing, paddle boarding, kayak tours, jet skiing, and many more.
Outdoor events include Coligny Summer Music. The local music event held at the Coligny Center Stage features creative performances. The Shelter Cove Harbour Fireworks are just what it is: colorful fireworks. Some of the resorts also offer guided tours around the island.
July: Hottest Month of the Year
July is the hottest month of the year in Hilton Head. The humid weather only features cool breezes on a few occasions. The average temperature highs hit 92°F and lows hit a remarkable 73°F. Rain is limited to a couple of showers in the month.
Outdoor activities are centered around the beaches, pools, and the ocean. You can hop on boat charters and dolphin tours to explore the nearby marshes and creeks. You can also engage in golf at the resorts if you’re staying there.
Events include the Super Summer Jam at the Shelter Cove Community Park. It’s a family-themed event featuring food, music, dances, and fun activities for kids.
There’s also Party in the Park, a live music festival at Lowcountry Celebration Park.
August: Outdoor Summer Concerts
August is peak season on Hilton Head Island. The temperature highs linger around 91°F, and lows hit 72°F. The beaches are still warm, so light, summer clothes. If you’re comfortable around large crowds, you should visit this month.
This month, accommodation, food menu, and services are expensive. However, there’s a wide selection of outdoor activities.
Events include Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival. It’s held at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park. Other events include the Hilton Head Big Fish 5K.
September: OluKai Lowcountry Boil Paddle Battle
September is one of the best months to visit the island. Most crowds thin out after Labor, leaving them free for exploration. Temperature highs in September drop to 86°F and lows to 68°F. So, you are bound to expect humid air throughout the month.
Hotel and rental prices are considerably lower compared to the peak season. You can engage in kayaking and paddle boarding during the hotter days. On cool days, you can bike around the island or play golf.
Outdoor events include OluKai Lowcountry Boil Paddle Battle. It’s a paddle race from Skull Creek to The Outside Foundation. Side attractions include kayaking for kids. Take note of the HHI Shrimp Festival featuring foods and drinks at the Shelter Cove Harbour.
The annual Bluffton Boiled Peanut Festival is also held in September.
October: Fish & Grits Music Festival
October is also another perfect time to visit Hilton Island. It’s also one of the cheapest times to visit. You can expect temperature highs of 78°F and lows dropping to 68°F. Most days are warm, with occasional instances of tropical storms.
Outdoor activities on the island include biking, mini golf, and water-based sports. Major events in the month include the Fish & Grits Music Festival. It’s held at the Lowcountry Celebration Park featuring live music, food, dances, and many more.
Other events include:
- Jeep shows at Honey Horn Plantation.
- Rock ‘n Ribs.
- Sandalwood Run for Hunger 5K
- Italian Heritage Festival
November: Start of the Low Season
November is the start of the low season on Hilton Head Island. Temperatures dip to 71°F on most days. Few visitors appear on the island during this time. Accommodation is also cheaper compared to the summer months.
November is the month of several annual festivals on the island. The famous Hilton Head Oyster Festival kicks off on the 11th. It’s an event featuring southern foods, beer, wine, and baked foods. The next day features the HHI Lantern Parade across the island.
Other events include:
- Turkey Trot.
- Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Series
December: Winter Wonderland Festival
The cold winds are back in December. You’re bound to expect temperatures highs of 63°F and lows of 41°F. Furthermore, there's humidity on most days, but frequent instances of storms.
Note that some restaurants open for only a couple of hours. However, most public spots will remain open. Outdoor activities include dolphin-watching trips, kayaking, bird watching, and biking.
December kicks off with the Winter Wonderland Festival at Shelter Cove Park. It’s a family-themed festival featuring parades, candy cane hunts, carnival games, and many more.
What's more? You should also watch out for the Christmas-themed Hilton Head Farmers Market. It’s held at the Coastal Discovery Museum.
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What is the Best Time to Visit Hilton Head With Family?
The best time to visit Hilton Head with family in September and October. It’s just after the peak season. The large crowds have thinned out, and the beaches will be free to explore with your entire family.
Your family can engage in a wide range of outdoor activities. They include paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, sunbathing, biking, and many more.