Stop that! The 9 most annoying things Hilton Head tourists and locals do at the beach

Visiting the Lowcountry? 8 beach laws every Hilton Head Island tourist should know

Beach laws on Hilton Head Island, including those protecting wildlife such as sea turtles and sand dollars, and laws prohibiting things like fireworks and alcohol.
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Beach laws on Hilton Head Island, including those protecting wildlife such as sea turtles and sand dollars, and laws prohibiting things like fireworks and alcohol.

I know what you’re thinking: How can you possibly get annoyed at the beach?

And I get it.

The beach is basically the chillest place on earth where problems and anxiety and all those little things that bug you should disappear into the salt water, right?

But when you care about keeping Hilton Head beaches sparkling, clean, and safe for both people and wildlife, it gets harder to enjoy the beach during tourist season when it’s so cluttered.

I find myself wanting to yell at people for things I’m sure they have no idea are annoying, harmful, or just disrespectful in my hyper-aware eyes, particularly in the summer.

Here are 9 things people on Hilton Head need to stop doing to make the island a better, happier place.

Please stop leaving your beach tents out all night.

As a pale ginger, I get why beach tents are a total game-changer (hooray for no sunburns!).

Other cities in South Carolina have banned beach tents because people leave them out overnight and they fly all over the place, causing all sorts of trouble. And I would HATE for that to happen on Hilton Head (oh, the sunburns!) , so let’s save everyone the trouble and pick the tents up.

Speaking of, keep those umbrellas under control.

You might laugh, but flying umbrellas are no joke and can seriously hurt someone. Two years ago, a woman died from being impaled by a flying umbrella on Virginia Beach. If you can’t securely prop up your umbrella, please don’t leave it alone while you frolic in the ocean.

Fill in those big holes your kids dug, please. And tear down those sandcastles, too.

I get it: kids love playing in the sand. They love digging holes and they love building sandcastles (as some adults do too). But holes in the sand and sandcastles make it hard for baby sea turtles to make their trip to the ocean after they hatch. The holes literally might as well be sea turtle graves, so remember that. Plus, as a bicyclist, I’ve accidentally cruised into a couple holes on the beach (inspiring me to write this column).

Flashlights off, seriously.

See how cute that little guy is? Artificial light confuses sea turtles and puts them in danger. So turn off those flashlights between May and October on the beach or buy a red flashlight that is sea-turtle-proof.

Clean. Up. Those. Beer. Bottles.

Drinking is technically banned on Hilton Head beaches and you can get a ticket for it. However, it’s a rare circumstance. The rule is really “don’t be a huge jerk about it.” Which entails leaving a pile of beer cans where you got your beach party on. Don’t do that.

Put DOWN the sand dollar, kid. And just leave the wildlife alone.

People don’t get that sand dollars are actual living creatures that will die if you take them out of their habitat. You can tell if a sand dollar is alive by its reddish or brownish color and tiny spines on its skeleton, which help the little guys move.

Don’t bring a living sand dollar home — it will die. It’s illegal and could cost you $500 fine. It’s only legal to take them if they are completely dead (almost white in color with no texture to its skeleton.

My eyes! Don’t shake your towel out right next to people.

This is a simple fix. Look around you before you shake your towel out. If there are people around you, walk 100 feet where you won’t shake sand in someone else’s eyes.

Quit smoking on the beach.

Ah, the beach. The smell of salt water and…. Is that a cigarette I smell?

Not only is this annoying, but cigarette butts litter the beach more than any other item of trash. If you must smoke, please clean it up and smoke a solid distance from people.

Stop fishing where there are humans swimming.

“There is no doubt that fishing on the beach attracts sharks,” according to shark bite expert George Burgess at the International Shark Attack File.

And yet, every day, you can find fishermen lining the beaches right near swimmers. It’s illegal to bait or fish for shark from the beach, or anywhere 400 yards from the shore. Fishing in designated swimming areas on the beaches is banned from April- Sept. from sun up to sundown. So let’s cut down on the shark bites and stop fishing near folks.

Happy beach season, folks!