Welcome to the town of Hilton Head; which really isn’t a town at all. Sure, there’s a Main Street, but there isn’t much “main” about it; other than that it’s on the “main” part of the island. Oh, it has a few stores, shops and restaurants, and even a theatre and a bowling alley, but it’s not near anything that one would usually expect to find near (or on) a “Main Street”. The “town” of Hilton Head really doesn’t have a “Town Hall” either, but it does have a “government center” that’s really not near anything; especially “Main Street” or “Down Town”. In fact, if you were to go “Downtown” you would find that there really anything “Downtown”, but that’s mostly because there really isn’t any “Downtown”. The closest thing Hilton Head has to a “Downtown” is a little spot, at the end of Pope Avenue, called “Coligny Plaza”.
Although Coligny Plaza isn’t really “Downtown”, most islanders and tourist agree it is pretty much the center attraction on the island, partly because of the sixty-four shops and restaurants there and partly because it is a stones throw from the island’s most popular beach. (Although most folks call that “Coligny Beach” it’s not really Coligny Beach at all; at least no more so than Coligny Plaza is downtown, but that’s a whole different subject.) The thing is that, whether your on Hilton Head (Or is it “in” Hilton Head?) for a day, a week or a month; you will undoubtedly, at some point in your visit, find yourself at (or “in”) Coligny Plaza. Even if you’re not headed for the beach, you’ll find yourself at Coligny; just because there are so many different and unique things to do, see, eat, and buy.
The plaza itself covers several acres, on which sits several buildings, with quaint covered sidewalks, a large common area and a lovely little duck pond, which actually hasn’t had any ducks in it for years, but we still call it the “duck pond”, likely for lack of a better name. The duck pond does, however, have a charming fountain, a stainless sculpture of the only nude you’ll see on Hilton Head and a quaint little footbridge; that leads to more shops and eateries on the other side. All of this is dissected by a scattering of parking lots; which offers tourist more entertainment, in the way of watching other tourist try and remember where they parked their cars. There is also a mysterious looking, dark, covered alley, that helps divide the shopping area and leads to a delightful, one screen, “art house” theatre (there are free family movies there every Saturday morning during “the season”).
Coligny Plaza really is a fun place. It has free puppet shows, a magic show a, live “Mermaid Review”, a Calypso Band, a Gullah Show and even Elvis, all on various nights of the week. It has several unique restaurants where you can eat anything from Pasta (in fact one is called: “Just Pasta”), to Rueben Sandwiches, to a good old fashioned burger and fries, steamed shrimp and raw oysters; there is even one restaurant that will serve you a “kitchen sink”, in a porcelain “skillet”. You can eat inside or outside, near the music or in a quiet corner. If your hot or thirsty you can get an Italian Ice, hand dipped or soft serve ice cream, or even Daiquiris; by the gallon or five gallon container. Coligny has a hardware store where you can by anything from Hermit Crabs to Nails and a Salon where you can have nails clipped and painted. It has a pet shop (with gourmet dog treats), a rock shop, a shell shop, a surf shop, a sunglass shop, a kite shop, a nature store and clothing galore! At Coligny Plaza you can have your hair cut, styled, “permed”, dyed, twisted, curled, braided or even corn-rowed or “fro’ed”. You can buy a pair of flip flops, a bottle of suntan lotion, an air brush tattoo, or rent a bicycle; built for one or two! You can find rubber rafts and rings and dinosaurs to float on, beach chairs to sit in and umbrellas to shade you from the sun. You can even tool around in one of those neat little four passenger, four wheel bikes that reminds you of a Flintstone Mobile. You can…………………well, it is “Downtown”!