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! 


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.


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


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!


Dog-Friendly Vacation on Hilton Head Island

The key to planning the perfect vacation with your dog is finding the right destination and Hilton Head Island tickets all the boxes for a dog-friendly vacation! Aside from our world-famous championship golf courses, you can practically take your well-behaved pooch anywhere on Hilton Head, including many of the island’s top tourist attractions, restaurants, and beaches. Swiftly say goodbye to hard to find pet sitters, doggy day cares, and costly boarding fees and start planning a pet-centric vacation with your pooch on Hilton Head Island. 

America’s Favorite Island is not only one of the most popular island destinations in the US, Hilton Head is also an oceanfront paradise for dog lovers and their furry-family members! Situated on the southern tip of the South Carolina coastline, Hilton Head Island boasts 12-miles of pristine pet-friendly beaches for beach-loving pups, water activities for adventurers, nature trails for wildlife viewing, outdoor patios with designer doggie menus, and beachfront rentals that’ll have your dog drooling for days! 

A recent study shows that nearly half the American population added a pet to their family during Covid and searches for “pet-friendly”, “dog-friendly”, and “allows pets” went up over 300%. Traveling with a pet requires a little extra thought and it’s always smart to plan ahead when adding the family dog to your guest list. Here’s our top tips for tail-wagging adventures and a dog-friendly vacation on Hilton Head Island.


Play on Hilton Head Island’s Dog-Friendly Beaches

Beach loving pups are in for a treat on Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head boasts some of the best dog-friendly beaches in South Carolina with wide open stretches for fetch and frisbee, calm waters for ocean dips, and hard packed sands for digging and beach walks. Burkes Beach is a favorite for dog-lovers with easy access to Chaplin Dog Park or head to Alder Lane Beach for a quieter beach day away from the crowds. Hilton Head Island’s beach rules are perfect for pets! In the high season, dogs are allowed on the beach before 10am and after 5pm, in the off-season Hilton Head is a pooch’s paradise with pets welcome anytime, on leash or under strict voice control.  


Cruise the Atlantic Coastline & Barrier Island Waterways

If your pup is adventurous (and a confident swimmer) take your outdoor activities to the next level and explore the coastline and waterways on a dog-friendly charter or cruise on Hilton Head Island. Sail alongside Hilton Head’s resident dolphin pod on Captain Mark’s dolphin cruises, go Lowcountry saltwater fishing on The Runaway, or plan a pet-friendly eco-adventure with Outside Hilton Head. When you vacation on Hilton Head Island, your pooch is always part of the adventures.


Explore Hilton Head’s Dog-Friendly Parks & Trails

If your pup prefers dry land, Hilton Head’s dog-friendly bike paths, nature trails and off-leash dog parks make it easy to get outdoors. Explore the Hilton Head Island bike paths, hike the nature trails at Audubon Newhall Preserve and Sea Pines Forest Preserve, or head to Chaplin Park. Chaplin Park is the most dog-friendly destination on Hilton Head with sports courts, a kids playground, hiking trails, beach access to Burkes Beach, and a fenced-in, double-gated, off-leash dog park for your pooch to romp and roam freely. The chance of encountering local wildlife on Hilton Head Island is high! Please keep your pets leashed, watch out for wildlife on the trails (and in the ponds!), and respect our wildlife habitats leaving no trace behind. 


Savor Fresh Seafood, Oceanfront Cocktails and Patio Dining with your Pup

While your furry travel buddy is not allowed inside Hilton Head Island’s cafes and restaurants, nearly every outdoor patio on the island is pet-friendly, and the climate is perfect for year-round patio dining with your pup. With 30+ dog friendly patios on Hilton Head Island (including favorites like The Crazy Crab, The Old Oyster Factory, Fishcamp, and Skull Creek Boathouse), exclusive doggie menus, chews and treats – your pooch will be panting to join you at breakfast, lunch, dinner and oceanfront cocktails on Hilton Head.


Spend your Vacation in the Top Pet-Friendly Rentals on Hilton Head Island

The days of leaving your furry friend behind while you vacation are long gone – our team at Sunset Rentals love and treat our four-legged travelers as well as our human guests, with exceptional guest service! 

