Celebrate the Visual Arts on Hilton Head Island


Hilton Head Island is known for its beautiful sunny beaches, world-class golf courses, quintessential island activities, and stunning Lowcountry landscapes that inspire artists from across the globe. Hilton Head is a vibrant cultural destination with a long history and tradition of supporting the arts and home to some of the finest art galleries, Lowcountry markets, art and craft festivals, and public art collections in South Carolina. 

Whether you’re an art aficionado and collector, a budding artist, or instilling a lifelong love of art in your kids, Hilton Head Island is a destination that won’t disappoint. Explore the local art galleries, studios and impressive displays of local art placed creatively around the island, take an art class, or simply pursue your artistic talents capturing Hilton Head’s Lowcountry landscapes from your front porch! 

You’ll be sure to find a scenic and secluded Lowcountry artist retreat in our collection of luxury Hilton Head Island rentals – and we’ve done the homework for you on how to celebrate the visual arts on Hilton Head Island.


HILTON HEAD ISLAND ART GALLERIES

Art League of Hilton Head

Rotating art exhibits of all mediums, visual arts classes, Arts Center events and cultural performances.

Bo Art Gallery

Artist studio space, collective art gallery, and full spectrum studio (studio/art center for Lowcountry artists with disabilities).

CamelLia Art & Gallery

Impressionistic oil paintings, abstract art, bronze sculptures.

Coastal Discovery Museum Gallery

Current Exhibition – Heart and Soul of the South by the Art Quilters of the Lowcountry.

Endangered ArtS Fine Art Gallery

Original paintings, limited editions, bronze sculptures, glass work.

John McManus Fine Art Photography

Lowcountry fine art photographer, by appointment only.

Nash Gallery

Creative American crafts, glass work, metal work, wood work, ceramics, jewelry. Hosts of the Memorial Day Hilton Head Art Festival at Shelter Cove.

Smith Galleries

Clay work, woodwork, metal, fiber, glassware, handcrafted toys for children.

Society of Bluffton Artists

Rotating exhibits of 100+ local Lowcountry artists.

The Art of Sonja Griffin Evans

Vibrant African American Gullah art originals on canvas.

The Red Piano Art Gallery

South Carolina’s oldest professional gallery of Fine Art. 

Vivid Art Gallery

Volunteer run gallery that showcases fine art photography printed on canvas and acrylics.


HILTON HEAD ISLAND PUBLIC ART COLLECTION

Humanus

Hilton Head Airport Terminal, 120 Beach City Rd.

Hilton Head’s latest public sculpture installed in 2020 “celebrates the bonds of family, strength, our natural community and the oneness of humanity.”

Artist: Kevin Eichner of Moncure, NC

Carocol

Shelter Cove Community Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane

An abstract coil shaped sculpture offering a “perspective on the landscape not seen before.”

Artist: John Clement of Brooklyn, NY

Theb: Tally

118 William Hilton Parkway

THEB: Transparent, Hollow, Empty, Boxes!

Artist: Jeff Boshart of Charleston, IL

Charles Fraser

Compass Rose Park, 4 Saint Augustine Place

A classic sculpture of Charles Fraser, founder of Sea Pines, walking an alligator.

Artists: Susie Chisholm of Savannah, GA and Darrell Davis of Arlington, TX

Setting Sun

Coastal Discovery Museum, 70 Honey Horn Drive

A unique and creative sculpture with bright orange radials reflecting the setting sun.

Artist: Tom Holmes of Greely, PA

Sandy Roads

Coligny Beach Park, 1 Coligny Circle

A kinetic sculpture inspired by the scenic trails leading to Hilton Head Island’s award-winning beaches.

Artist: Mark Larkin of Bluffton, SC

Poppies

Veterans Memorial Park, 59 Shelter Cove Lane

An inspiring sculpture of an American veteran clutching poppies, resting on a bench bearing the caption “To all veterans who served that all may be free.”

Artist: Sandy Proctor of Tallahassee, FL

Sail Around

1030 William Hilton Parkway

A colorful sculpture with a bright yellow 16-ft steel sail reflecting the nautical history of Hilton Head Island

Artist: Wayne Trapp of Vilas, NC

Family

Chaplin Linear Park, 662 William Hilton Parkway

Unique kinetic sculptures of a trio of horses made from brass, steel, and wood.

Artist: Jonathan Bowling of Greenville, NC


HILTON HEAD ART FESTIVALS & EVENTS

First Thursdays Art Market at Sea Pines

Year-Round

The Shops at Sea Pines Center host a First Thursdays Art Market from 4pm to 8pm timed perfectly with Hazel Dean’s Thirsty Thursday Wine Tastings.

Hilton Head Crescendo

October 10, 2022 – November 11, 2022

Hilton Head Crescendo is a month-long celebration of the arts, culture and history of Hilton Head Island, attracting over 10,000 visitors to Hilton Head. Join the artists at Bo Art Gallery for their fantastic Fall Art Festival on October 22nd (10AM – 5PM) with music, art, studio tours, food vendors, and a chance to meet the artists.

Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival

October 15, 2022 – October 23, 2022

The award-winning Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood is a fall highlight with Lowcountry oyster roasts, boat tours on the May River, soirees, orchestras and live music, and ending with a fabulous Street Fest and juried art show featuring over 100 artists from across the US (October 22-23).

Coastal Discovery Museum

April 29, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Save the date for the 2023 Coastal Discovery Museum Art Market, an outdoor fine art and craft sale under the historic live oaks at Honey Horn. 

Hilton Head Art Festival at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina

May 27 – May 28, 2023

Kick off summer the right way – a Memorial Day weekend in Hilton Head! The Hilton Head Art Festival presented by Nash Gallery is a two day festival with live bands, dance performances and artwork of every medium, all made in the USA.

Start planning your next Hilton Head Island beach vacation with Sunset Rentals! Book with confidence and ease with our new Sunset Package and take 15% OFF all fall and winter stays RISK FREE with our 15off Promo Code at checkout! 


