Time spent on an island is never wasted.

We live on Hilton Head Island and love it, but vacationing here can add up in expenses. So I have compiled the ultimate list of FREE and low cost adventures to have on our island. I also totally crowd sourced some options and have a new list of places I want to visit with the boys.   I’m going to keep this list updated when I stumble onto something new, FREE, and wonderful because I want to visit them too! 

Free Things to Do on Hilton Head Island South Carolina

Free and Low Cost Things To Do on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

1. The Beach

Hilton Head’s beaches are clean, beautiful and full of so much wildlife.  If you visit from May-October, you may see our sea turtles. We see dolphins jumping on almost every trip. We have crabs, fish, and so many beautiful sea birds.  Hilton Head’s beaches are clean and very family friendly. There is a reason Hilton Head Island has been on the Best US Beaches and Best Islands list year after year.

Cost:  Free 

When:  Year Round, you may need to bundle up.

Local Tips:  There are prettier beaches than the over-crowded Coligny Beach.   Burke’s Beach is mid island and a local favorite.  There is paid parking, but if park at the Chaplin soccer field it’s free and less than a 2 minute walk.  

2. Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn

Coastal Discovery Museum on island is built on an old plantation with beautiful well kept grounds. The marsh views are also spectacular. We love this museum, big mossy covered live oaks and so much to view.  There is wildlife, gardens, history and butterflies. There are paid events, but you are welcome to explore on your own.

Cost: Free 

When:  Year Round

Local Tips:  I’d definitely schedule at least half a day of your vacation here.  Check their calendars because I know Critter Management brings live alligators and other fun animals to visit.

3. Coligny Beach Splash Park

Splash pads are always so much fun. This is a fun splash fountain for younger kids. There are rocking chairs and southern swings all around to sit and enjoy the little ones.

Cost: Free

When: March-Novemberish

Local Tips:  It’s fun to wash off the sand and sea water after a long day at the beach, before they get in your car.

4. Shannon Tanner Concert at Shelter Cove Harbour 

Shannon Tanner has entertained the locals for 32 years.  Tuesday nights are the most crowded because there are fireworks.  This nightly party is a family favorite. Kids get up, sing and dance with Shannon. It’s on a beautiful harbor with a perfect sunset.

Cost: Free

When:  May-September Weeknights  

Local Tips:  Bring your own bubbles or glow sticks.  There are vendors selling bubble guns and bubble wands, but they are not budget friendly.  Hit a discount or dollar store before you go. 

5. Follow the Fiddlers in Old Town Bluffton

Bluffton is right over the bridge and so worthy of a day trip.  It’s such a cute little town to explore. This fiddler hunt is new to me, but you can explore Bluffton and find hidden crabs, like Hidden Mickeys.  Totally Cute! 

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tips:  We did this finally. It’s so cute. Little bronze crabs are all over down town Bluffton. Pro-Tip – Take a photo of the map with your phone. The video below was our first trip!

6. Geocaching on Island

Geocaching is modern day treasure hunting using GPS and Cartography skills. Big kids love geocaching and dads love leading the way and showing their cartography skills, well at least the dad in our life does.

Cost:  Free

When: Year Round

Local Tips:  Download the Geocaching app on your phone and go to the Fire station spots or any of the other great spots on island.  I know for a fact that the firefighters refill the caches often. 

7. Pokemon Go Hunting on Island

Pokemon Go  is another app game where you hunt fun little creatures on your phone.   It’s been around since 2016, but so many nerd kids and parents like us still love it. It’s an AR game and you chase little creatures around the island.

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tips:  My big kid is still hunting those invisible little creatures all over our island 4 years later.  There are many active Pokemon gyms on island. 

8. Saturday crabbing and fishing with Mr. Ben Green

We’ve never done this, admittedly fishing isn’t really my thing but it looks so fun.  It’s at the Hilton Head Sailing and Rowing center. This is another amazing sunset location on island. If you already know how to fish or crab, go visit this location anyway!

