November 8, 2012
We arrived at Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort and Marina yesterday. Given that we have had beautiful weather so far, we have been spoiled so the cold (55 degree) weather was a shock. It was windy too which made it feel cooler. We are staying on a site facing the water. The RV park is actually a condominium community of concrete pads complete with electric, water and sewer and trash collection and cable. There are several lots for re-sale. The waterfront lots have an asking price of around $250,000.00 while the interior lots are on average $60,000.00! Owners may only live on their own pads for 180 days total and must certify that whatever RV is on the pad is moveable at a moment’s notice (FEMA regs) There is a monthly homeowners fee along with taxes. It is just like a “normal” condo but is a RV pad. There are tennis courts and two pools, a marina with boat ramp, exercise room and a restaurant. Most of the sites are beautifully landscaped without all the “chachka” you sometimes see in “trailer” parks. The management company rents out the pads when the owner is not there and get 50% of the rental fee. I suspect that during the high season, the park is filled because there are only two RV parks on the island and both are these “condo” parks.
In any event, we are not getting a good feel about Hilton Head Island; just the opposite in fact. What none of the wonderful brochures tell you about Hilton Head is that it is comprised of various private communities that are gated. Unless you have business in that community, like a tee time or restaurant reservation, you don’t get in. Same with the beaches. There are some public beaches but it costs $1.00 per hour to visit and there is minimal parking. Today, we drove the jeep to the Sea Pines section to go see the Harbour Town lighthouse etc… We were prepared to pay the $5.00 entrance fee into that community because we expected to get lunch and understood we’d get a $5.00 off coupon. However, when we got to the gate, the guard asked where we were going and when we told him, he told us that kayaks were not permitted in the Harbour Town area and we’d have to turn around and go back or go somewhere where we could take the kayaks off the roof. What the hell? Turns out, we learned later that if we had said we were going to the country club to have lunch, we could have gotten in – it was just the Harbour Town area that didn’t want folks bringing their own kayaks in since they have a kayak rental place. But seriously, talk about getting a really bad vibe from a place. Needless to say, we turned around and went “home”.
This was the second “rejection” from HHI we had. Yesterday, we were looking for the public beach but every time we turned onto a road we thought would get us there, we were turned away at the entrance of some private “community” or resort. The map we were given of the island is clearly misleading and useless. Finally, we located Folly Field beach, the public beach, (paid the money) and walked for about 90 minutes until after the sun set. Dixie loved it. The ocean was so calm that it looked more like a lake with absolutely no waves except those that gently lapped the water’s edge. I have never seen anything like it. You would think you were at Peace Valley Park, not the Atlantic Ocean.
Today was saved by the lovely dinner we had at the Sunset Grill located at the RV park – but not trailer food. All of the “locals” we met on the beach mentioned the Sunset Grill when asked for recommendations for dinner so, obviously, that is where we went. At sunset, the Calibogue Sound was lovely with sharp contrast between the orange sky and silhouetted piers. There were dolphins everywhere shadowed by the pelicans looking for scraps. It was beautiful. Finally, a nice memory of Hilton Head.