Hilton Head Island Wellness Retreat


Treat yourself to a wellness retreat and recharge in paradise on America’s favorite island! Situated on the unspoiled South Carolina coastline, Hilton Head Island is a destination that inspires health & wellness and allows you to switch to a slower pace and indulge all your senses in a majestic Lowcountry setting. 

With world-class golf courses and racquet clubs, serene waterways for eco-tours and activities, tranquil nature trails, miles of natural beaches, plentiful spa services, and healthy dining options  – Hilton Head Island holds all the secrets to a healthier, happier YOU!

Spend your wellness retreat in a spa-inspired Hilton Head Island vacation home from Sunset Rentals. Enjoy unlimited access to a private heated pool, sea-facing decks to dolphin watch from home, private beach boardwalks, and warm southern hospitality from our on-island team at Sunset Rentals. Enhancing your wellness retreat, our exciting Vayk Bike & Beach Gear Credit program provides guests with up to $350 in complimentary gear for wellness activities and beach days – delivered to and collected from your rental. 

Our Hilton Head vacation rentals offer the space and comfort of a private home and luxury guest amenities perfectly suited for a wellness-inspired getaway to the South Carolina coastline. Stop dreaming and start planning your wellness retreat on Hilton Head Island today.


The Laid-Back Bougie | North Forest Beach


4 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom, Sleeps 11

$350 Vayk Bike & Beach Gear Credit

Completely renovated in Spring 2022, The Laid-Back Bougie is a luxury 4-bedroom beach home with a laid-back coastal vibe, simply stunning guest bedrooms, and mosaic and marble bathrooms fit for a queen! The only thing that may draw you away from a sensual steam shower or soaking session under the skylights is the private backyard complete with a private pool, barbeque, café table for dining, and tranquil fairy lights – an outdoor oasis designed with your downtime in mind. 

When it’s time to explore Hilton Head Island, Laid Back Bougie is ideally situated in the heart of North Forest Beach and only a 5-minute walk or quick bike ride to Coligny Plaza, gorgeous Atlantic beaches, and all the coastal cuisine and retail therapy you can handle.

Happy Place | Sea Pines


4 Bedroom, 4.5 Bathroom, Sleeps 10

$350 Vayk Bike & Beach Gear Credit

Find your Happy Place on Hilton Head Island! This stunning, newly renovated, 4-bedroom vacation home boasts all-new southern-inspired luxury interiors, a beautifully furnished and secluded pool patio extending over the marsh, and four dream-worthy guest bedrooms all with private bathrooms and breathtaking Lowcountry views. With his and her vanities, a classic freestanding bathtub, an ornate rainfall shower, and steps to the private pool, the master bathroom sets the tone for daily spa sessions on vacation. 

This Lowcountry dream home is situated less than a mile from the tranquil nature trails in Sea Pines Forest Preserve or a short bike ride to the hustle and bustle of Harbour Town and an oceanfront restaurant, beach bar, and world-class beach amenities at the Sea Pines Beach Club.

Duck Hawk | Sea Pines


5 Bedroom, 5 Bathroom, Sleeps 14

$350 Vayk Bike & Beach Gear Credit

This quintessential beach house is situated oceanfront in Sea Pines with luxury guest amenities and breathtaking Atlantic views to wow even the most elegant resort spa-goers. Duck Hawk 27 boasts five-star luxury interiors, sea-facing guest suites, soaking tubs and step-in showers, and expansive oceanfront decks geared for the ultimate wellness retreat on Hilton Head.   

The first-floor deck features a grilling area, bistro table, outdoor TV, conversation area, sun loungers, and a sunken pool and spa. Stairs lead down to a lower-level patio with an outdoor sofa and firepit, a volleyball net, and a private boardwalk to the beaches of Sea Pines and Hilton Head Island. Even a quick weekend getaway at Duck Hawk will shift your whole mindset!

Mooring Buoy | Palmetto Dunes


3 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Sleeps 8

$250 Vayk Bike & Beach Gear Credit

Nestled in the towering trees on the Palmetto Dunes lagoon system, Mooring Buoy 175 is a relaxing Hilton Head vacation home to restore your mind, body, and soul. Get active with oceanfront tee times, pickleball and tennis, or ocean play minutes away, paddle the Palmetto lagoons, or simply relax, unwind, and indulge in the home comforts of Mooring Buoy Palmetto Dunes.    

Inspirational spa sessions begin in the master suite complete with a romantic skylight soaking tub, a separate rainfall shower, and sliding doors out to the deck with calming views over the lagoons. Settle in on the sun loungers for a dose of vitamin D, grill fresh seafood on the BBQ, plunge in your private pool and spa, and take advantage of your Vayk gear credit to kayak or SUP from your private lagoon front dock!

With a selection of 220+ professionally managed vacation rentals, exceptional guest services from a local on-island team, and a flexible cancellation policy – you can book your Hilton Head Island wellness retreat with confidence and ease with Sunset Rentals.


Featured Homes for the Holidays on Hilton Head Island


Travel to Hilton Head Island for the holidays to make the ultimate family memories and new annual traditions. Celebrate the season together in a luxury vacation rental with plenty of space for the whole family and amenities for everyone, including heated pools, stunning kitchens, beachfront access, and pet-friendly homes. Sunset Rentals offers an extensive collection of rentals to fit every family’s unique needs.

Heated Pools for Unforgettable Family Memories


Mooring Buoy 54

Mooring Buoy 54 is a lovely 5 bedroom Palmetto Dunes home on the beach path, just a few steps to the Atlantic Ocean. Professionally decorated and furnished, this spectacular home boasts the finest details, spacious interiors, and luxurious private heated pool.

Haul Away 33

A relaxing holiday vacation awaits you when you stay at Haul Away 33. The home is located on the Robert Trent Jones golf course and has a private heated pool, screened-in porch and is located just a quick walk or bike ride to the beach!

Lark 2

Located in the heart of North Forest Beach, Lark 2 is a spacious 4-bedroom pet-friendly home that exudes Lowcountry beach cottage flare with easy access to Hilton Head’s top beaches and attractions. Enjoy the private heated pool, outdoor deck, and spacious interiors.