Cost: Free

When: (Spring-fall) Saturdays 4-7

Local Tip:  I would go just for the culture, he tells Gullah stories and legends to the kids.  

9. Fort Howell

This is a civil war era nature walk.  Not much is left from the original fort, but it’s an interesting glimpse into our history.  It’s so pretty and green, it’s a lovely nature walk.

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tip:  Hilton Head has an amazing history, it’s more than just a beach.

10. Hiking at Pinckney Island

This is a beautiful walk through the island between Bluffton and Hilton Head, you pass it on the bridge to Hilton Head. There are alligators and a butterfly farm. You can bike, walk, jog or just picnic.

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tip:  Bring Water.  There isn’t much on this island but beautiful nature.

Free Things to Do on Hilton Head Island South Carolina

11. Hiking Mitchelville Freedom Park

Mitchellville Freedom Park is one of my favorite spots on island.  There is so much history here. Mitchelville was the first freed slave communities in the south.   The trail ends on the beach. It’s one of our favorites. They have replicas of many of the buildings from the original settlement.

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tip:  Bring Bug Spray and sit on Maya Angelou’s bench.  

12. Audubon Newell Preserve

This park is beautiful for bird watchers, there are huge ospreys and bald eagles.  Hilton Head Island has beautiful birds.

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tips:  Bring binoculars.  

13. Park Hop

We have so many beautiful playgrounds with amazing trees on island. Start at Green Shell Park, then do Jarvis Creek Park, Driessen Beach Park, Chaplin Park & end at Shelter Cove Park

Cost: Free

When: Year Round

Local Tip: Bring bug spray!  Go in the gate at Green Shell, walk passed the cemetery and there is another second Indian Shell Ring on island.  It’s a protected archaeological site that you can walk up and touch. It’s quite unique. Jarvis Creek has alligators and amazing trees.  Chaplin and Dressen have cool ocean breezes. Shelter Cove has one of the best sunsets on island.

Free Things to Do on Hilton Head Island South Carolina

14. SeaPines Nature Preserve, Baynard Park Ruines, Harbour Town, and Lawton Stables Petting Zoo

Seapines is a huge resort or neighborhood on the South end of the island and has quite a bit to do that is free, but first you must pay a gate fee.  So why not do all of the activities in a day? Most don’t take long and are fun to visit.  

Cost: Gate Fee of 6 dollars

When: Year Round

Local Tip:  The Seapines Nature Preserve has the prettiest wildflower field in the spring and the Indian Shell Ring is Magical.  The Baynard Park Ruins definitely feel haunted. Harbour Town’s famous playground is in the middle of construction, the smaller play structures are still able to be played on but the big structure is roped off.   Gregg Russell has entertained the Harbour Town crowds every night under the Liberty Tree for over 40 years.

15. The Gullah Museum on Hilton Head 

The Gullah Museum is a work in progress, but if they are open on your visit PLEASE go visit.  The history is beautiful. 

Cost: Free

When:  Visit the Events Page on their website.  

Local Tip:  Donate to their organization if you are able to, they are doing great things with preserving so much culture here. 

Free things to do on Hilton Head Island South Carolina

I hope you have the best vacation ever, Hilton Head Island is a beautiful island full of family friendly activities.

Another Pro-Tip to save money is to talk to the guys in front of Wal-mart or at Coligny Plaza. They have free tickets to so many activities on island, you just have to listen to them for a few minutes. It’s not a bad trade.

For more fun things to do in Hilton Head with kids and your family, I have a list of 15 fun things to do in Hilton Head with kids !

Hey Hilton Head Island locals, did I miss any free and fun activities on island?  Please message me and I’ll add them right away. Thanks! 

Grab a Fork & Fun Visitors Guide from our local restaurants or even in your resort.  They have an updated list of fun events too! 

Nearby: Savannah Wildlife Refuge & Lemon island Maritime Museum