Hilton Head tides generally range between six and eight feet in change every six hours. Our tides are caused by mainly by the gravitational pull of the moon combined with geological features and weather conditions. There are two high tides during each 24-hour period, and the time of each high tide advances about 50 minutes each day.
When the tide is high our beaches are nearly covered with the ocean and very little sand is exposed. It's best to visit the beach on low or falling tides.
Low tides occur twice per 24-hour period. During the low tide you will find wider beaches and lower water in the creeks, estuaries, and the Calibogue Sound. As the tide falls from it's highest point, a current is created in the channels that can reach a speed of over 2 knots.
Plan your fishing trips, kayak excursions, swimming, and other activities to take into consideration the movement of the tide. Be careful at low tides of sand bars and submerged obstacles as you navigate your boat around Hilton Head.
During the high tides dolphin pods may more likely be found in the deeper waters of the Calibogue Sound and along the ocean front. You may observe jumping, mating activities, and general play among the dolphins as multiple pods interact in larger bodies of water.Learn more
During the low tides dolphins take advantage of movement of schools of fish and lower water which compresses the fish together in a smaller space making them easier to catch. You may observe more dolphins in the creeks and esturaries, and some lucky folks may get to see dolphin strand feeding.Learn more
High tide can make Hilton Head beaches much more narrow. Because of the shallow sloping topography of our coastline, just a small change in water height can cover a large expanse of beach. When the tide rise the average of seven feet, nearly all of our beaches are covered. It's not a good time to enjoy sunning on the beach, but it might be a good time to surf.
When the low tide draws the ocean away from the beach, Hilton Head's beautiful broad beaches are exposed for everyone to enjoy. This is the time to sunbath, play Frisbee, take bike rides, and enjoy long walks on the beach. Be aware that the falling tide draws the water outward and to the south along Hilton Head's beaches. Pay attention when swimming to not get carried away with the tide.