Hilton Head places second in readers' choice vote of best beaches

tbarton@islandpacket.comApril 4, 2012 

  • The beaches also are eligible for an award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. For more information about its "Best Restored Beaches" competition, go to www.asbpa.org. Voting ends April 27.

From: Hilton Head Island

To: Florida and the Gulf Coast

Message: Eat my sand.

Hilton Head beat out the Sunshine State and others, including Hawaii, in an online contest to determine which has the best beach.

Online travel guide 10Best.com named Hilton Head runner-up in its readers' choice award.

The website cited Hilton Head's 12-miles of "expansive" and "peaceful" beaches that create "a combination of fun and relaxation."

Voting in the "10Besties" began in late January with 20 nominees in each of 10 categories ranging from best beaches and best foodie destinations, to best ski resorts and best museums.

Readers of the San Francisco-based travel recommendation site were asked to vote for their favorite locations in each category.

Outer Banks, N.C., took the prize, being voted No. 1 best beach in the nation, followed by Hilton Head, then Myrtle Beach.

"Travel destinations are competitive, so it's nice to see, but we're in good company," Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Charlie Clark said Wednesday.

"Awards like that are invaluable to marketing the island," Clark said. "It's a third-party endorsement validating what's special about your destination, and that resonates with travelers. They pay attention and have a plethora of choices. ... The more people saying these beaches are great can only be a positive for the island."

But keeping that beach looking good and staying a head of sand depletion isn't easy -- it requires planning, perseverance and lots of money.

Since 1990, the Town of Hilton Head has spent nearly $50 million placing 8.6 million cubic yards of sand along the shoreline. Crews recently finished pumping more than 1 million cubic yards of sand onto a 1-mile stretch at the island's heel.

The renourishment projects are paid for with $4 million to 5 million collected each year in taxes on short-term lodging.

"It's one more feather in your cap and (a) reminder that we do have a special beach and are exceedingly fortunate to have a dedicated funding source to do it that's not subject to the whims of federal or state government funding," town manager Steve Riley said.

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