Spacious Kitchens for Baking Holiday Treats


West Beach Lagoon 23

West Beach Lagoon 23 offers luxury, lowcountry vacationing at its finest! As you walk in the front door, you’ll be greeted by an open-concept floor plan, views of the pool and patio, new décor and furnishings, as well as a luxury kitchen and dining area perfect for home cooked holiday meals.

Happy Place

Happy Place is a stunningly updated 4 bedroom home with picturesque marsh views, designer interiors, private pool, and a gourmet kitchen. Enjoy all new kitchen appliances, double ovens, a beverage center, formal dining area, and more to bake all your favorite holiday treats.

Colonnade Club 198

Colonnade Club 198 is a beautifully updated 2 bedroom condo featuring new furnishings, open-concept floor plan, private balcony overlooking the lagoon and golf course. Sit around the spacious kitchen bar baking cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, and tasting holiday treats together!

Private Access to Uncrowded Beaches


Dune Lane 127

Dune Lane 127 is a 4 bedroom oceanfront Forest Beach home with direct access to the beach, private oceanfront pool, and outdoor deck. Head out the back door, by the private pool, and onto the uncrowded beach for an unforgettable holiday.

Beach Villa 3

Just steps from the sand, Beach Villa 3 is a 3 level, 3 bedroom Palmetto Dunes villa with an expansive outdoor deck with oceanfront views, beautiful spacious interiors, and directly located on the uncrowded beach.

Windsor Place 308

Expansive ocean views await at Windsor Place 308! This 3 bedroom oceanfront villa has been completely renovated and meticulously outfitted to provide guests with luxurious rental accommodations with private access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Pet-Friendly Homes to Celebrate with the Whole Family


Gloucester 77

This luxurious 3 bedroom pet-friendly Shipyard home is the perfect retreat for your holiday vacation on Hilton Head Island. Gloucester 77 offers stylish living in a secluded setting with luxury amenities both indoor and out, including a private hot tub!

St. Andrews 1876

St. Andrews 1876 is a colorful two-bedroom, second floor, pet-friendly Palmetto Dunes villa offering tranquil views of the golf course, the inviting community pool, the calming lagoon fountain, and features newly updated furnishings, kitchen, and baths.

Oak Court 61

Oak Court 61 is a beautifully updated property with all new furnishings, spacious living areas, outdoor deck, screened-in porch, and stunning views. This home is also pet-friendly, so bring your furry family members along to celebrate the holidays!

Large Family Accomodations with 5+ Bedrooms


Duck Hawk 27

Breathtaking ocean views await from almost every room in the house with grand architectural interiors at 27 Duck Hawk – a true oceanfront retreat! The 5-bedroom home has upgraded features, elevated living spaces, a private pool, beach access, and abundant outdoor living spaces offer enough room for larger groups or multi-generational families.

Capri 2

The Hilton Head Island vacation of your dreams awaits at this luxurious, newly renovated 3rd row wonder: 2 Capri Lane in North Forest Beach. This 7 bedroom home offers glimpses of the ocean, a raised pool and spa deck, spacious interiors for everyone to lounge, and contemporary coastal furnishings to accommodate up to 22 guests.

Dune Lane 105

Dune Lane 105 sits directly on the oceanfront in North Forest Beach with a private pool and boardwalk to the beach! Complete with an expansive kitchen, living and dining areas, this stunning home accommodates up to 16 guests. The living area features wrap-around, floor-to-ceiling windows providing oceanfront views no matter where you are in the main areas of the home.

Stay with Sunset Rentals for the Holidays


The holidays can be stressful enough without worrying about where you’ll stay. Stay with Sunset Rentals for a little peace of mind this holiday season. For 28 years, Sunset Rentals has understood that there are few things more precious than your vacation with friends and family. We are driven by the desire to make certain that your vacation is spent enjoying that time. We are a locally operated Hilton Head Island company that takes pride in offering first-class service to our guests.


A Guide to Dolphin Watching on Hilton Head Island


Everyone loves dolphins, but there’s nothing quite as spectacular as interacting with these playful, intelligent, and magnificent mammals in their natural habitat. On Hilton Head Island you won’t find any dolphins in captivity or controversial dolphin shows – our warm South Carolina coastal waters are a natural haven for wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, some migrating through in summer, and others choosing to stay year-round in the ocean and waterways surrounding Hilton Head Island. Very intelligent indeed! 

Hilton Head Island ranks as one of the “10 Best Dolphin Sighting Destinations in North America” and dolphin watching is one of the most popular activities on the island. Dolphins are easily spotted from the beaches, oceanfront golf courses, waterfront restaurants, and even from the comfort of a vacation home

Our guide to dolphin watching on Hilton Head Island highlights when, where, and how best to experience our migratory and resident Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in the wild.

DOLPHIN SEASON ON HILTON HEAD

Dolphin season on Hilton Head Island is year-round! While most dolphin pods migrate seasonally, the mild year round water temperatures on the South Carolina coastline are highly attractive to Atlantic Bottlehead Dolphins. The Lowcountry coastline is home to an estimated population of 600 resident dolphins with approximately 170 full time resident dolphins thriving on Hilton Head Island. In the summer months, the dolphin population almost doubles with migratory dolphins seeking warmer waters close to shore and hunting for food in the salt marsh estuaries.

WHERE TO SPOT DOLPHINS ON HILTON HEAD

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are a familiar site on Hilton Head Island and can be easily spotted frolicking and feeding in the Atlantic Ocean, rivers, creeks and tidal marshes. Visitors to Hilton Head regularly encounter our resident dolphin pods playing in Broad Creek, following the shrimp boats on Calibogue Sound, or strand feeding on the muddy banks of the shallow backwater creeks. The South Carolina coastline is one of the few places in the world where you can witness the unique activity of dolphin strand feeding.

DOLPHIN WATCHING TOURS & EXPERIENCES ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND

Dolphin tours are the best way to encounter bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat and explore the hidden creeks and coves otherwise unreachable! A dolphin watching tour is sure to be the highlight of your Hilton Head Island vacation, and there are endless options to choose from.

