On April 11th, Austin and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Since Austin was traveling for work, we weren’t able to do anything special on the actual date. However, we more than made up for it a month later after we had moved from Oregon and had gotten settled in South Carolina. Early in May, we repacked our suitcases and left our hotel in Greenwood to head to a new hotel – the South Beach Marina Inn on Hilton Head Island. (Let me say that it’s just plain weird to leave stuff in a hotel. It’s like a vacation inside a vacation.)
After a five hour drive and upon arrival at the South Beach Marina, we were thrilled to discover that we would be staying in such a quiet and secluded area of the Island – the Sea Pines Resort. The South Beach Marina in Sea Pines is where the famous Salty Dog Cafe is located and there is a $6 fee to get into the area unless you are a resident or have a guest pass that came with our lodging.
The view from our balcony.
Everything about the trip felt like one blessing after another. Starting with our lodging. Staying at a fancy resort was not in our budget and we thought we would have to stay at a cheaper hotel inland and then drive to the beach. However, quite by accident, we stumbled upon the South Beach Marina Inn. It looked too good to be true since it is located on the waterfront and prices were exactly the same as the budget hotel we had been previously considering. We took a risk and booked a random room and little did we know it was their most popular room called the Crow’s Nest overlooking the entire Marina. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, a comfy living room, a kitchenette, and a gorgeous view for $130 a night? Does it get any better than that?
We fell in love with our room and would have happily stayed a few more days since we were outside so much, we felt like we didn’t get to enjoy it properly.
Since the Salty Dog Cafe was located on the same marina as our room at the inn, it was only a short walk away. Great food, excellent service, and beach vibes are what kept us coming back multiple times during our stay. (Note: Their Key Lime Pie is outstanding.)
After lunch on our first day, we picked up our bike rentals. Everywhere in the Sea Pines Resort is connected with bike paths and we were so excited to be able to bike everywhere over the weekend.
The weather was beautiful and we had bikes. What more could you want? We set out to explore part of the island and our first stop was the Stoney-Baynard Ruins.
The Stoney-Baynard Ruins are the remnants of a grand antebellum plantation home built 1793-1810 by Captain John “Saucy Jack” Stoney. The original house was 1885 square feet, built of timber and tabby; a mixture of oyster shells, lime, and sand. In 1837, the Stoney family declared bankruptcy and William Baynard acquired the property from the bank. The home was raided during the Civil War and Union forces made it their headquarters. It burned down shortly after the Civil War. Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the Stoney-Baynard Ruins have captivated guests and residents with its mystery and beauty. Explore Sea Pines | Historical Sites
After our bike ride, we were hot and ready for ice cream. The Salty Dog Ice Cream Shop is on the South Beach Marina too and it became a spot we visited daily.
Austin got Key Lime and I chose Peach – the same flavors of pie we each picked for our wedding desserts. This happened completely accidentally too.
If you are looking for a quiet, secluded beach, then South Beach is the spot for you.
There were at least five dolphins swimming this close to the shore.
For our first dinner out, we drove across the island to Skull Creek Boathouse. We went for their early-bird specials from 4 to 5:45 p.m. The food was delicious, but not as good as some of the other places we tried later on. Ultimately, not worth the drive.
After dinner, we decided to visit the popular Coligny Beach. It was crowded, noisy, and smelly. There were sand fleas biting us and after a quick walk on the shore, we were ready to head back to the private Sea Pines resort and the South Beach Marina.
Our first night in Hilton Head ended with us sitting out on the marina enjoying the gorgeous views at dusk. Everything was peaceful and perfect.
We woke up early on Saturday morning because we wanted to leave Sea Pines and go to the Java Burrito Co. for breakfast. According to the map, it should have taken us 30 minutes to get there. Instead, it took an hour and a half. So, if you stay on the South Beach Marina and want to go to the Java Burrito Co., be prepared for a long bike ride, or just take your car.
By the time we arrived, we were famished and enjoyed the most delicious breakfast tacos ever washed down with lots of iced coffee.
Java Burrito Co. is a family- owned and operated Mexican Grill & Coffee Bar in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We’ve only been around since 2013 yet the family history in the restaurant industry goes back over 100 years! We use the finest ingredients and traditional methods to produce the most exceptional products.
Our Burrito Bar sources organic and local food when in season. We never use artificial preservatives and absolutely no growth hormones or antibiotics. Our Coffee Bar sources locally roasted beans, organic milk and all-natural cane sugar sweeteners. Our philosophy promotes positive change within the sustainable farming initiative, supporting farms and individuals with like standards. Java Burrito Co. | About
Once we were fueled by coffee and tacos, we biked back to Sea Pines and Harbor Town so we could climb to the top of the lighthouse.
If you’re visiting Hilton Head and want a fun activity, I highly recommend the lighthouse museum. There are lots of interesting things to read and look at as you make your way up to the best views on the island.
Backpack Details: Fjallraven Kanken
By the time we had finished our lighthouse adventures, it was time for lunch. The Sea Shack may not look like much, but it ranked as some of the best food we at during our stay on the island. The Sea Shack is run by a former shrimper who serves food that is “not fancy, just good!” We ordered the Shack Attack that was big enough for both of us to share with a crab cake, fish, oysters, shrimp, and scallops.
We spent the rest of the day at a gorgeous beach in the Sea Pines Resort. Pristine amenities and a happy, quiet, family-friendly beach made this the perfect place for us to go swimming.
Sunny days, sandy toes, saltwater air, and waves that were perfect for swimming in. At one point, while we were walking in the water, I stepped on a flounder. It was a terrifying experience to think you’re stepping on sand and then feel something slippery swim out from under your foot. *shudder*
Sunday was our last day on the island and we packed up, checked out, and left our room at the lovely South Beach Inn and spent the better part of the morning riding the free trolley from the South Beach Marina to Harbor Town and back again.
Our final lunch on Hilton Head was at a hole-in-the-wall place we had heard fantastic things about. Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe had some of the best Jambalaya and Étouffée we had ever had. The owner, Kenny, used to be a chef in New Orleans and, when he moved to Hilton Head Island and opened this place with his family, now serves Cajun food that is as authentic as it gets.
Before making our drive back to Greenwood, we had to have another meander along the South Beach and have our last Salty Dog Ice Cream.
Not pictured: The burning hot asphalt that was roasting our feet and the thorns in the dirt that poked us whenever we tried to escape. #walkofpain
It was a hot and sticky day so we spent our last hours sitting in the red rocking chairs under the Harbor Town Lighthouse while sipping ice-cold drinks. We’re both such old souls and are unashamed to admit it.
Hilton Head Island was the perfect place to spend our (belated) first anniversary. From stunning views to quiet beaches to incredible food, Austin and I both fell completely in love with the island and the Sea Pines resort in particular. The southern part of the island has such a rich and interesting history and we are already excited for the One Day when we hope to be back again. Staying at the Crow’s Nest in the South Beach Marina Inn, eating delicious seafood off paper plates at the Sea Shack, and spending hours riding our bikes. Island life is a slower-paced life and it was exactly the getaway that we needed.
Have you been to Hilton Head Island?