If you live in the Lowcountry year-round, chances are your friends who live elsewhere are jealous. This area’s beautiful beaches, worldclass resorts and wide selection of restaurants, shopping and activities make Hilton Head Island, Daufuskie Island and Bluffton a top vacation destination and a great place to call home. For those who decide to stay year-round, the Lowcountry’s many planned communities offer beautiful homes and unparalleled amenities. 

COALITIONS AIM TO CONVINCE BUSINESSES, CONSUMERS TO SKIP THE STRAW

This summer, two campaigns in Beaufort County have targeted a common enemy: the plastic straw.

And though both local initiatives are focusing on convincing area businesses and residents to voluntarily ditch the straws, the movement to ban the drinking devices and other plastics has gained momentum recently: A Facebook video showing researchers removing a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle in Costa Rica went viral; Seattle recently became the first U.S. city to ban single-use plastic straws and cutlery; and California and Hawaii are contemplating statewide regulations. The national movement is using the hashtag #stopsucking.

ARTS RENAISSANCE ENLIVENS THIS S.C. TOWN

Recently awarded USA Today’s “Best Small Town Cultural Scene,” this Southern gem is well worth a visit. From its Main Street boutiques, exhibits of works by nationally recognized artists, and secret gardens tucked into hidden spots, it’s clear this is a town undergoing a remarkable renaissance. 

TAKE A STROLL THROUGH BLUFFTON’S HISTORY

Bluffton is the last remaining example of a Lowcountry antebellum planters summer colony. And since cultural tourism is a growing trend and studies show those who are interested in history spend more money on their vacations than traditional tourists, local leaders are happy to woo them.

But it wouldn’t hurt locals to learn about where they live, either.

TIME AND TIDE HAVE BURIED CRUCIAL CHAPTERS IN OUR ISLAND’S HISTORY. TODAY, THEY ARE BEING REVEALED ONE SHOVEL OF DIRT AT A TIME.

It was only a matter of time.

When their geophysical instruments started pinging, Matthew Sanger and his team from Binghamton University knew they’d found something at Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery.

The Magnificent 7

FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE, the sand shore runs 20 miles along the seaside on Hilton Head Island. “The beach,” as we call the flat, surf and tide-washed, pearl-colored, shell-strewn, stream-riddled, shorebird refuge and place of play for people on Hilton Head Island, is not one place. It is a seamless strand of seven beaches stitched together on the outskirts of this foot-shaped isle. Each shoreline is sculpted by distinct natural forces, and significantly altered by human history. Every beach holds its own secrets, including buried treasures of sorts. You can unearth these secrets — but you need to know where to look. 

HILTON HEAD VOTERS HAVE A DIVERSE CHOICE OF CANDIDATES FOR NEXT MAYOR

Hilton Head Island residents will choose among some familiar names — and some new ones, including a self-described Holocaust revisionist — when they head to the polls Nov. 6 to select the town’s next mayor. And all the candidates are touting positions that in one way or another focus on the island’s future.

HILTON HEAD MAYOR DAVID BENNETT REFLECTS ON TERM

Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett recently announced that he is not running for a second term, citing among other things the need “to fulfill my highest responsibilities — being a good husband and father.” 

VOTERS TO DETERMINE FATE OF RURAL AND CRITICAL LANDS PROGRAM FUNDING

The pace of development in the Lowcountry can be measured in days, as wild wooded areas become construction sites practically overnight. The Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program protects Lowcountry land — including some of the area’s most gorgeous vistas — forever. In November, voters will be asked to approve or reject a bond referendum question that would provide $25 million in additional funding for the land-buying program.

Hardeeville MayorHARDEEVILLE LEADERS TALK CITY PLANNING

Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams and city manager Michael Czymbor have nearly 60 years of local management experience between them. They say this wealth of experience will help guide the city through the looming development boom, and they are committed to growing the city while preserving its character, environmental integrity and quality of life.