Grey bending in front of the diamonds for shells.

We are all circadian-geared to enjoy evenings more than mornings, so when we arrived on Hilton Head Island at 9:00pm we walked around the cozy streets smelling the sulphur air and listening to the scratch of palm trees. The chill stripped off like a zipper suit and I took my elastic out to embrace the frizzy poof that is my crazy hair in humidity.

Flip flops out and boots away.


Holiday Inn Express on Hilton Head Island

When mid morning light cracked the blind, we put on swim suits and hit the breakfast lounge of the Hilton Head Holiday Inn Express that we booked through Priceline Express Deals at 40% off. It’s an old shell that’s been updated with white paint, white subway tiles, pickled planks, and huge canvasses printed with double exposed beach scenes in teal and orange. You can tell that some short while ago it was a typical aging beige beast with rust at the tub seams, but now it’s been ripped out, caulked, spackled, and revived with new carpet, fresh white linens, and modern furniture. No large, stuffy, burgundy-brown dressers that no one uses for a one-night stay. Instead, a low, long suitcase rack and a matching long desk in a light driftwood finish, with two seats, bright lighting, and a charging station. There were also two modern IKEA-like chairs and matching round side tables. Makes sense these days. The Holiday Inn Express fit the bill, especially for the amazing price we paid.

Caligny Beach 

Hilton Head has a lot of cash. You can see it in the aesthetically pleasing municipal management. Coligny Beach isn’t a paint-peeled boardwalk cutting through sea grape to the surf (though I’m fond of that). Instead, there’s a wide, manicured entrance (because probably at some point a lot of natural vegetation was ripped out). There’s beachy-hued change stalls done in cedar shake and shutters (with dock cleats for door handles), outdoor showers, restrooms that look like beach cottages, trellises hung with tropicals, fountains, and a wide plank walkway lined with palm trees stretching to the beach. And there’s free wifi. Beyond this pretty landscaped gateway, there’s miles of sunshine, sand, and the levity that comes with all that.

Caligny Beach on Hilton Head Island.

My kids dove in. The water was freezing. They were the only humans filling the waves with screeches of pure freaked-out joy. “You are obviously Canadian,” said one family as they walked by. There was no denying it. I proudly laughed and nodded. After a couple of hours of wave jumping, warm wind on our faces, and a focussed (but fruitless) search for shells, we turned a page and headed for the highway that leads to Kissimmee.

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