Sunset Rentals represent Hilton Head Island’s largest collection of pet-friendly rentals offering pet owners a wide range of condos, golf villas, and luxury vacation villas that welcome well-behaved pets. Our dog-friendly vacation rentals feature all the comforts and perks of a private home, dog-friendly amenities for your pup, and a locally based team to guide you through your vacation planning. 

Take a tour of the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island, browse our selection of dog-friendly vacation rentals, and start planning your dog-friendly vacation on Hilton Head Island with Sunset Rentals.


Explore Hilton Head Island this Fall


Whether you’re seeking a quieter (and more affordable!) shoulder season escape or a second summer on secluded beaches, head to Hilton Head Island this fall for a vacation on America’s favorite island, without the crowds! 

Nestled on the southern tip of the South Carolina coastline, Hilton Head Island is a small coastal town with world-famous golf courses, miles of beautiful beaches, upscale shopping and dining, four seasons of adventure for all ages, and luxurious oceanfront and oceanside vacation rental retreats to call home. 

Hilton Head Island is the #1 Island in Continental US and is wonderful in the fall season. The weather is balmy, breezy and fabulous with warm sunny days, comfortably cool evenings, and very little rainfall. The crowds of beachgoers have dwindled, the chaos of the holiday season is over, the pace is slower, and you get to stay in your dream home at reduced rates! 

If the lure of a slower pace of life, family bike rides on uncrowded trails, lazy beach days on empty beaches, long lunches with oceanfront views, and relaxing downtime with family and friends in a tranquil and luxurious setting appeals to you – the fall season on Hilton Head Island beckons.


Enjoy a Second Summer on the Beach

Southern Living ranks Hilton Head Island “The South’s Best Beach Town” for 2022 and it’s the perfect destination for a second summer on the beach! Hilton Head’s 12-miles of pristine beaches are among the widest and flattest beaches in the US with calm waters, loads of natural tidal pools, hard-packed sand for bike riding and beach walks, and plenty vitamin sea! Hilton Head Island is a top destination for dog lovers and from October to February the canine restrictions lift – you can play frisbee with your dog on the beach all day long!


Go Wildlife Viewing in Nature

With the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Calibogue Sound to the west, and the inland waterways on Broad Creek, Hilton Head Island is one big nature preserve abounding with protected wildlife habitats, natural beauty, and endless opportunities for fall wildlife viewing. Zipline through the trees, cruise the shaded island trails, birdwatch at Audubon Newhall Preserve, horseback ride in Sea Pines Forest Preserve, or get out on the water! Pick up a kayak, SUP, or boat rental from one of Hilton Head’s several marinas or plan a classic Lowcountry tour of Hilton Head Island. From kayaking and SUP tours, fishing charters, and dolphin cruises to day trips to Daufuskie Island, there’s a fall adventure for every wildlife lover on Hilton Head.


Book a Round of Oceanfront Golf

Hilton Head Island is ranked one of the “World’s Top 10 Golf Islands” and is home to some of the best public golf courses in the US. Fall is the perfect season to get a tee-time at the world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links, play a breezy round of oceanfront golf in Palmetto Dunes, or take your pick of three award-winning courses (and 81 holes of play) at Hilton Head’s Heritage Golf Collection. If you’re visiting Hilton Head Island with kids, the Hilton Head National Golf Club is a favorite for family golf with junior rates and affordable family packages. Prefer a cool day on the courts? No worries, Hilton Head boasts more than 300 courts for tennis and pickleball – the latest trend on Hilton Head Island!


Dine Alfresco on the Waterfront

You can skip the long summer wait lines for outdoor patios and get the best seat in the house in Hilton Head Island’s top alfresco dining spots when you visit in fall. Hilton Head boasts over 30+ waterfront restaurants with raw bars for freshly shucked oysters, oceanfront patios for fine dining, iconic Tiki Huts, and rooftop bars with DJs, live music and line dancing for late night fun. Whether you’re watching the waves roll in from the Atlantic or the sunset over Skull Creek, fall is a fine time for alfresco dining on Hilton Head Island.


