The journey to Hilton Head begins, as most great journeys do, with a single footstep.
That’s how Larry Stoller wound up there. He’d been visiting the area off and on for some 30 years, but finally decided — five years ago — to make the leap and move there permanently.
“Hilton Head Island is a very special place,” observes Stoller, who now works for RE/MAX Island Realty. “The plantations, hotels, villas, restaurants, golf courses, tennis centers, boating facilities, entertainment, especially the beaches, are fantastic.
“I sometimes think to myself, why would anyone want to retire to Florida when they could be in Hilton Head?”
Indeed, the lure of the barrier island has drawn many. Located 45 miles north of Savannah, Georgia, and 90 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, the island offers easy accessibility. Hilton Head Airport is stationed five miles from most major resorts; larger carriers also fly into Savannah International Airport, located about an hour’s car ride away.

FOR RECREATION
Residents on the 12-mile-long and five-mile-wide island will point you first to the recreational finds, great golfing and terrific seafood restaurants. Popular island sports and activities include golf, tennis, fishing, scuba diving, parasailing, crabbing, horseback riding, dolphin-watching tours, swimming, water-skiing, even bocci.
 If you like to bicycle on the beach, you’ll find the sand on the southern and mid-island beaches is hard-packed, perfect for a sandy beach ride.
The semi-tropical weather of this coastal community—a haven for salt marshes, lagoons, magnolias and moss-draped forests—lends itself to relaxing, take-it-easy vacations. The average daytime temperature is 70 degrees, and the average ocean temp is 69 degrees. The highs can swing from the 60s in the winter months to the 90s in the heat of August.
The island’s 12 miles of sandy beaches intermix with lush hotel resorts, luxury villas, vacation rental homes and championship golf  courses. Beachfront accommodations abound (some 3,000 hotel rooms, 6,000 villas and 1,000 time-shares), more than enough to serve the 2.5 million visitors who make the annual trek here.

TOP HOTELS
Notable destinations include the Hilton Head Marriott Beach and Golf Resort, named recently by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the “Top 500 Hotels in the World.” Like many of the resorts here, the Marriott offers access to a grouping of signature golf courses.
Certainly, golf is what it’s all about on Hilton Head. From the legendary Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the annual MCI Heritage of Golf Tournament, to Eagle’s Pointe, Golden Bear, Hampton Hall, Hidden Cypress and Hilton Head National (designed by Gary Player), there’s enough challenging courses to satisfy the soul of any golfer. The Country Club of Hilton Head, located inside Hilton Head Plantation, is a Golf Digest four-star course, while Crescent Pointe is the only public links on the island designed by Arnold Palmer.
Prime golf season, thanks to the balmy weather, is considered March to May and September to November.
Finally, no journey to Hilton Head can be considered complete without taking a break from the golf course or beach to seriously shop. Head to some of the more than 200 boutiques, galleries and shops located on the island. Coligny Plaza, Harbour Town, The Mall at Shelter Cove and Main Street Village are just some of the many “must” stops for souvenir hunters.
Dining options abound as well. Locals favor Scott’s Fish Market, Alexander’s, Charley’s Crab, the Old Oyster Factory, and the Seafood Shack.

SECOND  HOMES
Hilton Head is more than a travel destination. Hundreds of Cincinnatians find themselves purchasing second homes or timeshares each year on the island, part of the Snow Bird exodus that Cincinnati sees during the frigid months of winter.
“The real estate opportunities are unbelievable right now,” observes Stoller of RE/MAX Island Realty, who is author of the new book Finding Agent Right for Your Best Real Estate Deal. There are “great bargains on all types of real estate (single family homes, villas, condos, town homes, etc.) because of the buyer’s market that we are in. They never really had a buyer’s market down here until now.”
From the gated communities and plantations, such as Sea Pines and Palmetto Dunes, to delightful coastal cottages, Hilton Head is fit for any lifestyle. With about 30,000 fulltime residents, the area has about 24,000 housing units, with 7,000 of those units devoted to seasonal, part-time occupancy, according to local Realtors.