Two Grasslawn Avenue, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928 USA
+1 843-681-4000

Ecotourism


Your time on Hilton Head Island is the perfect time for uncommon water play in our pristine intracoastal environment. Experience kayaking in our boundless sea marshes or paddle boating on quiet lagoons. The surrounding moss-draped forests of live oaks, magnolias, pines and palmettos makes Hilton Head your intimate connection with nature. Plus, our birds and other local wildlife stir the soul on your chance sightings. Come discover and participate in nature during your stay at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.

Exploring Nature


Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a refuge of salt marsh, tidal creeks, forestland, freshwater ponds and brushland. The Island is a refuge for many different types of wildlife including alligators, white-tailed deer, and herons.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve encompasses 605 acres and offers hiking, fishing and wildlife veiwing for visitors. Be sure to chek out the Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field and the Indian Shell Ring, which is over 4,000 years old.

Audubon-Newhall Preserve

This 50-acre nature preserve provides a protected habitat for indigenous South Carolina Lowcountry animals and plants. The preserve is free to visitors and open from dawn to dusk. Enjoy hiking trails on your own or take a guided tour.

Bird Watching

Protected wetlands make Hilton Head the place to watch shorebirds and inland birds. See Egrets, Sandpipers and Wood Storks. Look above to catch Sea Gulls in flight alongside Pelicans and Osprey Eagles. Hilton Head Island is a bird watcher's haven.

According to the Audubon Society, nearly 200 species of birds flock to the lakes, marshes and shoreline of Hilton Head Island. However, more than 350 species of native American birds have been sighted on the Island over the past ten years. Among the most notable of species are the Snowy Egret, the Great Blue Heron and the Osprey, but bird watchers will also discover the White Ibis with its unique beak that curves downward. In addition, smaller Cattle Egrets that first arrived on Hilton Head Island in 1954 from their South American habitat may be observed following Island cows, horses and tractors.

Bottle Nose Dolphins

Hilton Head Island is a great place to see a bottle nose dolphin. In the summer, dolphins are prevalent along the shoreline, where they feed on small fish and sea creatures. There are also many companies offering dolphin tours.

Marine life study and dolphin-watching excursion cruises are available through several of the Island's public marinas and through Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.

Endangered Sea Turtles

The loggerhead turtle, an endangered species, nests extensively along Hilton Head Island's 12 miles of wide, sandy beaches. Few visitors ever meet these 200 pound giants, for the turtles choose the darkest hours of the summer night to crawl ashore and bury eggs in the soft sand. If a visitor happens to spot one of these wondrous creatures, they are advised not to interact with the turtle in any way. These rare animals, some almost a century old, must be allowed to lay their eggs to help ensure the survival of the species. Anyone who is lucky enough to witness this extraordinary sight is advised to mark the spot after the eggs are covered and inform the local Wildlife Department through the wild life hotline at 1-800-922-5431.

Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island offers a late night Turtle Watch for those who are interested in observing the habits of the loggerhead turtle. Please see our concierge or call 843-689-6767 for more information.

Four-legged Friends

Hilton Head Island natives also include deer, bobcats, otters, minks and even a few wild boar. Of all the Island creatures, the bobcat proves to be the most elusive, lurking in the forest preserves and in the undeveloped parts of the Island. With great foresight, plantation designers in the 1950's set aside areas for an animal habitat, when the master plan for the Island was first conceived. This ingenuity and high regard for environmental preservation set the standard for resorts worldwide. To view these Island creatures in their natural habitat, guests can take a Lake and Forest Hayride, Horseback Tour or Walking Tour of the Sea Pines Forest Preserve.