Hilton Head island is a popular tourist destination for many Americans living on the east coast. The island is known for its raw and natural feel, despite being a resort island. This is the result of strict, low impact building codes. It is also known for it’s family oriented entertainment, local stores, and its golf courses. 

Hilton Head, South Carolina is located 30 minutes north of Savannah, Georgia. It is visited annually by an influx of summer tourists, who increase the island’s summer population by a factor of six over the island’s winter population. Many of the islands visitors include the very wealthy, who sometimes own multi-million dollar vacation homes on the island. 

One of the reasons that the island is so popular with tourists is that it is a fully developed island, yet it maintains its natural feel. The island has strict building codes requiring that buildings not exceed a certain hight, so that the islands trees will remain taller than the buildings. The building codes also dictate that only certain neutral colors can be on the exterior of any building. This means that on Hilton Head even large restaurant chains like McDonald’s will have a beige or other colored neutral exterior. Not only do the buildings complement the natural environment of the island, there are several factors that create a more natural ambiance.  One of the factors are the many miles of bike trails that run along most roads and through the forests. Another feature which enhances the natural experience of the island are the large number of state and island parks. 

The island’s first developed resort is still it’s most popular, Sea Pines Resort. This portion of the island was developed in 1956 by the environmentalist, Charles Fraser. After it’s development and commercial success many other resorts were developed on the island, using Sea Pines as a model.  Sea Pines is home to Harbour Town, which contains the island’s most recognizable landmark, the Harbour Town lighthouse. Harbour Town is also the location of many nightly musical performances during the summer, including a nightly performance by Gregg Russell, a children’s singer and songwriter. It is also home to several local retail stores and restaurants.  The Hilton Head Golf Links has it’s eighteenth hole ending just outside of Harbour Town. This enables the golfers to have a panoramic view of the harbor as they finish a round of golf. This view from the eighteenth whole has been made famous through various television broadcasts of the PGA tour. 

The island residents and the government have fought to keep Hilton Head looking natural, by successfully blocking the building of offshore oil rigs and natural gas rigs They have also fought to keep the strict building codes in place. Due to these efforts, Hilton Head remains to be viewed by many, as a resort experience with a natural feel.