As one of the Southeast's most popular beach destinations, Hilton Head is not likely to disappoint those seeking a casual day in the sun close to urban comforts. Nature can be in short supply here, however. There is not much intact forest left on Hilton Head, and no beach is beyond sight of buildings. A short distance from Hilton Head, though, is Pinckney Island, which is preserved in a more natural state as part of a national wildlife refuge.
This is the place to go for hiking, birdwatching, alligator spotting, or just enjoying a short stroll in the woods. White Point is a small beach on Pinckney, which is mostly surrounded by marsh except for this spit of sand. The trip to White Point is really a tour of the whole length of this island forest, and the journey is as much a part of the experience as the beach itself. Take time to enjoy sights, sounds, and solitude along the way.
When you get to the beach, you may have to scramble over or under some downed trees to reach the sand. Wave erosion and storm swells have eroded the beach and caused it to partially recede into the forest, leaving uprooted trees and woody debris on the beach. This takes up some of the soft-sand real estate, but it makes for more interesting and wilder scenery.
You are likely to find this spot all to yourself, but that's because it takes some work to get there. The trip is 7.8 miles round trip, and though the hike is easy, the distance is enough to deter most. You can also take a bicycle, but the last three-quarters of a mile is rough riding on sand and somewhat overgrown trail. The rest of the route is on wide paths that are either mowed grass or gravel, but the route does cross the mud of the salt marsh in a few short sections, so bring shoes that can get wet. Along the way you will pass several ponds and fields, but most of the time the route will be under shade of the maritime canopy. Bring plenty of bug spray, sun protection, water, and food for the day. There are no services in the wildlife refuge, and it is open during daylight hours only (no camping). Pets are not allowed.