Entertain & Educate the Kids

There’s so much fun for kids on Hilton Head Island so entertain, educate and delight your kids with experiences they won’t find in a classroom. Climb to the top of the candy-cane Harbour Town Lighthouse, explore Adventure Playground and Sandbox Children’s Museum, burn off steam ziplining, go karting or golfing, and teach your kids the joy of spending time in nature. The fall weather is ideal for cool nature activities at the Coastal Discovery Museum or find an eco-adventure perfect for the whole family with Outside Hilton Head.


Attend a Fall Festival

From Lowcountry culinary experiences and all you can eat oyster extravaganzas to pumpkin patches and unique Gullah festivals celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the Lowcountry, Hilton Head Island is known for its fabulous fall festivals!

Lowcountry Fish and Grits Music Festival

October 1, 2022: Lowcountry Celebration Park

Jeep Island & Hilton Head Island Chili Cook-Off

October 7, 2022 – Lowcountry Celebration Park

October 8, 2022 – Coastal Discovery Museum

Rock N’ Ribs Music & BBQ Fest

October 14-15, 2022 – Coligny Plaza

Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival

October 15-23, 2022 – Historic Downtown Bluffton

Pumpkin Patch

October 21, 2022 – Shelter Cove Community Park

Italian Heritage Festival

October 22, 2022 – The Coastal Discovery Museum

Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance

November 4-6, 2022 – Port Royal Golf Club

Hilton Head Island Oyster Festival

November 11, 2022 – Shelter Cove Community Park

November 12, 2022 – Lowcountry Celebration Park

Hilton Head Island Lantern Parade

November 12, 2022 – Alder Beach Access to Coligny Beach Park

Winter Wonderland

December 2-21, 2022 – Shelter Cove Community Park


Getting to Hilton Head Island is easy! Many major airlines fly into Hilton Head Island Airport with non-stop flights and easy connections, and the flights are less frantic in the off-season! If you’re planning a scenic fall road trip through the Lowcountry, Hilton Head Island is only a 45-minute drive from Savannah and a 2.5 hour drive from Charleston. 

Experience coastal living at its finest this fall and start planning your getaway to Hilton Head Island with confidence and ease with the Sunset Package. Our selection of luxury Hilton Head vacation rentals are situated in the top HHI resort areas and range from cozy condos for two to multi-bedroom beachfront homes for family reunions, large group gatherings, or a golf buddies getaway to Hilton Head. If you’re looking to escape the cold and linger longer on Hilton Head, our monthly vacation rentals are available from October 1st to April 1st for a snowbird escape or extended stay on the island. 


Lowcountry Day Trips From Hilton Head Island

If you’re looking for adventures beyond the horizon of Hilton Head Island, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite lowcountry day trips. The Lowcountry lands of South Carolina and Georgia are full of beautiful beaches, serene marshes, and gorgeous mossy oaks to guide you along your vacation throughout the Lowcountry.

Hilton Head Island is the perfect middle ground to tour the surrounding area, with some of the most beautiful cities in the country only a day trip away. You can enjoy the paradise of Hilton Head Island, the charm of Georgia, and the historical city of Charleston all in one vacation.


Charleston

About a 2-hour drive from Hilton Head Island, you can find the beloved city of Charleston, the oldest and largest city in South Carolina. With traditional cobblestone roads, sandy beaches, historical architecture and southern charm, Charleston is well worth the drive.


Visit the Charleston Farmers Market for local vendors and lowcountry cuisine, the South Carolina Aquarium for educational tours and wildlife, and walk the historical streets of downtown Charleston to visit some of the most famous Charleston landmarks, like the Battery and Rainbow Row.


isle of palms

Only 20 minutes from Charleston and a 2.5-hour trip from Hilton Head Island, you’ll find Isle of Palms, a long stretch of sandy white beach. Known for world-class golf courses, spas, fine dining, and resorts, Isle of Palms is a favorite amongst Charleston locals.


Head over to Isle of Palms County Park for picnics, walks, and trails, or Isle of Palms Fishing Charters for fantastic views, waterway tours, and an unbeatable fishing experience.


kiawah island

Another South Carolina Lowcountry favorite is Kiawah Island, only about a 2-hour drive from Hilton Head Island. Kiawah Island is a top destination for luxury resorts living in harmony with nature. It features 10 miles of pristine beaches, maritime forests, sand dunes, and marshes. 


