A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Cumberland Island National Seashore vs. Hilton Head Island for Beaches, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a secluded, undeveloped, and untouched island. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the beaches and hiking.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful coastal town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. Other reasons to visit include food, beaches, and shopping.

Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance


Is there more to do in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Cumberland Island National Seashore than Hilton Head Island, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Cumberland Island National Seashore is better known for its museums, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Hilton Head Island is more popular for its food, resorts, and shopping. Hilton Head Island is more touristy than Cumberland Island National Seashore and is known for its long sandy beaches, many golf courses, popular tennis camps, and accessible bike trails. Cumberland Island National Seashore is well known for its pristine and undeveloped beaches, miles of hiking trails, and wild horses. Also, Cumberland Island National Seashore is famous for the Dungeness Ruins.

How is Cumberland Island National Seashore different from Hilton Head Island?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Hilton Head Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is not a good area for its museums and history. However, Hilton Head Island does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Cumberland Island National Seashore. There aren't any museums on the island, but on the mainland there's a visitor center as well as the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum.

Hilton Head Island does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a popular place for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Cumberland Island National Seashore is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Hilton Head Island. The island has many famous restaurants but reservations during the summer are a must. Restaurants can get very crowded during peak times. For some of the best restaurants head to Shelter Cove or Harbour Town. Popular local dishes include fried seafood and oysters.

Most people don't head to Cumberland Island National Seashore for a culinary experience, but it does have restaurants to choose from. There are no restaurants on the island, so you need to pack any food that you might need before you arrive.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Nightlife?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Neither Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island offer decent nightlife.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Cumberland Island National Seashore Stargazing is amazing on the island, but you're left to your own devices when it comes to evening entertainment options.

People don't go to Hilton Head Island for the nightlife. There are a few sports bars and comedy clubs, but nightlife isn't really a thing in Hilton Head. This is very much a family destination that shuts down with the sunset.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Resorts?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a great coastal town for its luxury resorts. However, Cumberland Island National Seashore is not a resort destination.

Hilton Head Island is known as a popular and fun resort destination. Most of the accommodation in the area is in the form of weekly condo rentals, which usually include a pool and outdoor space. Tennis and golf are also popular on the island so many resorts have facilities for each.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is not a resort destination.


Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Beaches?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is terrific for the beach. Also, Hilton Head Island is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its beaches.

With world-famous beaches, Cumberland Island National Seashore is a very popular vacation destination. There are 17 miles of pristine beaches along the island. You'll also find wild horses and miles of hiking trails. Swimming is popular, but do take note that there are no lifeguards on the island.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Hilton Head Island. The island has nice beaches that are popular with families. They are great for swimming during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. While some beaches may get a bit crowded during peak holidays, they're usually pretty relaxed and less crowded than many nearby beaches.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Hiking?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is terrific for its hiking trails. However, Hilton Head Island is not a hiking destination.

Many people visit Cumberland Island National Seashore specifically for its hiking. You'll find more than 50 miles of hiking trails on the island. They pass through a number of ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, and beaches. Most visitors come for the day and spend most of their time on the Southend of the island. This is where you'll find the highest concentration of hiking trails. Some of the most popular trails are Dungeness Roadways, River Trail, and Nightingale Trail.

Hilton Head Island is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a popular place for shopping. However, Cumberland Island National Seashore is not known for its shopping opportunities.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Hilton Head Island. The area has upscale shopping with designer names and local venues. Popular shopping areas include Shelter Cove Town Center and Harbor Town.

Cumberland Island National Seashore has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. There aren't any shops or stores on the island so plan accordingly.


Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Families?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is an amazing coastal town to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Cumberland Island National Seashore is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its family-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Hilton Head Island is a very family-friendly destination. This area is a popular family-friendly beach destination with a number of summer events for the whole family, peaceful beaches, and family-friendly restaurants throughout. Older kids will enjoy cycling around the island's many bike trails or attending a popular tennis camp.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a family-friendly place to visit. In addition to the hiking trails, coastline, and wildlife, the island also has junior ranger programs and educational experiences for kids.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Couples?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a very popular place for couples. Also, Hilton Head Island is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Cumberland Island National Seashore makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples will appreciate the pristine coastline, beautiful wildlife, and secluded hiking trails. Many people visit the island as a day trip, but it's also possible to stay at one of the island's campgrounds. For a truly romantic experience you could also stay at the Greyfield Inn.

