Finding your way around an island on a bike is not always naturally intuitive, even though you’ll find Hilton Head Island—with its 55+ miles of public pathways and connections to at least 50 more miles—is quite easy to navigate. Inevitably, there will be questions, and here are some of our most frequently asked questions, with some specific to biking on Hilton Head Island and some a bit more general.

  1. Do I have to lock my bikes? Unfortunately, yes. Even though it seems you should be able to just rest your bike against a lovely live oak and take in some sun, it’s advisable to lock it, especially if you’re going to be away from it for a while. On the beach, it’s a tad more difficult to find something to lock it to, but it’s still a good practice to lock a couple of bikes together, just to be safe. Along the pathways and throughout the Island there are more than 10,000 bike rack slots at retail shops, public buildings and in public parks. If you’ve rented from a bike shop and your bike disappears, often a stolen bike fee will apply and that’s not a pleasant part of a vacation. Better to be safe than…well, you know.
  2. Can you ride the bikes on the beach? Yes. Hilton Head Island’s 12 miles of hard-packed beach are remarkably bike-able, particularly at low tide, and are conveniently accessible from several locations. Be careful not to ride them in the water because salt water is very corrosive – even the salty sand is going to do some damage. You can help mitigate damage by washing the bikes thoroughly after a ride. That helps preserve the life of a bike and protect you from incurring an additional fee if bikes come back coated with sand and salt.
  3. What is an Ally Cat? An Ally Cat is an adult bike with an extension for a child. The child does not have to pedal. Of course, ideally you’d like to reverse that, but patience…that comes later in life.
  4. What is a Tandem Bike? A tandem is a bike built for two adults. Both adults will need to pedal, unless the one in front isn’t paying attention.
  5. What is a Kiddie Kart? Bike shops can attach a kiddie kart to an adult bike, and the screened-in kart can hold up to 75 pounds. It can be used to carry a sleeping baby, beach supplies, coolers, two children or triplets, as long they don’t exceed 75 pounds. We’ve seen dogs in these as well, but it’s not recommended.
  6. What are the size limits for the Child Seat? 15 months to three years old and no more than 30 pounds. And don’t forget the seat belt!
  7. Do we have to wear bike helmets? Although South Carolina does not have a helmet law, we encourage everyone to wear helmets as a precaution. Sometimes it’s essential, but we recognize that sometimes it’s also just not practical. Dragging a helmet around on the beach can be a pain, and sometimes the colors clash with your bathing suit (horrors!), so even though a fall might result in a scrape, you’re probably okay without a helmet. Beach riding is a pretty leisurely pursuit and you shouldn’t be screaming across the beach anyway. Many bike shops provide bike helmets in their rental fees; others assess a nominal daily or weekly fee—just specify how many helmets you will need when you make your reservation.
  8. Do baskets come with the bike rentals? Most adult bikes include free baskets with each rental. Groceries are extra!
  9. How far in advance should I place my order? Bike rental companies encourage rental orders at least 72 hours in advance—especially in the summer when bikes are in hot demand. In the off-season, however, bikes are available on the day of use and on a day-to-day basis. Most bike rental companies check email requests throughout the day, or you can just call to place the order.
  10. What if I break down on my rental bike? Call your rental company and they will rescue you.
  11. What if I have problems with my rental bikes? Call your rental company and they will replace it as soon as they can.
  12. Do we have to be there for the delivery of the bikes? This is one of the greatest things about vacationing on an established, bicycle-friendly tourism destination island: It’s a concept called trust. Most rental companies leave your receipt in the door, in the bike basket or under the doormat. Rental bikes are automatically picked up on the day you check out.
  13. How do I know which bikes I rented? All rental companies have different markings and designations, which are easily identifiable.
  14. Can I ride my bike into Sea Pines Plantation? Sea Pines is accessible by car for a daily fee of $5, unless you’re a guest of a property owner. There is a $1 fee per bicycle attached to your car. Once in you can ride anywhere you’d like (within reason) but it’s best to stick to the pathways.
  15. Can I ride my bike into any other plantation? Yes and no. You can enter or leave any plantation if you are staying in that plantation. If you are not a renter you will need a guest pass from a homeowner or renter in that plantation.
  16. What are the bicycle rules on the island? Rule number one—just as with biking anywhere else—is follow the flow of traffic. Cars have the right away in plantations. Ride on the bike paths as often as you can; they’re safe, well-marked and connect to virtually everywhere. Don’t ride on roads that have bike paths adjacent to them. Maps are readily available from restaurants, shopping centers, at Town Hall, and online or in person at any Hilton Head bike rental company, the Chamber website or the Hilton Head Island town website.