A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Panama City vs. Hilton Head Island for Families, Resorts, Beaches, and Couples

Should you visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Panama City or Hilton Head Island, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Panama City

Panama City is a cosmopolitan, fun-filled, and active beach town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the beaches, shopping, and nightlife.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a beautiful, resort-filled, and family-friendly coastal town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the beaches, shopping, and food.

Panama City and Hilton Head Island: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Panama City. Although Panama City and Hilton Head Island are both popular with visitors, Panama City has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Panama City is more popular for its nightlife and music, while Hilton Head Island is known for its resorts. Panama City is more touristy than Hilton Head Island and is popular for its watersports, sandy beaches, and year-round beach weather. It is also home to Pier Park. Hilton Head Island is popular for its long sandy beaches, many golf courses, popular tennis camps, and accessible bike trails.

How is Panama City 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 Panama City. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is the Food Better in Panama City or Hilton Head Island? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Panama City and Hilton Head Island can be difficult as they are each good in their own way.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Panama City. There are many waterfront restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood. Head to town for a charming atmosphere or grab a bite at a casual eatery. Fried seafood is popular when eating out but you'll also find plenty of options for land-lovers. Most restaurants also have kid-friendly menus.

Hilton Head Island is becoming an appealing option for foodies. 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.


Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Nightlife?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Panama City is a very popular place for its evening party scene. However, Hilton Head Island is lacking in good options for nightlife.

Panama City has a large number of nightlife venues. The nightlife is particular crazy during spring break, when the town fills with students. Head to the famous Club La Vela or Spinnaker for music and fun at night.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Hilton Head Island. 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 Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Music?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Panama City is very good for its music scene. However, Hilton Head Island is not a live music destination.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in Panama City. A popular way to enjoy music in the area is to find a restaurant with a lounge where local musicians perform.

Hilton Head Island is not a live music destination.

Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Resorts?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a great destination for its resorts. Also, Panama City is still popular, but not quite as popular for its luxury resorts.

Hilton Head Island is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. 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.

Panama City has a few great resort options. Most people stay in condos that are VRBO's or Airbnbs, but there are resorts in the area as well.


Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Beaches?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Both Panama City and Hilton Head Island have excellent beaches worth visiting.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Panama City. With miles of long white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, this area's beaches offer a beautiful escape. Head to the area's state parks for the most natural experience. These include St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park. A day trip to Shell Island is also popular.

The beaches at Hilton Head Island attract visitors from all over. 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 the Shopping Better in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Shopping is a popular activity in both Hilton Head Island and Panama City.

Panama City offers some nice shopping areas. There are a number of malls and shopping centers in the area.

Hilton Head Island has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The area has upscale shopping with designer names and local venues. Popular shopping areas include Shelter Cove Town Center and Harbor Town.

Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Families?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Panama City and Hilton Head Island are both terrific destinations for the whole family.

Panama City is an amazing family-friendly beach town to visit. This area has large sandy beaches, waterparks, amusement parks, and marine parks. Kids will enjoy playing around at WonderWorks, cooling off at Shipwreck Island Waterpark, and learning about marine life at Gulf World Marine Park. There are also many watersports and water activities that are fun for the whole family.

Hilton Head Island is an extremely popular beach town to visit for families. 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.


Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Couples?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

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

Panama City makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The beautiful beaches and romantic restaurants make for a great romantic getaway. This is the perfect place to take sunset walks along the beach and sample freshly caught local seafood.

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 Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Students?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Panama City is a very popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Hilton Head Island is not popular with students.

Panama City is very popular with students. It's not the spring break destination that it once was, but you'll still find students hanging out around the spring holidays.

Hilton Head Island is not popular with students.

Is Panama City or Hilton Head Island Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Panama City 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 Panama City. Most people need a car in Panama City but there is a trolley service that connects major tourist areas.

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 Panama City or Hilton Head Island a more walkable city?

Panama City
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is a coastal town with a few options for its high level of walkability. However, Panama City is a beach town with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

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.

Panama City is not a very walkable beach town. There's often construction and the streets aren't designed for pedestrians.

For even more information, also check out Is Panama City Worth Visiting? and Is Hilton Head Island Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Hilton Head Island or Panama City?

How long in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Both Panama City and Hilton Head Island have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Panama City has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Panama City than Hilton Head Island. In general, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Panama City, and 5-7 days is enough time in Hilton Head Island.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Panama City 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 Panama City.


  • How many days in Panama City or Hilton Head Island? Ideal Length of Stay
    Panama City 3-7 
    Hilton Head Island 5-7

One day in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the active destination of Panama City. This beach town offers something for everyone. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the family-friendly coastal town of Hilton Head Island. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Panama City is a popular place to visit. Visitors enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the active beach town of Panama City. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and food when visiting the relaxing destination of Hilton Head Island. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This coastal town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Visitors enjoy the live music and food when visiting the destination of Panama City. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Most people come for the beaches. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Panama City has to offer.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the family-friendly coastal town of Hilton Head Island. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Panama City is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this beach town makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. It offers something for everyone. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and food when visiting the destination of Hilton Head Island. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this coastal town.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Hilton Head Island or Panama City?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Panama City is $224, 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 Panama City and Hilton Head Island in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Panama City $128
    Hilton Head Island $129
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Panama City $256
    Hilton Head Island $258
Compare Hotels in Panama City and Hilton Head Island

Looking for a hotel in Panama City 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 Panama City


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: Panama City Hotel Prices and Hilton Head Island Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Panama City $48
    Hilton Head Island $34

