Liz Farrell

The 3 worst tourists Hilton Head encountered this past summer | Opinion

I like tourists a lot.

That isn’t sarcasm.

I like those goofy suitcase containers on the tops of their SUVs; I like the knotty clusters of family bikes on the backs.

I especially like the “We’re almost there!!” fumes that come right out of their tail pipes when they’re crawling along U.S. 278 on Saturday afternoons during the last stretch of their travels.

The air reeks of all the potential fun these strangers plan to have.

I’m sensing I have to remind you — already?! — this isn’t sarcasm.

I like that tourists eat ice cream with reckless abandon because it’s vacation and none of those calories count for them.

I like that they accidentally get sunburned in crazy patterns because it reminds me to apply my own SPF more diligently.

I like that even when they look utterly exhausted at the end of the day, they will tough out a long wait at one of our must-eat-there-or-you-weren’t-here restaurants because the outfit they’re wearing — the one that sort of matches the rest of their family’s clothes in color scheme and fashion genre — was packed very specifically for this night. So this night is happening. There will be a photo of it on Instagram. Now go stand with Grandma. She’s paying for this.

Mostly, I like that they like us.

Maybe not us as individuals. I can’t account for your interactions with them, though I’m sure you’re lovely.

I mean, “us” as in “here.”

Their presence affirms that we have chosen one of the best places in the country to live year-round.

We are forever in paradise (albeit one with a smoky mountain of trash that is currently a threat to one of our best rivers because of greed, political inaction and bureaucratic ineptitude; sorry about that. It’s hard not to get angry about it).

We live in an area that people find SO SPECIAL that they will eagerly drive great distances to get here, even just for a week, year after year after year.

And yet.

Aaaaaaand yet.

Some of these tourists seem to forget this fact about themselves.

I hate to talk behind people’s backs — ha, that’s not true — but sometimes, after your wonderful house guests have left, you absolutely need to vent about how they mysteriously got cocktail sauce all over your bed sheets.

I certainly don’t want to malign the entire contingency of Hilton Head tourists, though, so let’s take a look at the worst ones from this summer, shall we?

The Hole-Diggers

The Town of Hilton Head Island is about to have a rule pertaining to shovels and holes on the beach that will limit shovels to 14 inches and holes to a cubic foot.

Think about that for a second.

This problem of people digging deep and yawning holes on the beach and not refilling them with sand before they leave for the day — so that unsuspecting speed-walkers and ovulating turtles have to be rescued by rappelling adrenaline junkies days later — has gotten so bad that the following conversation is now going to occur.

You: “How long is your shovel?”

Your summer guest: “Uh ... what?”

You: “And your plans to dig on the beach? How would you describe those plans? For instance, would they fit in the category of ‘an enthusiastic dog who was a very bad boy in the yard today’? A ‘coal-mining Irish immigrant in West Virginia who is working harder than anyone else so no one will send him back’? Or is it more like a ‘19th century doctor desperate for a cadaver so he can learn more about the gallbladder and change modern medicine’?”

Your summer guest: “............. what?”

You: “Listen, this is awkward, but do you think you’ll be able to keep your hole to a prudent and, I cannot stress this enough, LEGALLY APPROPRIATE 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches?”

Your summer guest: “....................... Me? Oh. Um, I was just going to sit in a chair and read.”

You: (Glancing at your guest’s giant beach bags, his wagon filled with toys and snacks, his rolling cooler, tailgating tent, cornhole boards and Bluetooth speaker, you stare deeply into his eyes) “OKKKKKKKKKKK. I want to believe you but you have to understand ....”

Your summer guest: (Reaches into a bag and pulls out a 30-inch shovel with the pricetag still on it) “I don’t know why I want to dig holes so much, man. But I do. I really want to dig holes! (sobs)”

Violators of these new rules, by the way, will risk the brutal punishment of receiving a town ticket from an invisible ticket-giver because let’s face it, tourists will still be able to bring a backhoe onto the beach, guzzle from a keg and dig to the Earth’s core while chumming for sharks.

The Trash-Leavers

Oh my God. These people.

There are some straight-up litterers visiting this town.

There are the smokers who leave butts on the beach; the people who pretend not to see what their dog is doing in the dunes; the diaper-changers who oopsy! left a little package behind; the broken tent owners; the broken chair owners; the broken flip-flop owners; the oh no! the empty potato chip bag is blowing away! I’m trying to run to get it but (stands in place) oh well; the fireworks jerks; the drinkers who reason that one day their individual serving of rose bottle will turn into sea glass!; the ... I think you get the picture.

Why are these people allowed over the bridges?

Why aren’t they taking loyalty pledges to us before crossing the Moss Creek border?

And why aren’t we doing anything to them in retaliation?

Why aren’t we surrounding their rentals and filling their cars with trash from our homes and offices?

I’m willing to start a vigilante group that does this, by the way.

If you want in, shhhhhhhhhhh.

The Gator-Feeders

Hilton Head is not a life-sized game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, you maniacs.

I know it’s probably so much fun to throw a snack into a giant toothy animal’s mouth (is it though???) ... but stop feeding our alligators.


When you get them hooked on snacks they come to us for more after you’re gone.

One of these alligators killed a woman in Sea Pines last year!

Another one of them maimed a Sun City Hilton Head resident this past month!

I know tourists probably think we have this handled, but the whole “A fed gator is a dead gator” thing? That’s just the slogan we chose because “We move them when they’re naughty” doesn’t rhyme.

Every friend that an alligator has ever had has gone extinct.

They’re lonely.

They’re grumpy.

They have existed for a million years with a brain the size of a chicken nugget.

Which means they can get their own food.

Even if they have to wait a really long time for a table.