Hilton Head Island, consistently recognized among the top family beaches in the country, annually hosts more than 2 million visitors. Fortunately for both locals and visitors, Shore Beach Services employs highly qualified lifeguards, such as Taylor Smith, so that beachgoers can safely enjoy the island’s miles of sandy shores.

A native of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Smith grew up enjoying the outdoors and being active in and around the water. Her swimming prowess garnered her a scholarship from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where she served as the captain of the swim team while pursuing a double major in business management and Spanish.

Jim Lisenby came to Hilton Head Island 37 years ago looking for quiet and anonymity. Instead, he brought the whir of two blenders to Sea Pines Beach Club and made himself into a local legend.

I came down here originally to write my book. I was living in Myrtle Beach and it was too distracting to try to write my book there. I’d met too many people in Myrtle Beach,” says Lisenby, who now has two books published, both on how to make the perfect frozen (and non-frozen) cocktails. “So I came here to get that book written, and I just never left.”

Karen Verechia thought she’d discovered nirvana the first time did yoga in the late ’90s.

“I have lived on the island for 30 years and spent much of it as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, but the first time I did a downward dog position, I was just hooked,” Verechia said.

Then she discovered an even greater fitness high: beach yoga. Now, the New Jersey native is in her 13th year of teaching what she loves in the perfect location to spread the gospel, in front of the Tiki Hut at the Holiday Inn Resort Beach House every spring and summer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. sharp.

Genia Edelman of Hilton Head Island has a career and social interests that span both sides of the continental United States.

Edelman is executive vice president for sales and marketing at The Africa Channel, a television network based in North Hollywood, California. Back on Hilton Head, she runs the Hilton Head Beach Volleyball Academy, which has 12 teen-aged girls in the recreational program.

Jayme-Lopko02As a senior planner for the Town of Hilton Head Island and a member of the Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project staff — lovingly dubbed “The Turtle Patrol” — protecting endangered species and conserving the environment is a way of life for Jayme Lopko. She joined the project a decade ago and has had a love affair with conservation work ever since.

Those familiar with Hilton Head Island’s premier dining experiences are no strangers to ELA’s Blu Water Grille, which is situated in Shelter Cove Harbour and has been voted the best location in South Carolina for water view dining. What those people may not know is that the developer of this family-owned and operated business, Earl Nightingale, has amassed decades of experience working with some of the most prominent brands in hospitality and humbly considers himself a “small-time operator.”

With one of the largest selections of craft beer, a near-encyclopedic knowledge of his products, a passion for the industry and a love of his community, Bomboras Grille co-owner Todd Romoser has certainly earned the title “The Island Beer Guy.”

michaelcirafesiSeemingly wielding a super-powered spatula, chef Michael Cirafesi has the magic ability to transport you to Italy. Maybe it’s his award-winning restaurant Ombra, which feeds not just our bellies but also our souls with Italian-inspired cuisine. Maybe it’s his Italian mannerisms and inflection-rich pronunciation of menu items like “insalata di pesche e Gorgonzola.” Or, more likely, maybe it’s his bone-marrow deep appreciation for cooking his ancestors’ classic dishes with innovative twists.

“I love food. Aside from my wife and children, I love food more than anything,” Cirafesi said. “From the dirt to the table, I love the shapes, the colors, the seasons, the varieties of food. My house is adorned with fruit and vegetable art. I couldn’t do anything else but this job.”

charliegolsonIn theory, Charles Golson could retire as proprietor of Charlie’s L’etoile Verte (French for green star).

Daughter Margaret aptly manages the day-to-day operations. Son Palmer oversees the kitchen. The 32-year-old restaurant is an island landmark for lunch or dinner and has earned national and international accolades. Hundreds of diners rave about it on Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor and reservations are a necessity in season.

But it’s hard to see when the theory of retirement might ever become reality.

Golson is having way too much fun.