Hilton Head vs. Myrtle Beach: Which One is Better for a Vacation?


When organizing an unforgettable beach vacation, it can feel confusing to choose the best-suited destination for your family. Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach have become incredibly popular amongst travelers, and it’s tough to choose between the two locations. So, which hotspot would be better for a vacation?

Hilton Head is suited to travelers seeking a scenic, upscale, and relaxed beach holiday. Myrtle Beach is great for families seeking additional entertainment and activities. Both destinations are excellent for vacations, and the choice will ultimately depend on personal preference. 

Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach are both incredibly alluring for their beautiful beaches and exciting attractions, making them great choices for vacations. However, there are quite a few differences to consider before making your final decision. Join us as we discuss both locations and what you could expect, to help you decide which of the two areas would suit your plans best.

Hilton Head

Hilton Head has become a favorite vacation destination for many individuals, couples, and families seeking a laidback experience. 

Beaches and Coastlines

The beaches of Hilton Head are pristine, wide, and expansive, with plenty of room for everyone to sunbathe in privacy. The waters are relatively calm, meaning it’s great for spontaneous wading and swimming and perfect for toddlers and kids.  

But, the sand is coarse compared to many other beaches. Some beaches are more crowded than others, but the beaches toward the northern end of Hilton Head are typically more secluded when it comes to foot traffic.  

Major Attractions and Activities

Although Hilton Head is famous for laidback lounging, tranquility, and natural beauty, the island is also iconic for various unique entertainment opportunities.

Day Trips

While Hilton Head has plenty to offer travelers, many people enjoy visiting the area since it’s nearby to other fantastic locations. It would be a great destination for visitors hoping to explore multiple places all in one vacation. 

Popular day trip locations include Savannah, which is around 40 minutes away, and Charleston, which is approximately 1.5 hours away by car. It’s quite easy to plan a fun day trip to surrounding areas for additional entertainment and activities, while still benefitting from the peace and serenity that await back in Hilton Head. 

Biking and Nature Walks

Have you ever dreamed of speeding down a shoreline parallel to the ocean’s rolling waves? If you have, Hilton Head may be just the place for you. Since the sand is harder than normal, people can bike along Hilton Head’s shores for an incredibly unique experience. Many travelers love to visit Hilton Head for its stunningly scenic natural setting, and various paths adorn the island to help you enjoy it to the utmost. 

Exciting Natural Activities

Although most of Hilton Head is known for laidback pastimes, there are a few more adventurous opportunities in the area as well. Visitors can parasail, kayak, jet-ski, and much more. Dolphins can be observed with organized cruises, while many stables offer horseback riding – one of which offers horseback riding along the beach!

Golf and Tennis Courses

Hilton Head is quite a popular destination for avid golf lovers seeking time on the green to enjoy their pastime in a calm setting. The area flaunts 40 championship golf courses, most of which were designed by PGA players and skilled architects. The detail and variety within the selection of golf courses are impressive, and enthusiasts will find a ton of engagement and fun with each unique course. 

If you’re not into golfing, rest assured that there are other sporting opportunities in Hilton Head as well. Visitors can also partake in tennis for some added fun and interactive activity. The area is home to a top-rated tennis resort in addition to three of the top 50 tennis facilities.

Atmosphere

Hilton Head is quiet, peaceful, and serene since the island prides itself on preserving as much of its natural state as possible. For example, no buildings are allowed to be built higher than the tallest tree, apart from the lighthouse. Most of the island remains organic and is not urbanized to an extreme degree, affording an incredible amount of enchanting natural beauty. 

Visitors can sunbathe on Hilton Head’s beaches, stroll along its picturesque paths, and dine on mouthwatering cuisine in peace. Since the overall atmosphere is so quiet, it’s a fantastic place to go if you’re seeking a well-deserved getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Travel in the Area

While Hilton Head is typically not overly crowded outside of peak season, the traffic can still be fairly hectic on a normal day. However, traffic and access to amenities or activities are typically even more fraught during public holiday periods or school breaks, when families flock to the area for an iconic beach vacation. 

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for fun-loving families, as it boasts a bustling atmosphere, a lively beach, and an awesome selection of numerous entertainment opportunities and activities.

Beaches and Coastlines

Myrtle Beach’s shores are stunning, flaunting sparkling waters and soft sand. But, it can be nearly impossible to find a comfortable spot to recline in privacy since the beaches are often crowded and busy. The area is better suited to vacationers and families seeking much more than simple and relaxed beach days. 

It’s far more urban and modernized, featuring a boardwalk lined with numerous businesses and entertainment opportunities for adults and children. Myrtle Beach provides public access to its beaches with paid parking, meaning that it’s quite easy to head to the shores and settle in for the day. 

Major Attractions and Activities

Although many visit Myrtle Beach for its beaches, the area prides itself on offering something for everyone. Conveniences and comforts are abundant for travelers, ranging from relaxing activities to exciting activities for younger crowds. The area is home to countless businesses and stores leading right up to the shoreline.  

Broadway at the Beach

Broadway at the Beach is undeniably one of the most alluring attractions for individuals and families visiting the area, situated at the heart of Myrtle Beach. Numerous entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities afford an endless supply of fun and entertainment. These include nightclubs, stores, mini-golf, a movie theater, karaoke bars, dining areas, an aquarium, boat rides, and much more. 

