One ought not go to Hilton Head Island island if one has no intention of going to the beach. We found two different ways to enjoy it.

Option A
We stayed at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, part of their Vacation Club time share thingy. It’s a lovely place, and while the resort doesn’t sit directly on the beach, they also have a beach house with a pool and snack bar. We rented bikes for the length of our stay, and we packed up our stuff one morning and rode the 1.5 or so miles to the beach house. On the beach, we rented some deluxe chairs and an umbrella, already set up. We got there just before high tide and swam right away in ridiculously warm water with some fun swells and waves.


Then we sat in our chairs and read or did crossword puzzles or napped or watched all the silly things other beachgoers were doing. I had, of course, slathered myself up with sunscreen before we left our room. No ordinary sunscreen, either: after my various difficulties with being in the sun and hives, I did my research and bought some superprotective zinc oxide stuff. I didn’t bring it with me to the beach, though; I just tossed a different tube in my bag as we headed out the door. I reapplied just after an early lunch, and then sat under our umbrella for a while.


And then I started itching. I broke out in hives everywhere the sun hit the second application of sunscreen. As it turns out, I hadn’t looked closely at the second tube of sunscreen before I put it on, and it contained oxybenzone, a common active ingredient in sunscreens that can cause a rare photoallergenic reaction. Not only did I itch horribly, but I think the reaction caused the sunscreen not to be effective because I ended up with a pretty uncomfortable sunburn. And the bike ride home kinda sucked.

Option B
We got up very early in the morning with hopes of catching a sunrise on the beach. The light was just starting to show when we pulled up at the beach house in our car. We walked out onto the beach — which was pretty well deserted — and found these fascinating formations in the sand left by the tide ebbing in the wee hours of the morning.



(Mike’s great with the closeups, huh.)

The tower in that last photo was probably only about an inch and a half high, and was made by a ghost crab, these tiny little guys that tunnel way down in the sand during the day to protect themselves from predators, and then come up to the beach at night to feed on insects. At low tide, you can see thousands of little penny-sized holes all over the beach, with bubbles of air coming up from them — it’s pretty strange. Anyway, as the crabs make their tunnels, they use some sort of secretion to harden the walls and keep from being trapped by a cave-in. When the tide washed out this particular channel overnight, it took the loose sand with it, but left the stronger tunnel in place, which leads to this strange miniature landscape.

We were probably there on the beach for about an hour or so, watching the incoming tide erase the channel it had made earlier in the morning, along with the seagulls and pelicans, who were doing some morning feeding. It was a bit overcast off shore, but I did manage to get a sort-of sunrise photo.


Can you guess which beach enjoyment option we chose for our last day?