Best and Worst Times to Visit Hilton Head

Updated on May 14, 2019
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Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely along the East Coast.

Some Hilton Head visitors get lucky with clear skies in August, which has the most rain of any month. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman
Some Hilton Head visitors get lucky with clear skies in August, which has the most rain of any month. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman

The best time to visit Hilton Head Island is a choice between cooler weather with a lower risk of rain or warmer weather with a higher risk of rain.

Visitors who like beaches pack this South Carolina island during the summer when the average high temperature is at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But the risk of rain also reaches a high point.

The island is busy at this time of the year anyways, because families visit when on break from school and to take advantage of hot weather. Visitors who arrive before Labor Day and leave after it will see the island roads go from heavy traffic to lighter traffic in a matter of days.

Other visitors who like mostly land activities take advantage of the many golf courses and miles of bicycle paths in the area during cooler months when average highs are in the 60s Fahrenheit.

Visitors take full advantage of the Hilton Head beaches during the summer. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman
Visitors take full advantage of the Hilton Head beaches during the summer. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman

If you have been to Hilton Head, would you go back again?

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It’s a tough choice, but nearly 2.7 million visitors make it every year when they flock to this lushly green haven on the South Carolina coast, according to statistics from the island’s chamber of commerce.

The island averages 285,000 visitors each month during the peak season from June through August, according to Charlie Clark, vice president of communications at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Hilton Head also averages 215,000 visitors per month during the "shoulder" seasons of April to May and September to October and 190,000 a month during the "value" season from November through March, Clark said.

Although weather is a major factor in the above numbers, the 42 square miles of Hilton Head also attract people because of the island’s carefully developed community plan that emphasizes a high respect for nature.

"People have a love affair with Hilton Head Island and its naturally lush landscape, Live Oaks dripping in Spanish moss, and coastal marshes. It’s all about the water here. Eight marinas offer every conceivable water sport from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking to regattas and deep sea fishing," Clark said.

The best month to visit Hilton Head for low risk of rain is November with an average of two inches during the month.

Monthly statistics from the U.S. National Weather Service show that November has the least amount of rainfall each year on average. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman
Monthly statistics from the U.S. National Weather Service show that November has the least amount of rainfall each year on average. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman

Best Months for Rain

The best month to visit Hilton Head for low risk of rain is November with an average of two inches during the month, according to 30 years of statistics from the U.S. National Weather Service. It rains on average a total of seven out of 30 days.

November is the start of a dry season that goes through May. The average monthly rainfall is three to four inches. Rain falls about eight to nine days each month or one out of every three or four days.

This dry season is best for people who like land-based activities. Temperatures are usually too cool for swimming, but the island has many other attractions.

"Hilton Head Island is an outdoor lover’s paradise. There’s every water sport under the sun readily available, and a myriad of other activities: golfing on over 20 world-class courses, tennis, biking on 60+ miles of leisure trails, horseback riding, or just enjoying the 12 miles of pristine beach," Clark said.

Four months during the year have the fewest days with rain. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman
Four months during the year have the fewest days with rain. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman

Worst Months for Rain

The Caribbean hurricane season brings plenty of rain to the Caribbean. It also can bring plenty of rain to the east coast of the United States including Hilton Head. Tropical storms and hurricanes often sweep through the Caribbean and move up or near the U.S. coastline.

The season begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. The peak months for storms and hurricanes are August through October.

But for Hilton Head, the worst months for rain are June through August.

Of the three, August historically has the most rain with seven inches. It rains on average 14 days during the month.

June and July are next with an average of six inches of rainfall. They both have about 12 days with rain.

September averages five inches of rainfall and 10 days with rain.

Despite these averages, our most recent visit took place at the end of August. We experienced no rain at all the entire week. Some visitors get lucky even in August.

Summer months have both the most rain and the highest temperatures. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman
Summer months have both the most rain and the highest temperatures. Copyright 2019 by Scott Bateman

Hilton Head Monthly Temperatures

The average high temperature in the Hilton Head area reaches at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius from June through August, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

The average low temperature, which occurs mostly at night, is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 22 Celsius during the summer.

Water temperatures stay about midway between the highs and lows of the day. During our visit in late August and early September, the seawater was slightly cool but comfortable every morning.

The average lows drop into the 50s Fahrenheit starting in October and bring down seawater temperatures to the point where swimming is usually too chilly. They drop even more into the 40s during winter. Temperatures usually don’t get warm enough for swimming again until May.

But cooler temperatures don’t stop some people from visiting the beach anyway to walk, ride bikes or simply hang out in a chair to read, think or sleep.

Best Reasons to Go

"Hilton Head Island was the first eco-planned destination in the country, and is designed to be the perfect blend of high-end resort and nature," Clark said.

"You won’t find high rises on top of the sand here, nor will you see neon signs or streetlights. The island’s 'founding father' Charles Fraser believed you should be able to see the stars at night, and you can whether you are on the beach or on a back porch."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    • promisem profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott S Bateman 

      7 months ago

      Thanks, Eurofile. We have seen quite a few tourist destinations on the East Coast of the U.S. We think Hilton Head is one of the nicest we have visited, especially for anyone who doesn't like a place as commercialized as Myrtle Beach.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      I had not heard of Hilton Head before so I have read your article with interest. You have included very useful information for anyone planning a visit there.

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