The South Carolina Lowcountry is famous for its unspoiled coastline and endless natural beauty. However, one sea island stands out among the rest! On Hilton Head Island, man and nature find the perfect balance; the result is pristine beaches, sparkling waterways, and some of the most beautiful wildlife viewing opportunities on the coast! Read on for a local guide to the wildlife of Hilton Head. And, if you are looking for more ways to get to know our island community, take a look at our free 7-Day Guide. This carefully curated guide has helped so many people plan the ultimate Hilton Head Island vacation. Use it for restaurant recommendations, guided tours, beach destinations, and more!
Your Complete Hilton Head Wildlife Guide
Bottlenose dolphins are one of Hilton Head Island’s friendliest residents! Whether you are boating on the Atlantic Ocean or simply enjoying the views from the shore, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of their fins dipping in and out of the water!
If you are in search of the best places to see dolphins on Hilton Head Island, then we recommend embarking on a guided cruise. For an active adventure, try Saltmarsh Paddle Tours: both kayak and SUP tours are available! For a boating excursion, we recommend Dolphin Discoveries. Their guided boat tours are perfect for the entire family! Although the dolphins may tempt you, please remember that feeding them is illegal.
May through October is loggerhead turtle nesting season on Hilton Head. During this time, baby turtles use the moonlight to navigate their way to the ocean. Houses and buildings that are visible from the beach must turn off their lights and close their drapes at night. The use of flashlights is also discouraged. The best way to catch a glimpse of these sea turtles is by booking an oceanfront home. You may even be lucky enough to spot these sea animals before dawn or just after twilight!
If you want to learn more about our island’s sea turtles and their journey to the ocean, we recommend making a trip to the Coastal Discovery Museum. It is the best way to learn more about these mysterious animals and discover what you can do to protect them!
Visitors are often surprised to learn that many manatees call the waters of Hilton Head Island their home. These sea cows are always a special treat to see! However, you’ll need to plan a day on the water to catch a glimpse of them. They are most commonly spotted in the waters at Shelter Cove Harbour and the Marina during the summer.
Please keep in mind that these sea animals are a threatened species. Interacting with them, including touching, watering, or feeding, is illegal.
Hilton Head Island is a birding paradise! Here, birds make their homes in so many places. Egrets and the great blue heron are frequent visitors of the marshes. You’ll often see them patiently waiting for the opportunity to scoop up their next fish meal!
Flying over the sea, you’ll also likely see pelicans flocking in small groups. One of the best places to see them is from your very own private oceanfront patio. If you are passing by any of the island’s lakes or ponds be on the lookout for the Anhinga Anhinga, commonly referred to as the “snake bird.” This bird earns its name from its swimming technique, as its body completely submerges underwater with only its neck and head showing from the surface!
In the trees, you’ll also find cardinals, blue jays, robins, and more. Remember to look out for our state bird, the Carolina wren!
No list of Hilton Head wildlife is complete without the American alligator! These reptiles are native to South Carolina and are often spotted in the summer. They make their homes in many of the island’s waterways, including lakes, lagoons, marshes, and rivers. You may even spot one waddling across one of the island’s golf courses! Please remember to never approach or feed alligators.
Stay Near the Best Activities & Places for Wildlife Viewing
The Sea Pines Forest Preserve, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Mitchelville Beach are among the best places for viewing wildlife on Hilton Head, and you can stay near them all when you choose any of our beautiful vacation homes.
If you are looking for easy access to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, then you will love our Sea Pines homes and villas. These gorgeous vacation rentals feature exclusive beach access to the beach at Sea Pines, a complimentary amenities card, and proximity to the island’s famous candy-striped lighthouse. If you are ready to plan your next island getaway, check our seasonal specials and book your stay. We can’t wait to welcome you to the South Carolina Lowcountry’s most beloved sea island!
If you are looking for more fun ways to explore Hilton Head Island, remember to download your free 7-Day Guide!