Hilton Head’s dolphin watching tours range from intimate kayak tours right in the water to narrated group tours on a double decker boat. Any water activity on Hilton Head presents an opportunity to encounter our friendly dolphins and diverse local wildlife – the experience is up to you!

Outside Hilton Head

Outside Hilton Head offer unique guided experiences for all dolphin lovers with options for group tours or customized private outdoor adventures with a naturalist. Choose to dolphin watch by kayak, SUP, pontoon, catamaran, or luxury sail boat by sunset. You can even go tubing with dolphins! If you prefer to explore the coastal waterways unguided, Outside Hilton Head has a wide selection of boat, kayak, and SUP rentals.

Dolphin Discoveries Nature Tour

Unlike many of the big boat tours on Hilton Head, Dolphin Discoveries offers an intimate dolphin watching experience limited to 6 guests only, with no set loop on the water and dolphin sightings GUARANTEED! There are great options to choose from including sunset dolphin cruises, fireworks and dolphin nature tours, and kayaking dolphin experiences to encounter the local pods up close and personal.

Dolphin Seafari

The famous Donuts Dolphin Cruise with Dolphin Seafari is always a favorite with families visiting Hilton Head. The 30-foot covered pontoon boat sits close to the water for ultimate dolphin viewing, with private tours available to escape the crowds. Traveling without kids? The Sunset Dolphin Cruise aboard Dolphin Seafari is voted the best dolphin tour on the island, with private tours available for smaller groups.

Captain Mark’s Dolphin Cruises

Captain Mark has been cruising dolphin lovers down Broad Creek and along the Calibogue Sound for 40 years! Captain Mark’s dolphin cruises cover the coastal wildlife, nature and history of Hilton Head Island and take you past some of the top attractions and secret dolphin viewing spots on the island. For pet parents looking for a dog-friendly Hilton Head dolphin tour, this is it!

Coastal Discovery Museum

The Coastal Discovery Museum offers group tours and private experiences to encounter dolphins in their natural habitat on both Hilton Head and the remote waters of Daufuskie Island. The Coastal Discovery Museum also presents an opportunity to make a difference during your stay on Hilton Head and Adopt a Dolphin! Your support will help raise funds towards saving dolphins and continuing conservation efforts on the island to protect the local pods.


FUN FACTS ABOUT ATLANTIC BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS
  • Dolphins are named after their elongated snout.
  • They eat small fish, squid and crustaceans and swallow their food whole.
  • They grow up to 13 feet long and up to 1,300 pounds.
  • They use sound to communicate, navigate and hunt and can make up to 1,000 clicking noises per second.
  • They do not have vocal chords, all sounds come through the dolphin’s blowhole.
  • They shed their outermost layer of skin almost every two hours.
  • Their dorsal fin is as unique as a human fingerprint
  • They can remain submerged and hold their breath for up to 15 minutes.
  • They dive as deep as 800 feet below the surface.
  • They launch themselves as high as 20 feet out of the water.  
  • They can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.
  • They can hold their breath for up to 7 minutes.
  • Dolphins need to be awake to breathe. They have two brain lobes that act independently, one side sleeps while the other stays awake to breathe.
  • They feel emotions such as fear, grief and joy.
  • They LOVE humans but they are wild animals and should always be treated with respect!
  • Dolphins are a federally protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act – it is illegal to feed, touch or harass dolphins!

Stay with Sunset Rentals and you can watch the dolphins from home! Our collection of 225 Hilton Head Island vacation homes and villas are situated in the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island and include luxury rentals on the Calibogue Sound, Broad Creek and Atlantic Ocean with fantastic vantage points for dolphin viewing from your front porch. Start planning your Hilton Head dolphin encounters today with our on island team at Sunset Rentals.


The Best Restaurants on Hilton Head Island


Ranked #1 in Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards, and one of the top-booked summer vacation destinations for 2021, Hilton Head Island is renowned for its pristine beaches, world-class golf, scenic trails, and beautiful coastal landscapes. Another captivating aspect of the Island is its Lowcountry cuisine — from warm shrimp and grits, to perfectly seasoned country fried steak. 

Hilton Head Island is surrounded by coastal waters and lush marshlands, so the freshest seafood is widely available across the island. Aside from seafood, Lowcountry cuisine is also famous for fried chicken and pulled pork, but the options are endless with over 250 restaurants to choose from. We’ve compiled a list of our locals’ favorite restaurants that are a must-try on your next vacation to Hilton Head Island.


Skull Creek Dockside


Hilton Head Island’s leading destination for delectable cuisine, beautiful views, and a welcoming staff. Enjoy the breathtaking views of Hilton Head Island and Skull Creek in a family friendly environment. Menu items include premium seafood, BBQ, prime steaks and daily specials, as well as extensive wine selections.

A Lowcountry Backyard


The Island’s place for Lowcountry seafood and cuisine made the way “it used to be.” Here you will find the BEST shrimp and grits (voted #1 in South Carolina!) and feel the warm embrace of soul-food and good company. Gullah culture and cooking are the roots from which Hilton Head grew. Experience the cooking of life-long islanders and truly authentic island cuisine.

Hudson’s on the Docks


Sitting right at the edge of Port Royal Sound, every table features extraordinary views for a truly special low-country dining experience. Hudson’s uses one of only two remaining local fishing fleets on Hilton Head Island to bring in fresh-caught seafood straight to our docks and to your table. Guests often get to share the excitement as fishing crews unload thousands of fresh oysters, shrimp and soft shell crabs from each day’s catch. Bring your family and friends for a special low-country seafood feast that has been a Hilton Head Island tradition for over 50 years!

The Crazy Crab


The Islander’s place for fresh seafood for over 30 years with two great waterfront dining locations. Crazy Crab Harbour Town is your perfect spot if you’re in the area for a tour, to visit the lighthouse, see the boats, or listen to music. No matter the reason you’re in Harbour Town, we’re here to serve you fabulous seafood and cocktails! If you’re on the other side of town, Crazy Crab Jarvis Creek is open and ready to serve you. Come enjoy the new, expanded back deck with a huge bar, tons of high-top tables, and, of course, the best sunset in town.

