Helmed by water-sports enthusiast Neil Turner, the staff of Sea Monkey Watersports outfits and guides explorers through the aquatic arteries of Hilton Head Island and the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. After a quick tutorial, thrill-seekers take to the waterways atop a Yamaha WaveRunner, which reaching up to 50 miles per hour, while keeping an eye out for local shorebirds and dolphins looking to drag race. Paddlers enjoy a more slow-paced journey piloting single or double kayaks as they traveling on guided nature expeditions or self-led tours of the surrounding waters.
Parmesan-encrusted snapper. Hand-battered fried shrimp. One and a half pounds of steamed snow-crab legs. The culinary team at Parrot Cove Seafood Grill and Bar crafts these succulent seafood dishes from fresh catches at their waterfront restaurant on Shelter Cover Harbor. Owner Jimmy’s love of French and southern cooking is reflected in the menu featuring dinner and dessert crepes, oyster po’ boys, pulled-pork sandwiches, and half racks of ribs with housemade slaw. Meals unfold in a dining room adorned with nautical decorations and more than 40 parrots, who take forms such as paintings, statuettes, and waiters. Parrot Cove also provides spacious outdoor seating, seasonal live entertainment from local artists, and, for kids, a chance to rummage through a treasure box if they clean their plates.
Started by a professional winemaker, the Island Winery crafts fine fermented red, white, and Lowcountry specialty wines from the fruits of the South Carolina coast. The wine and cheese happy hour kicks off in the early evening and includes a glass of wine and light appetizers for all guests. Attendees taste 10 of Island Winery's wines, including the barrel-reserve chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and southern passion sangria. Those opting for the wine flight, held 12:30 p.m.–2:20 p.m., will enjoy an olfactory overload with samples of many of the available imbibing delicacies, and complimentary cheeses cleanse palates and act as rubbery tooth napkins.
Clad in hard hats and construction vests, kids in the Builders of Tomorrow exhibit load wheelbarrows with giant Lego dacta blocks, which they then use to fill in the wooden frame of a small house. Whether they realize it or not, these budding builders are learning—working with the Legos stimulates gross and fine motor skills, and tools such as a pulley system encourage creative problem solving. This interactive, play-based style of learning extends through all 10 exhibits at The Sandbox, which keep young brains on track to one day develop advanced adult skills, such as singing all the deductions on your tax return. In addition to overseeing exhibits that cater to infants through 8-year-olds, the museum's staff organizes programming such as Parents Night Out, Kids Night In, field trips, and facility rentals for celebrations such as birthday parties.
Glossy, tall tables and funky decorative woodwork on the walls make Daniel's Restaurant & Lounge feel like a ritzy nightclub lounge. The tapas is just as distinctive as the decor—tastes from all over the globe come together in each small plate made with locally sourced ingredients. Feel free to try Greek lamb sliders alongside tandoori chicken skewers. Or sample miniature sushi tuna pizzas alongside tender carolina crab cakes. The portions are more substantial than your typical tapas joint, too. Still, if you want something other than small plates, Daniel's also offers a more straightforward selection of steaks and seafood, including their signature surf and turf, NY strip steak, and slow-cooked, herb roasted chicken. After dinner hours, Daniel's transforms into a nightclub and hosts DJs and dance parties.
With more than three decades as a marine biologist tucked under his waders, Dr. Joe Richardson has studied beaches from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, but he still never ceases to marvel at the diversity of Tybee Island’s shores. The widely published professor emeritus of marine sciences at Savannah State University delights in sharing his knowledge about these lively shores, and to that end hosts walking tours for groups of all ages that incorporate conversation and hands-on activities. As his followers comb their fingers and toes through the sand of the beaches and inlets, they search for fossilized shark teeth and animals that Dr. Joe helps identify. He also discusses the tides, sand layers, local marine life, and which creatures eat with salad forks or soup spoons. Along the rock jetty, groups splash into tide pools to learn about the intertidal zone and the ways animals adapt to this habitat, then help Dr. Joe collect live specimens for a field aquarium by pulling in a 50-foot beach seine net and examining the fish and crabs caught in its weave. Lucky guests can glimpse the sleek fins of dolphins, and curious ones can ask Dr. Joe about his research projects, current ecological concerns, and how mermaids keep their fingers from getting pruny.