Is it cheaper to fly into Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Prices for flights to both Hilton Head Island and Panama City 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
    Panama City $66
    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:

  • Hilton Head Sunset Dinner Cruise: $106
  • Sunset Hibachi Dinner Cruise : $115

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Panama City $19
    Hilton Head Island $23

Tours and Activities in Panama City

Here are a few actual costs in Panama City for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 2 Hour Dolphin Sightseeing Tour with Capt. Zach's Adventures: $73
  • 2 Hour Dolphin and Sightseeing Tour in Panama City Beach, Fl: $72
  • 2 Hour Private Dolphin and Sightseeing Tour in Shell Island: $65
  • 3 Hour Cruise, Snorkel, Swim/float Sandbar - tandem tiki option: $80
  • 90 min Cruise at Lower Grand Lagoon : $54
  • Beach Sunset and Lagoon Skyline Tour: $75
  • Beginner Scuba Diving Tour PCB Free Videos: $129
  • Beginner Scuba Diving Tour with Videos-PCB: $129
  • Catamaran Snorkel and Dolphin Watch Tour in Panama City Beach: $60
  • Cypress Springs Eco Adventure: $110
  • Discover Snorkeling Tour in Panama City: $65
  • Dolphin Sightseeing Tour on The Footloose Catamaran from Panama City Beach: $35

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:

  • Ticket/Civil War Era on Hilton Head Island Talk: $12
  • Hilton Head Honey Horn Admission with Guided Tour: $12
  • Tybee Island Ghost Tour: $30
  • Historic Tour of Tybee Island: $30
  • History and Movie Tour of Beaufort by Golf Cart: $32
  • Beaufort City Minibus Tour: $35
  • #1 Historical Horse Drawn Carriage Tour: $35
  • Kids Crabbing Adventure from Hilton Head Island: $39
  • Tybee Island Bike Tour: $39
  • Sunset Cruise on Hilton Head Island: $40
  • Hilton Head Island Dolphin Boat Cruise: $40
  • Hilton Head Pirate Ship Adventure Cruise aboard the Black Sparrow: $41

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Panama City $56
    Hilton Head Island $26


When comparing the travel costs between Panama City and Hilton Head Island, we can see that Hilton Head Island is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Panama City has a larger population, and is about 9% larger than the population of Hilton Head Island. When comparing the sizes of Panama City and Hilton Head Island, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Panama City as well as Hilton Head Island. Most visitors come to Panama City for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Hilton Head Island because of the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Panama City is around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island. Typically, the summer temperatures in Panama City in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Hilton Head Island averages at about 82°F (28°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 Panama City this time of the year. In the summer, Panama City often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 283 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Hilton Head Island receives 267 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Hilton Head Island. Panama City receives a lot of rain in the summer. Panama City usually gets less rain in July than Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 7.9 inches (200 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Panama City 82°F (28°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island in the Autumn?

Both Hilton Head Island and Panama City are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Panama City because of the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Hilton Head Island this time of year.

In October, Panama City is generally around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island. Daily temperatures in Panama City average around 71°F (22°C), and Hilton Head Island fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

It's quite sunny in Hilton Head Island. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Panama City. Panama City usually receives more sunshine than Hilton Head Island during autumn. Panama City gets 256 hours of sunny skies, while Hilton Head Island receives 223 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Panama City usually receives more rain than Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Panama City 71°F (22°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island in the Winter?

Both Hilton Head Island and Panama City during the winter are popular places to visit. The shopping scene and the cuisine are the main draw to Panama City this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Hilton Head Island for the shopping scene and the cuisine.

Panama City is a little warmer than Hilton Head Island in the winter. The daily temperature in Panama City averages around 52°F (11°C) in January, and Hilton Head Island fluctuates around 48°F (9°C).

In the winter, Panama City often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 185 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Hilton Head Island receives 176 hours of full sun.

Panama City usually gets more rain in January than Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Panama City 52°F (11°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 48°F (9°C)

Should I visit Panama City or Hilton Head Island in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Panama City and Hilton Head Island. Many travelers come to Panama City for the beaches and the natural beauty. Furthermore, many visitors come to Hilton Head Island in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Panama City is around the same temperature as Hilton Head Island. Typically, the spring temperatures in Panama City in April average around 68°F (20°C), and Hilton Head Island averages at about 67°F (19°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Hilton Head Island this time of the year. In Panama City, it's very sunny this time of the year. Panama City usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Hilton Head Island during spring. Panama City gets 295 hours of sunny skies, while Hilton Head Island receives 275 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Panama City usually receives around the same amount of rain as Hilton Head Island. Panama City gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Hilton Head Island receives 2.9 inches (74 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Panama City 68°F (20°C) 
    Hilton Head Island 67°F (19°C)

Typical Weather for Hilton Head Island and Panama City

Panama City Hilton Head Island
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 52°F (11°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 48°F (9°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
Feb 55°F (13°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Mar 61°F (16°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm) 58°F (15°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
Apr 68°F (20°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 67°F (19°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)
May 74°F (24°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 73°F (23°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Jun 80°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 80°F (26°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 7.3 inches (184 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.9 inches (200 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 7.5 inches (191 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (164 mm)
Sep 79°F (26°C) 7.5 inches (192 mm) 77°F (25°C) 5.6 inches (141 mm)
Oct 71°F (22°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Nov 63°F (17°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.9 inches (49 mm)
Dec 56°F (13°C) 4.1 inches (104 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)