Nick’s Steak and Seafood


With “something for everyone,” the entire family will be able to find that one dish that they can’t live without. From hand cut steaks, delicious local seafood, tempting pasta dishes, specialty sandwiches and an extensive kids menu; everyone eats happy. The warm casual dining room provides the perfect spot for family gatherings, relaxed date nights, or the occasional neighborhood social.  Not only is the atmosphere inviting, but the staff takes pride in providing the best dining experience you can have.

Fishcamp on Broad Creek


Enjoy lunch, brunch, or dinner with the taste of the Lowcountry in a historic waterfront setting. From seafood to steak, kid’s menu to brunch, we have something for everyone. Kick back, listen to local musicians and relax with one of our crafty cocktails, local beers or a glass of wine at our outside bar. Our pet-friendly patio overlooks an incredible sunset with views of Broad Creek. Dine in and find your next favorite island restaurant.

Pool Bar Jim’s


Hilton Head’s hidden gem, found at Sea Crest Resort’s pool. This bar will transport you back in time with retro inspired food and cocktails. Sit at one of the two outdoor bars, by the pool, or inside with the family.

Steamer Seafood


Since 1991, Steamer Seafood has served up unique and tasty Lowcountry favorites. With both indoor and patio dining, our guests can enjoy the best of Hilton Head Island. Bring your family, your friends, and even large groups for the Lowcountry’s favorite dining experience. We offer both large and small seating spaces. Plenty of free parking is available, and we’re easily accessible to the island leisure trails if you prefer to walk or bicycle.

Coast


Local, fresh seafood served by the ocean. Located in the Sea Pines Beach Club, Coast provides Hilton Head Island’s best fresh seafood with a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy the beautiful and inviting beachside atmosphere at Coast, whether dining indoors or outdoors.

OMBRA Cucina Italiana


OMBRA originates from the Veneto region in Italy. It is used to describe a crisp glass of white wine served at your local restaurant, perhaps located on a picturesque side street or “calli.” The food is flavorful and quintessentially Italian alongside some great wines and company. OMBRA is about appreciating the food and wines of Italy, in a modern, rustic and casual elegant way.


Stay in the Island’s Top Vacation Rentals

Stay near the best restaurants on Hilton Head Island with Sunset Rentals! Our luxury vacation homes in the top resort areas of Hilton Head are only steps away from some of the best restaurants in town. With over 220+ Hilton Head Island rentals and first class service from our on-island team, you can book your Hilton Head vacation home with confidence and ease with Sunset Rentals.   


Our selection of luxury Hilton Head Island vacation homes and villas are situated in the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island with luxury amenities, peaceful Lowcountry views, and only steps from the best restaurants.


History of Hilton Head Island


Situated only 45 minutes from historic Savannah, Hilton Head is the largest of the South Carolina islands stretching 12 miles along the Atlantic Coastline. Hilton Head Island offers the ultimate in Lowcountry island living – miles of unspoiled beaches, nature preserves and biking trails, world-class golf and tennis, upscale shopping and dining, and luxury Lowcountry coastal retreats. 

Hilton Head Island also offers visitors a glimpse into the fascinating history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, a destination that has survived three wars, multiple hurricanes, and eras of feast, famine – and fame. In 2021, Travel+Leisure ranked Hilton Head #1 in World’s Best Islands but what lies behind the fame of America’s favorite island. Journey with us as we explore the fascinating history behind Hilton Head Island.


2000 BC to 1500 AD

Evidence of life over 4,000 years ago remains on Hilton Head Island today. The well-preserved Native American Indian Shell Ring is located in Sea Pines Preserve and is the oldest known archaeological site on Hilton Head Island, and one of only 50 shell rings known to still exist today. This iconic remnant of Hilton Head Island’s history measures 150 feet in diameter and is one of the most pristine examples of a shell ring remaining in the USA. 

Later, in 1335 A.D, the Native American tribes built a fortified village covering two acres along the banks of Skull Creek. This shell ring is also open to the public on a short and easy trail at the Green’s Shell Enclosure Heritage Preserve. Both these historic shell rings are today listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


1500 to 1700: EARLY EUROPEAN EXPLORERS

Historical records show the first Spanish explorers making contact with local Native Americans in 1521, nearly two hundred years later. In 1566, the Spanish explorers built Santa Elena, a permanent settlement and Fort across the Port Royal Sound on Parris Island. They abandoned Santa Elena in 1587 to colonize further south in St Augustine, Florida. By 1663, the island was largely uninhabited except for a small population of Native Americans living off the land. 

In August 1663, English Captain William Hilton set sail from Barbados to explore land granted to the Lords Proprietors, eight Englishmen to whom King Charles II had granted power of Carolina. His original landing site was the Port Royal Sound and, on gaining first sight of the headlands, he claimed the land for Britain. 

In the spring of 1670, Captain Robert Sandford together with over 150 colonists, servants and slaves sailed into what is today Charleston Harbor claiming the land and naming it Charles Town, in honor of King Charles II. By 1672, the expanding settlement had relocated on a peninsula between the Cooper and Ashley River and …. the rest is history! Today, Charleston ranks as the #1 City in the USA

On 16 August 1698, the Lords Proprietors granted John Bayley of Ireland a barony which included most of Hilton Head Island, excluding Port Royal Sound and Skull Creek. John Bayley never once visited Hilton Head Island, instead appointed Alexander Trench as an agent to sell the property. The bulk of the barony remained in the Bayley family until after the Revolutionary War.


1700 to 1860: HILTON HEAD PLANTATION HISTORY

In 1717, Colonel John Barnwell was granted 1,000 acres of land on the NW corner of the island (now Hilton Head Plantation) and became the first white settler on Hilton Head. There was still hostility between the Spanish and British and, in 1733, the City of Savannah was founded as a barrier between Spanish Florida and British Carolina. 

By the 1750s, most of the plantations on the island were successfully growing indigo, which was being sold to the English – until the Revolutionary War. During the Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783), the British successfully took the city of Savannah (after failing to take Charleston!) and frequently raided the island, burning plantations and capturing slaves. Aside from rice, indigo was South Carolina’s most second valuable export, however trading with England had now ceased. 

