What's the best time to visit Hilton Head?
The best time to visit Hilton Head is during the summer months, from May to August, when the warm weather offers ideal beach conditions and the island buzzes with activities. This season features balmy temperatures, perfect for outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, and golfing, though it’s also the busiest time with many tourists.
Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is one of the best beach destinations on the East Coast. Its beautiful shore and many other amenities make it a great destination for family fun or for couples in search of a romantic getaway.
The main draw of Hilton Head is obviously the beach, which opens onto the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can stroll to the iconic Harbour Head Lighthouse, go on a boat tour to try and see some dolphins, or just lounge on the beach.
On shore, there are plenty of things to do, such as explore the many nature preserves. Avid golfers should bring their clubs, because Hilton Head is world-famous for its courses.
Since the main goal of visiting Hilton Head is spending time on the beach, you definitely want to time your visit to coincide with the best beach weather. We’ll show you the best time to visit and more below.
The Overall Best Time to Visit Hilton Head
The best time to visit Hilton Head is during the summer, between May and August, when the weather is perfect for enjoying time on the beach and the community comes alive.
Since the main draw of visiting Hilton Head is spending time on the beach, weather is going to be an important concern when planning your trip. You obviously want to come when you will be able to tan on the beach or swim without getting cold.
The weather in Hilton Head is warm pretty much all year round, and it starts to warm up enough for swimming by the end of April. Summer temperatures are positively balmy, with average high temperatures in the high 80s according to U.S. Climate Data.
Temperatures are warm enough to swim well into September, and sometimes even until the beginning of October.
Although the summer months can get pretty rainy, you’ll also get a lot of good beach days if you come during this time. Plus, the weather is generally great for all sorts of activities such as kayaking and boat trips.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Hilton Head, so definitely expect plenty of other people around. You’ll have to make reservations, including for tee times at popular golf courses.
There is some benefit to having all these people around in the summer, which means that there is plenty to do. Hilton Head lives off of tourism, which means that there are the most things to do when there are the most people around.
During the summer, the town and local businesses organize all sorts of activities to keep tourists happy, and many businesses only open for the season when there is demand.
For example, the popular Pirates of Hilton Head tour operates the most excursions in the summer and doesn’t run at all during the off-season.
Popular summer events in Hilton Head include:
- Shelter Cove HarbourFest, a yearly summer festival with live music, fireworks, and more
- Summer Jams and Movies, outdoor concerts and film screenings hosted in a local park
- Parrot Palooza Sunset Celebration
There are event options for people of all ages, including plenty to keep families with children occupied.
Cheapest Time to Visit Hilton Head
The cheapest time to visit Hilton Head is during the winter, which is the island’s low season. Although the cold weather makes water activities impossible, you can still do plenty of other things.
While summer is a great time to lounge on the beach, many other people have the same idea. That means that the demand increases prices for everything from accommodation to restaurants.
During the winter, you can save a lot of money on hotels, resorts, and even vacation homes. Prices are up to 15-20% less expensive than they are during the high season.
Besides lower room rates, some resorts and vacation packages offer other free perks to encourage off-season travel, such as free meals or discounted tickets to attractions. If you are flying into Hilton Head, winter is also a good time to schedule your trip for discounts.
Airlines across the United States tend to offer deals in January, once the holidays are over, so even the cost of getting there could be lower. Although you can’t go swimming in the winter, visiting Hilton Head is still pleasant.
The weather isn’t hot, but still mild enough for a stroll on the beach or other outdoor activities. For serious foodies, visiting in winter is actually the best choice.
You can explore the many restaurants without needing a reservation. Winter is also fishing and seafood season. Visit during the Seafood Festival in February or some of the other winter gastronomical festivals for a taste.
Least Busy Time to Visit Hilton Head
The least busy time to visit Hilton Head is in the winter, but if you want to beat the crowds and still go swimming, then the best time to visit is in the spring.
Winter is definitely Hilton Head’s low season. You’ll have many parts of the beach to yourself, and you won’t have to worry about lines even for the most famous golf courses and restaurants.
However, the weather is too cold to go swimming, and many seasonal activities such as boat tours don’t run at all in the winter. If you want to swim at Hilton Head but don’t want to share the beach with thousands of other guests, visit during April or May.
Temperatures are warm enough to explore (and more comfortable than in the summer), but school hasn’t let out yet, meaning there are fewer visitors.
Spring with its floral blooms also makes the landscape even more beautiful. There is plenty to do during spring in Hilton Head, especially if you are a golf fan. The RBC Heritage PGA Golf Tournament is held here every April, a must-visit for passionate followers of the sport.
There are other golf tournaments with top names during the spring as well. If you’re not a golf fan and want to beat the crowds, you’ll want to avoid the PGA golf tournament as it attracts a lot of people (so does spring break).
Worst Time to Visit Hilton Head
Hilton Head is a year-round tourist destination so there is no bad time to visit. However, if we had to pick, the worst time is probably the fall due to the risk of hurricane season, but even that season has its charms.
Many tourist guides actually recommend visiting Hilton Head in the fall because temperatures are warm enough for swimming well into September and October, but the crowds are much sparser than they are during the summer.
However, September and October also mark peak hurricane season in Hilton Head. Within the past ten years, the island has been hit by three major storms that caused millions of dollars in damage as well as injuries.
The island doesn’t get hit by major hurricanes every year, but even a smaller hurricane or tropical storm can disrupt your plans.
Check the weather forecast ahead of time and get travel insurance in case you have to cancel your trip due to a hurricane watch. The local government has a page for what to do in case of a hurricane, so read it to prepare for your trip if you are going in the fall, just in case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other commonly asked questions about picking the best time to visit Hilton Head:
What are the best months to go to Hilton Head?
The best months to go to Hilton Head are April and May, when the weather is warm enough to go swimming but the island isn’t crowded yet.
When is hurricane season in Hilton Head?
Hurricane season lasts from June to November, so expect plenty of showers if you visit then. It peaks in September and early October.
What months can you swim in Hilton Head?
The official beach season runs from the beginning of April to the end of September, so you can swim at Hilton Head during any month that falls in between that time.
Does Hilton Head have an off-season?
Winter, between November and March, is the Hilton Head off-season. Expect few other tourists around and a laid-back atmosphere.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Hilton Head?
The best time to visit Hilton Head is during the summer, when you’ll get perfect beach weather. In the spring, you can get good weather and avoid the crowds.