Hilton Head Island Living

A few things to watch out for, traffic, pollen, bugs, alligators.

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Traffic on the island can be very heavy at times, especially during the tourist season which runs from April to September. If you are planning to explore the island your best bet is to rent a bicycle from any of the many bike rental shops and enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace instead of trying to navigate the traffic.

If you are interested in exploring nearby Bluffton, expect about a half-hour's drive time during peak hours. U.S. Highway 278 (a-k-a William Hilton Parkway) is the main road across Hilton Head Island. You will discover that finding locations on the island can be tricky. Buildings share similar architecture, stained in subtle shades that disappear amid the profuse foliage.

The town's attempts to blend buildings in with natural surroundings, though praiseworthy, has led to some frustrations. Many buildings are hidden from view from the roads. Local laws regarding signage, street lights and billboards makes it difficult at times to find the place that you are looking for - this is especially true if you're traveling at night. Small mile marker signs dot the highway to provide a frame of reference for visitors.

The traffic circles on the island can be a challenge for those not accustomed to them, which includesjust about everyone who visits the island, since these circles (or roundabouts as the are called in Australia) are not very common in the U.S. Just remember to merge into the circle as you would from a yield intersection. Most importantly, do not stop your vehicle in the circle! This will cause accidents.

Pollen in the area is extremely dense during the summer months. A fine greenish-yellow powder blankets everything here during the spring and summer months. If you have allergies, be prepared with a good supply of anti-histamines and other allergy treatments.

Leave some room in your kit for bug spray. In the summer months bugs visit the island too. Mosquitoes are numerous due to the breeding grounds provided by surrounding marsh lands and island lagoons. No-see-ums are tiny flying gnats that leave itchy welts behind. Chiggers are like tiny ticks that leave a nasty bite; don't make the mistake of playing with the Spanish moss that sometimes falls from the oak trees, as this moss is often home to nests of chiggers. Sand fleas are prevalent along the beaches; they'll jump on your ankles as you step through the dunes.

If you have never seen a palmetto bug, then you are in for a surprise! "Palmetto bug" is a cute sounding name for what looks like a giant flying cockroach. The first time I saw one, I ran screaming in the opposite direction! They don't bite, but the gross-out factor alone makes them worth mentioning.

Alligators live on the island and pretty much keep to themselves. It isn't uncommon for alligators to take a stroll on the golf course or to sun themselves on a hot sidewalk, though. They might even have a swim at the local pool from time to time. Don't try to get close or to feed them. That's not only dangerous, it's illegal!

If you are considering a vacation that includes gorgeous weather, miles of beaches, world class golf, entertainment and dining, then explore the many offerings available on Hilton Head Island.

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