It wasn’t until 1790 when William Elliott planted the first crop of Sea Island long-staple cotton that the island once again began to gain recognition. William Elliott teamed up with neighbor Will Seabrook to pioneer a new fertilizer for the cotton crops and the Lowcountry sea islands began to boom. 

The War of 1812 brought more devastation by British forces to the island, but the economy quickly resumed and, by 1860, the cotton industry on the island was lucrative with nearly two dozen working plantations.


1860 to 1940: SLAVERY & THE CIVIL WAR

South Carolina was the first US state to withdraw from the Union in December 1860, and, in April 1861, the Civil War began. After the Battle of Port Royal Sound in November 1861, more than 12,000 soldiers captured Fort Walker and Hilton Head Island fell into the hands of the Federal troops. Hilton Head Island became the headquarters for the blockade of the South Atlantic coast with an estimated forty thousand soldiers, prisoners of war, and former slaves settling on the island. The prospering rice, indigo and cotton plantations were abandoned, yet this victory meant freedom for the African Americans that remained. 

In 1862, Union General Ormsby Mitchel built the town of Mitchelville, the first self-governing town of formerly enslaved African Americans with nearly 1,500 Gullah residents. Land was confiscated, northern missionaries opened one room schools, and homes were built for the former slaves, known locally as “contrabands of war”. 

In 1864, as the troops began to move out of the area, Fort Howell was built to protect the town of Mitchelville. In 1865, the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery was signed and the Gullah community of Mitchelville were legally freed. Many moved on, others stayed on the island farming in the summer, oyster harvesting in the winter, and remaining true to the rich legacy of the Gullah culture. 

Hilton Head Island returned to nature and from the 1900s to 1950s was primarily used as a destination for wealthy private hunting groups. Today, visitors to Hilton Head can walk the quiet trails leading through historic Mitchelville Freedom Park with the original site of Battle of Port Royal, historical remnants of the town and Fort Howell, and access to an off the beaten path beach overlooking the passage taken by Captain William Hilton in 1663. 

The Baynard Plantation, built by Revolutionary War hero Captain Jack Stoney in 1793, was used as the HQ for the Union troops and was later burned to the ground. Visitors to the island today can still tour the ruins of the grand antebellum home and slave quarters on a short hike through Sea Pines Preserve.


1950 to 2000: MODERN AGE OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND

By early 1950, Georgia timberman Fred Hack had discovered the acres of loblolly pine and live oak trees on Hilton Head and, along with JB Fraser and other investors, set up the Hilton Head Company and began to buy up acres of land to harvest lumber. Lumber mills were built and, after harvesting millions of feet of lumber, Hilton Head Company began selling off lots along the beach for vacation cottages.

The modern age of Hilton Head Island began with Charles Fraser, son of J. B Fraser. Charles had a vision to preserve the plantation history and natural beauty of the island and build an eco-friendly, resort community on his family land dominating the southern tip of the island. The first car ferry arrived in 1953, a grocery store opened at Coligny Circle in Forest Beach, and the James F. Byrnes swinging bridge was built in 1956, finally connecting Hilton Head Island to the mainland. 

Fraser’s vision for a world-class resort became a reality and a model for future resort communities across the US. Sea Pines Plantation was a stunning natural oasis with classic Lowcountry architecture and beach homes, untouched forest preserves, 5-miles of sandy beaches, championship golf courses, and the signature candy-cane Harbour Town Lighthouse. Shipyard was the second plantation to be developed on Hilton Head, followed by Port Royal and Palmetto Dunes


EXPERIENCE HILTON HEAD ISLAND’S HISTORY

Harbour Town Lighthouse

Hilton Head Island is home to two lighthouses: The historic Leamington Lighthouse built by Union Troops in 1879 which overlooks the Arthur Hills Golf Course in Palmetto Dunes and the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse in Sea Pines Plantation, built by Charles Fraser as a fun and memorable landmark and museum dedicated to the history of Hilton Head Island. The 90-ft lighthouse features ten levels of fascinating photos and artifacts, a Coast Guard Exhibit, a one-of-a-kind gift shop and views all the way to Tybee Island!

Coastal Discovery Museum

The Coastal Discovery Museum is situated on the historic Honey Horn plantation, dating back to before the Civil War. The museum is home to nine historical buildings, the Santa Elena Center highlighting the history of 16th century Hilton Head, and 68 acres of beautiful grounds with nature trails, butterfly gardens, and an ancient 500-year old Southern Red Cedar. The Coastal Discovery Museum offers guided history tours of Hilton Head Island, the Forts of Port Royal and the habitats and history of Pinckney Island.

Venture beyond Hilton Head Island to learn more about the history of the Gullah culture on a boat tour of Daufuskie Island or take a cruise of Savannah’s historic port and riverfront.

Local Tip: For traditional Gullah-Geechee cuisine, soulful blues, and warm southern hospitality, stop by Ruby Lee’s situated just across William Hilton Parkway!

Port Royal Golf Club

Tee off for a round of golf at the Robber’s Row Course set atop former civil war grounds with interpretive markers on several holes describing the historic events that took place at Port Royal.

Gullah Heritage Tours

Travel through the communities of Hilton Head Island on a two-hour narrated bus tour with native Gullah residents. The tour is fun, interactive and covers the top historic Gullah attractions on the island including the Gullah Museum, a tiny museum dedicated to preserving the Gullah-Geechee heritage and culture. 


Locally serving Hilton Head since 1993, Sunset Rentals are one of the most experienced vacation rental companies on Hilton Head Island. Our portfolio of 220+ vacation homes and villas are situated in the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island with luxury vacation amenities and a 24/7 guest concierge from our local team. 

Take a tour of the resort areas of Hilton Head Island, browse our collection of luxury rentals (many including bike & beach gear credit valued up to $350!), and book your vacation with confidence and ease with Sunset Rentals.


Shop at Lowcountry Farmers Markets


Support local businesses here in the Lowcountry by visiting a Farmers Market to stock up on fresh groceries and new products. Whether you’re looking to pick up some dinner items for a home cooked meal in your vacation rental or wanting to bring home some knowledge and practice, a Farmers Market is the perfect place to visit on your next vacation to Hilton Head Island!