Hilton Head Island is a nice destination for couples. While the area is most popular with families, it is a fun place to explore as a couple because of the many high end restaurants and the beautiful setting. Couples can rent bikes to explore or play a friendly game of tennis.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a very popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Hilton Head Island is not a backpacker-friendly destination.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. Backpackers appreciate the secluded and pristine atmosphere. There are miles of hiking trails as well as campgrounds on the island for those who want to stay overnight.

Hilton Head Island is not a backpacker-friendly destination.


Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Hilton Head Island is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Cumberland Island National Seashore. The only way to the island is by ferry. It leaves from the town of St. Marys and advanced reservations are recommended.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Hilton Head Island. You must have a car to get most places on the island, unless you bike. Rush hour during summer months can have intense traffic.

Is Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island a more walkable city?

Cumberland Island National Seashore
Hilton Head Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Hilton Head Island is lacking in good options for its walkability.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a somewhat walkable island. There are many hikes on the island, but the whole island is 18 miles long, making it difficult to walk in one day. Many visitors spend their time near the campgrounds where there's the highest concentration of hiking trails. This area is known as Sea Camp.

Hilton Head Island is generally not very walkable. You really need a car to get around, but for those who are motivated, there is a great network of bike trails. It's mostly used for recreational purposes though.

For even more information, also check out Is Cumberland Island National Seashore Worth Visiting? and Is Hilton Head Island Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Hilton Head Island or Cumberland Island National Seashore?

How long in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Both Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Hilton Head Island than in Cumberland Island National Seashore. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Cumberland Island National Seashore, and 5-7 days is enough time in Hilton Head Island.

Families should spend more time in Hilton Head Island than Cumberland Island National Seashore. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Hilton Head Island, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Cumberland Island National Seashore than Hilton Head Island. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Cumberland Island National Seashore that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cumberland Island National Seashore than Hilton Head Island if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Cumberland Island National Seashore.


  • How many days in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cumberland Island National Seashore 1-3 
    Hilton Head Island 5-7

One day in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the undeveloped destination of Cumberland Island National Seashore. This island offers something for everyone. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

In Hilton Head Island, you'll find food and shopping. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A weekend in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a popular place to visit. Visitors enjoy the when visiting the untouched island of Cumberland Island National Seashore. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Cumberland Island National Seashore has to offer.

Many people visit Hilton Head Island for a weekend. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Five days in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Many people enjoy the when visiting Cumberland Island National Seashore. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

Hilton Head Island is a popular place to visit. In Hilton Head Island, you'll find food and shopping. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

A week in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. It offers something for everyone. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

In Hilton Head Island, you'll find shopping and food. This is a popular place to visit for one week. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, and The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Hilton Head Island or Cumberland Island National Seashore?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cumberland Island National Seashore is $148, while the average daily cost in Hilton Head Island is $243. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $75
    Hilton Head Island $129
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $150
    Hilton Head Island $258
Compare Hotels in Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island

Looking for a hotel in Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cumberland Island National Seashore


Hotels in Hilton Head Island


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Hilton Head Island Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $59
    Hilton Head Island $34

Is it cheaper to fly into Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Prices for flights to both Hilton Head Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $38
    Hilton Head Island $60

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Hilton Head Island

For Hilton Head Island, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Dolphin Watching 3-Course Dinner Cruise: $70
  • Sunset Dinner Cruise: $106
  • Hilton Head Sunset Dinner Cruise: $106
  • Sunset Hibachi Dinner Cruise : $115

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $23
    Hilton Head Island $23

Tours and Activities in Hilton Head Island

For Hilton Head Island, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • #1 Historical Horse Drawn Carriage Tour: $35
  • 2-Hour Hilton Head Guided Kayak Nature Tour: $45
  • 90 Minute Hilton Head Dolphin Tour: $48
  • 90 Minute Hilton Head Dolphin and Nature Cruise: $45
  • 90 minute Hilton Head Sunset Dolphin Cruise: $55
  • Beaufort City Minibus Tour: $35
  • Beaufort’s #1 Horse & Carriage History Tour: $35
  • Daufuskie Island Daily Round Trip Ferry Tickets: $54
  • Daufuskie Island Guided History Tour from Hilton Head: $115
  • Daufuskie Island History and Artisian Tour: $95
  • Dolphin Experience Tour : $28
  • Hilton Head & Bluffton: Lowcountry Slingshot Tour: $299