Amusement Parks and Games

Myrtle Beach boasts at least three unique amusement parks, making it an excellent vacation destination for families seeking adventure and thrills. There are numerous arcades and games, and the blend of lounging, swimming, and gaming creates a perfectly balanced vacation for children, teenagers, and young adults. 

Golf Courses

Myrtle Beach is an iconic dream destination for golfers as well since the area offers a remarkable assortment of golf courses. Approximately 80 championship courses line the Grand Strand, and Myrtle Beach hosts various annual golfing events – a brilliant opportunity for any avid golf lover. 

Atmosphere

Myrtle Beach is ideal for families seeking an action-packed, fun-filled beach vacation. There are great activities and entertainment possibilities to keep anyone occupied for the entire holiday – maybe even too much fun to cram into one trip. 

The area is bustling with activity and may be perfect for you if you enjoy lively environments. If you don’t like noise and business, don’t rule it out yet, as some more relaxed and private areas can be found in the northern and southern areas of Myrtle Beach.

Travel in the Area

Although Myrtle Beach is crowded due to its popularity, it is also quite hectic since it is home to an airport with regular commercial flights. But, this also makes it easy to reach. Myrtle Beach is a great destination if you want to settle in and get into the action as soon as possible. 

Travelers should be mindful of the compressed population in the area, especially during peak season since traffic can be fairly intense. Thankfully, it is not too tough to traverse the area once you’re there, and most attractions or amenities are within easy proximity. Some attractions are even within walking distance, meaning you may be able to skip the traffic jams quite often. 

Specific Vacation Plans

Age Range

Hilton Head is a safe option regardless of the age group, as there are plenty of enjoyable activities for young children, teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. The combination of perfect beaches, fantastic dining opportunities, family-friendly entertainment, and peaceful settings are exceptional for visitors of all ages. 

Myrtle Beach is a great choice for children, teenagers, young adults, and adults, as the area provides plenty of modern entertainment and activities. However, it may not be the best option if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. Myrtle Beach has high foot traffic and can be loud, depending on the accommodation location. 

Interests

Hilton Head would be a better option for travelers seeking tranquility within picturesque surroundings. There is plenty to do in Hilton Head, such as biking, golfing, playing tennis, and much more. Hilton Head is fairly upscale and is not as commercialized as Myrtle Beach, which may be a bonus if you prefer this sort of environment. 

Myrtle Beach would be the better option for families seeking a wide entertainment and activity selection, bright lights, and action. There is plenty to do, and it’ll be easy to stay entertained throughout the entire trip. It may be possible to find some tranquil moments, depending on where you’re staying. But, there is always something going on in the area, and it’s usually more exciting than soothing.

Budget

Concerning cost-effectiveness, both destinations will require a relatively hefty budget. But, visiting Hilton Head will probably cost more than Myrtle Beach. Most activities, accommodation, and dining experiences in Hilton Head are more upscale and pricier, whereas Myrtle Beach offers many options tailored to visitors from various backgrounds. 

Myrtle Beach has a ton of entertainment opportunities for vacationers on a tighter budget, with many accommodation options that won’t necessarily break the bank. The main reason why Myrtle Beach would also be costly is due to the activities since these will require a generous amount of spending cash throughout the trip.  

Duration of Vacation

When deciding between the two locations, you should consider how long your vacation will last. You will need to consider the available time along with the number of activities and necessary budget. It’s easy to stay entertained in Myrtle Beach, as there are endless activities for individuals of all ages. 

You could have a ton of fun in Hilton Head as well, as the area offers many unique experiences. However, you may get bored if you don’t enjoy these activities. Some people feel that peace and tranquility are much appreciated, but the vacation can become bland after some time. Of course, this is based on preference since many people can’t get enough of Hilton Head, irrespective of how long they stay there.

Accommodation and Dining

Hilton Head offers a wide selection of vacation homes and condos, with some stunning hotels near the beach. The area boasts hundreds of incredible restaurants, with some specializing in specific foods such as seafood or upscale cuisine. Many people enjoy the exquisite fine dining experiences that await them in Hilton Head, although it can be pricy. 

Myrtle Beach has many hotels, with some vacation homes and condos depending on the area. They have plenty of restaurants, but the food is typically more mainstream and popular amongst the masses – such as buffet shops and grill stops. However, this could be perfect if you’re planning to grab simple eats before getting back into the action. 

Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach? 

Both beach destinations boast some remarkably appealing attractions and opportunities, and the choice will rely on your personality, interests, and budget. 

Laidback Beach Vacation 

Hilton Head is ideal for families seeking a stress-free and peaceful experience. Having relaxed beach days is quite easy in this area, as there is plenty of room without much crowding. It’s a safe choice for just about any age group, with family-friendly surroundings, interesting nature-based activities, and much more. 

Action-Packed Beach Vacation 

Myrtle Beach would be a better choice for families seeking abundant entertainment and the freedom to choose between a large number of activities throughout the trip. There is more than enough fun and opportunity for children, teenagers, and adults, and you will still be able to get in some blissful beach days when the weather is ideal.

With so many amazing attractions, it’s understandably tough to choose between the two destinations. But, choosing the best vacation location doesn’t have to be complicated. Both areas are excellent for visitors of varying preferences – it all depends on what you enjoy and what you want most out of your vacation. 

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Elizabeth Ciobanu is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Family Vacation. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies.

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