Hilton Head Farmers Market

The Hilton Head Farmers Market is held every Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Coastal Discovery Museum’s Honey Horn campus. Stop by to purchase local produce, seafood, meats and more while you enjoy unique vendors, food trucks, and live entertainment.

The Farmers & Makers Market

Every Tuesday starting March 15th through November 22nd, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at The Shops at Sea Pines Center. You can find seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly caught seafood, baked goods, barbecue, and artisan crafts!

Bluffton Farmers Market

Open every Thursday from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Hours and days vary, please check the Bluffton website for updated details. Enjoy fresh produce, prepared foods, plants, family-friendly activities, and live entertainment.

Lowcountry Made Popup Artisan Markets

The Made Market takes place every first and third Sunday starting in March through December, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The Night Bazaar takes place every first Thursday from March through July and October through December, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. These popup markets feature local artisans, small businesses, live entertainment, food, and drinks.

The Root and Bloom Market

A year round market every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Enjoy local organic produce and learn about the impact your health can have on your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Port Royal Farmers Market

Every Saturday year round from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM rain or shine. Experience fresh local produce, meats, seafood, prepared food vendors, plants, and more.

Whichever Farmers Market you find yourself at, home is just a short drive away when you stay with Sunset Rentals. With a portfolio of 220+ Hilton Head Island rentals and first class service from our on-island team, you can book your Hilton Head Island vacation home with confidence and ease at Sunset Rentals


Off The Beaten Path Adventures on Hilton Head Island


Hilton Head Island is the #1 island in the continental US and America’s favorite island, far from an under the radar or off the beaten path destination. Hilton Head Island is one of the most popular vacation destinations in South Carolina,- yet there are plenty of off the beaten path adventures that await! 

Spending a vacation on Hilton Head Island delivers the best of both worlds for travelers – 12-miles of sandy beaches, award-winning sports, activities galore at Harbour Town, Shelter Cove and Coligny Plaza, and quiet off the beaten path adventures away from the touristy spots of Hilton Head.

Unwind with a Quiet Beach Day


It is possible to have a quiet beach day without the crowds on Hilton Head Island. The north end of the island does not attract as many tourists and offers a quieter beach life. Mitchelville Beach Park is the most secluded, natural beach on Hilton Head for sunbathing or a quiet beach stroll – but is not lifeguarded, or great for ocean swimming.

One of the island’s best kept secrets is Burke’s Beach, located mid-island near Chaplin Community Park and accessed on a short walk (or bike ride) around the protected dunes. There are no major resorts or restaurants nearby so pack a picnic and enjoy miles of sandy shoreline, shallow lifeguarded water for the kids, crabbing adventures, and a fenced in dog park for your furry four-legged family member

Coligny Beach is where you’ll find the crowds but, if you head slightly south, Alder Lane Beach Park is one of the most peaceful beaches on the island and is both pet-friendly and lifeguarded for a quiet family beach day. Wherever you choose to spend a beach day on Hilton Head, bottlenose dolphin sightings and nesting sea turtles (May-Oct) are common sightings.

Get Out on the Water


Getting out on the water is what Hilton Head Island is all about! Hilton Head is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway with Broad Creek winding through the center of the island. Aside from fellow paddlers, the waterways are secluded with hidden coves and creeks abounding with dolphins and wildlife, and constantly changing with the tides. Book a guided kayaking, stand up paddleboarding or boating adventure with Outside Hilton Head, or consider a full moon tour to completely escape the crowds. Gear rentals are readily available to paddle the waterways alone. 

A private Hilton Head fishing charter will take you far away from the crowds into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Hilton Head Island is a top destination for all kinds of fishing with inshore, offshore, lagoon and sharking fishing tours in the high seas and on the Intracoastal Waterway.  

HorseBACK Ride in Sea Pines Forest Preserve


Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a lush 605-acre wildlife habitat with tranquil nature trails, boardwalks and bridges, fishing docks, and endless outdoor exploration. Escape the crowds (and the heat) on a horseback ride along the shaded trails in Sea Pines Forest Preserve with Lawton Stables, or alternatively opt for a boat tour, eco-adventure or fun hay wagon ride with the kids.

Picnic at Audubon Nature Preserve


Pack a picnic (and the binoculars) and head to Audubon Nature Preserve near Sea Pines. This small, 50-acre protected nature reserve is pure paradise with a small network of trails and boardwalks winding through five unique ecosystems, birds, butterflies and wildlife, and a tranquil pond perfect for a picnic. The Audubon Nature Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset and also offers guided tours with a naturalist.

Bike the Trails


Hilton Head Island is one of the most bike-friendly destinations in the US with over 60 miles of interconnected bike paths and trails across the island to either loop round the island with fellow cyclists or venture off and explore the island at your own pace. Sunset Rentals partners with Vayk Gear to provide compliment bike and beach gear credit at select Sunset Rentals properties, making it easy to bike the island trails, for free!

Visit Pinckney Island National Wildlife Preserve


Visiting Pinckney Island National Wildlife Preserve takes you right off the beaten path into 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness for hiking, biking, fishing, birding and wildlife viewing. Once an island lookout during the Civil War, this historic wildlife refuge features 14 miles of hiking and biking trails, salt marshes and ponds for fishing, and historical markers outlining the history of Hilton Head during the Civil War. The preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday 9AM to 5PM.

Explore the Coastal Discovery Museum


The Coastal Discovery Museum is rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage and is truly one of the most beautiful places to visit on Hilton Head Island. Guided tours and activities are available (with options to escape the crowds) but the 68-acre grounds are also perfect to quietly explore alone with centuries old buildings, interpretive trails, giant oaks and lagoons, and wildlife encounters around every corner.

Tour the Gullah-Geechee Neighborhoods


Soak up the history and heritage of Hilton Head Island on a Gullah Heritage Trail tour through the original Gullah-Geechee Neighborhoods of Hilton Head. Led by local Gullah descendants, this tour trails away from the island’s top tourist attractions through the historic and cultural sites in Mitchelville Freedom Park, the Gullah Museum, and the local Gullah neighborhoods on the island.