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cumberland Island National Seashore $25
    Hilton Head Island $26


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island, we can see that Hilton Head Island is more expensive. And not only is Cumberland Island National Seashore much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cumberland Island National Seashore would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cumberland Island National Seashore and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Hilton Head Island would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Hilton Head Island than you might in Cumberland Island National Seashore.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cumberland Island National Seashore Expensive? and Is Hilton Head Island Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Cumberland Island National Seashore and Hilton Head Island. The beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Cumberland Island National Seashore this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Hilton Head Island for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Cumberland Island National Seashore is generally around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island. Daily temperatures in Cumberland Island National Seashore average around 82°F (28°C), and Hilton Head Island fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Hilton Head Island this time of the year. In Cumberland Island National Seashore, it's very sunny this time of the year. Cumberland Island National Seashore usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island during summer. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 286 hours of sunny skies, while Hilton Head Island receives 267 hours of full sun in the summer.

Hilton Head Island receives a lot of rain in the summer. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Cumberland Island National Seashore usually receives less rain than Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 7.9 inches (200 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cumberland Island National Seashore 82°F (28°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Cumberland Island National Seashore as well as Hilton Head Island. Many travelers come to Cumberland Island National Seashore for the hiking trails and the natural beauty of the area. Also, many visitors come to Hilton Head Island in the autumn for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island in the autumn. The daily temperature in Cumberland Island National Seashore averages around 70°F (21°C) in October, and Hilton Head Island fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Hilton Head Island. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Cumberland Island National Seashore this time of the year. In the autumn, Cumberland Island National Seashore often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 214 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Hilton Head Island receives 223 hours of full sun.

Cumberland Island National Seashore usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cumberland Island National Seashore 70°F (21°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island in the Winter?

Both Hilton Head Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Also, most visitors come to Hilton Head Island for the shopping scene and the cuisine during these months.

In the winter, Cumberland Island National Seashore is a little warmer than Hilton Head Island. Typically, the winter temperatures in Cumberland Island National Seashore in January average around 53°F (12°C), and Hilton Head Island averages at about 48°F (9°C).

Cumberland Island National Seashore usually receives more sunshine than Hilton Head Island during winter. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 191 hours of sunny skies, while Hilton Head Island receives 176 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Cumberland Island National Seashore usually receives more rain than Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 3.3 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cumberland Island National Seashore 53°F (12°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 48°F (9°C)

Should I visit Cumberland Island National Seashore or Hilton Head Island in the Spring?

Both Hilton Head Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore during the spring are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Cumberland Island National Seashore for the beaches and the natural beauty during these months. Furthermore, the spring months attract visitors to Hilton Head Island because of the beaches and the natural beauty.

In April, Cumberland Island National Seashore is generally around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island. Daily temperatures in Cumberland Island National Seashore average around 68°F (20°C), and Hilton Head Island fluctuates around 67°F (19°C).

In Hilton Head Island, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Cumberland Island National Seashore. In the spring, Cumberland Island National Seashore often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 285 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Hilton Head Island receives 275 hours of full sun.

Cumberland Island National Seashore usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Hilton Head Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cumberland Island National Seashore 68°F (20°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 67°F (19°C)

Typical Weather for Hilton Head Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore Hilton Head Island
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 53°F (12°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
Feb 56°F (13°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Mar 62°F (17°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 58°F (15°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
Apr 68°F (20°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 67°F (19°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
May 74°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 73°F (23°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Jun 80°F (27°C) 5.7 inches (146 mm) 80°F (26°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.9 inches (200 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 7.8 inches (199 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (164 mm)
Sep 79°F (26°C) 7.1 inches (180 mm) 77°F (25°C) 5.6 inches (141 mm)
Oct 70°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.9 inches (49 mm)
Dec 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)