Plan a Day Trip to Daufuskie Island


You don’t get more off the beaten path than Daufuskie Island, a small and serene barrier island nestled between Hilton Head and mainland Savannah and accessible only by boat, ferry, or kayak! Take a private tour of Daufuskie Island without the tourists or rent a bike or golf cart to adventure along the trails and dirt roads alone. Find your sandy space on 3-miles of secluded shoreline, book a horseback ride on the beach with Daufuskie Trail Rides, visit historic lighthouses, and dine on Daufuskie Deviled Crab and Lowcountry cuisine overlooking the marina. Daufuskie Island is one for the bucket-list!

Stay Off the Beaten Path with Sunset Rentals


Escape the hustle and bustle of Hilton Head Island and stay off the beaten path with Sunset Rentals. With one of the largest collections of vacation rentals on Hilton Head, you can choose to stay oceanfront near Coligny Plaza or enjoy the peace and tranquility of your own private pool home in the islands top resort areas – surrounded by only luxurious comforts, the sounds of nature, peaceful views and a tropical island ambiance.


Spend Labor Day Weekend on Hilton Head Island


Labor Day is the annual recognition of the contributions Americans have made to the country’s social and economic achievements. There’s no better way to celebrate these accomplishments than supporting local establishments, relaxing on the beach, and taking a trip to one of America’s top vacation destinations – Hilton Head Island.

As summer comes to an end and temperatures simmer to the mid 80s on Hilton Head Island, Labor Day Weekend is the perfect last minute trip to end the season. There are several events taking place around town for the whole family to enjoy!


Harbourfest at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina

September 2nd – 4th, 2022

Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina in Hilton Head Island, SC

Enjoy fun for the whole family with live music, Cappy the Clown, and fireworks.

Lowcountry Jazz Festival

September 3rd – 4th, 2022

Gaillard Center in Charleston, SC

Take a scenic 2-hour trip to Charleston for South Carolina’s premier annual Smooth Jazz event continues its Labor Day weekend tradition, kicking off the weekend with a stellar lineup.

Edisto Beach Shag Festival

September 2nd – 4th, 2022

Bay Creek Park in Edisto Beach, SC

Take a 2-hour trip over to Edisto Island to dance the night away to favorite coastal shag hits or enjoy food, drinks, arts & crafts, and more fun for the whole family.

The Ultimate Rib Challenge: Labor Day Rib Cookout

September 3rd, 2022

The Salty Dog in Hilton Head Island, SC

The Ultimate Rib Challenge will feature rib entries from 4 Salty Dog locations: Salty Dog Cafe (HHI), Salty Dog Bluffton, Salty Dog Seabrook (Charleston), and Land’s End Tavern. And you are the judge, so order an Official Rib Sampler and join the challenge!

Labor Day Beach Bash

September 4th, 2022

Tybee Island Pier in Tybee Island, GA

Take a short trip to Tybee Island for a one-of-a-kind free outdoor concert on the beach, featuring The Swingin’ Medallions, an American beach music group from Greenwood, SC.

WaterSideWalk Sale

September 2nd – 5th, 2022

Shelter Cove Towne Centre in Hilton Head Island, SC

Enjoy great savings during the semi-annual Sidewalk Sale! Find end of summer sales, new fall merchandise, gifts, and more at participating retailers.


Stay with Sunset Rentals for 10% Off Select Rentals this Labor Day Weekend

Forest Beach Villa 117

1 BED | 1 BATH | 4 GUESTS

Chic decorated, comfy interiors, conveniently located to shops and restaurants, and close to the beach!

Shorewood 439

2 BED | 2 BATH | 6 GUESTS

4th floor Shorewood villa on South Forest Beach with ocean views!

Evian 156

3 BED | 3.5 BATH | 6 GUESTS

Beautifully updated 3 bedroom Evian property with picturesque island views!

Evian 257

2 BED | 2 BATH | 6 GUESTS

1st floor villa in the popular Evian section of Shipyard Plantation.

Beach Villa 3

3 BED | 4 BATH | 8 GUESTS

Oceanfront Palmetto Dunes Villa located on Hilton Head Island, near Shelter Cove!

Colonnade Club 146

2 BED | 2 BATH | 6 GUESTS

Recently renovated 2 bedroom Colonnade condo with island views!


Top 5 Reasons to Stay in Port Royal


Port Royal is Hilton Head Island’s only completely private oceanfront residential community. Located at the tip of the Island, with approximately 1 mile of pristine beachfront landscapes, Port Royal Sound meets the Atlantic Ocean. Residents and vacationers alike can walk along the quietest beach on Hilton Head Island right from home in Port Royal.

There’s something for everyone in Port Royal, whether you prefer golfing at one of its three championship golf courses, playing a match on one of the tennis courts, fishing in one of its lagoons, exploring the Arboretum, discovering the many historical sites, or finding all 19 beach walk paths. Port Royal is bound to be your new favorite spot on Hilton Head Island, with less hustle and bustle and more room for adventure!

Easy Beach Access


Port Royal beach access tends to be less crowded than other parts of the island, leaving you with more space to stretch out in the sand.

Convenient Location


Port Royal is located close to William Hilton Parkway, giving guests easy access to attractions, shops, grocery stores, and restaurants all across the island!

Pool Access


All of our Port Royal properties at Sunset Rentals have community pool access for guests to enjoy.

Spacious Properties


Port Royal condos provide large, open floor plans so guests have plenty of room to sit back, relax, and enjoy their ultimate vacation.

Skip the Wait at the Gate


Since Port Royal is a private community, guests won’t have to endure the long line at the guard gate to get in and out of the community! Car passes will be provided, and guests will be able to easily access the property without the long wait!

Sunset Rentals offers some of the finest rentals in Port Royal, ranging from quaint, quiet townhomes overlooking the lagoon to spacious townhomes, ideal for large group gatherings or annual family vacations.

All of our Port Royal rentals offer the comforts of home with access to a community pool, scenic bike and jogging trails, and a short walk to the uncrowded beaches.