Freshfields Village is the perfect spot for lowcountry fine dining and luxury shopping. Beachwalker Park has plenty of wildlife sightings with beautiful views; and Bohicket Marina has action-packed adventures and watersports for the whole family.


Savannah

On the other side of Hilton Head Island, you’ll find Savannah, GA, just an hour’s drive away. Known for the Savannah Historic District and the Savannah River Front, there are plenty of places to explore.


Take a trolley through the Historic District full of live oaks and educational tours, wander through the shops and museums of Riverfront, or dine-in at some of the most famous local restaurants, like Vic’s on the River or Olde Pink House.


Daufuskie Island

Located just between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, sits Daufuskie Island. Although the island is only accessible by ferry, it is well worth the scenic trip. Locals love to travel over to Daufuskie for hiking, biking, fishing, or just exploring the pristine shoreline.


The Daufuskie Island Ferry transports you to and from the island, and while you’re there, be sure to visit Tour Daufuskie for water taxis, island tours, and rentals.


Beaufort

The town of historic sea islands, Beaufort, SC, is only an hour’s drive away. You’ll find coastal beaches, maritime forests, and scenic wetlands ready to be explored.


Hunting Island Beach is the best swimming spot with white sand and shady trees, while the rest of Beaufort is known for its classic southern charm in its museums, tours, and historical sites.


Jekyll island

Although a less popular vacation spot, Jekyll Island is full of adventure and beautiful sights to see. It’s a scenic 2-hour drive away, through the oak trees and over marshes. Jekyll Island is home to Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Summer Waves Water Park, sports centers, bike trails, and more.


Visit Summer Waves Water Park for water slides, pools, and fun for the whole family, then head over to Jekyll Island State Park to wind down the day with a bike ride and wildlife viewing.


tybee island

Only a 1.5-hour drive away, Tybee Island, GA is a small coastal community and one of the top-rated beaches in the US. Tybee Island is popular for all families, whether traveling with pets, children, or even couples.

There are plenty of small-town local shops like Seaside Sisters, ocean adventures, and classic lowcountry dining at Sundae Cafe or A-J’s Dockside.

Whether you’re looking for exciting outdoor activities, small town southern charm, or beautiful landscapes, adventure is only a short day trip away! Visit Hilton Head Island and find the perfect vacation rental from which to tour all that the Lowcountry has to offer.


Top Summer Tours on Hilton Head Island

A summer vacation on Hilton Head Island offers the best of both worlds – serenity and quiet seclusion away from the crowds and action-packed activities and adventures on land, along the Calibogue Sound, and in the warm Atlantic waters, that beckon you to dive right in! 

Hilton Head is “The South’s Best Beach Town” and is consistently ranked the “#1 Island in the US” in the World’s Best Awards. While Hilton Head’s 12-miles of unspoiled, natural beaches and Lowcountry landscapes are the top summer attractions, an abundance of unique experiences await on our small slice of paradise. 

Hilton Head Island was one of the top-booked summer destinations in 2021 so don’t leave your vacation planning to the last minute! Here’s our team’s favorite tours and experiences to add to your summer vacation itinerary on Hilton Head Island.


Dolphin Discovery Tours

Hilton Head Island is rated one of the 10 Best Dolphin Sighting Destinations in North America. The waters surrounding Hilton Head are home to a year-round population of over 170 inquisitive and friendly Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins cruising the sounds, creeks, Atlantic waters, and strand feeding along the muddy banks.

Experience our favorite locals up close and in the wild on a Dolphin Tour of Hilton Head Island, with chance encounters of manatees, otters, and sea turtles along the way. You’ll find dolphin encounters for every occasion on Hilton Head Island – pirate cruises for the kids, regular cruise boats departing the marinas, or small boats with freedom to follow the pods and engage in intimate encounters with Hilton Head’s dolphin pods in their natural habitat.


Kayak & Paddle Tours of the Waterways

Navigate the hidden creeks and pristine waterways and head off the beaten path on a kayak or SUP tour of Hilton Head. Hilton Head Island boasts 25 miles of back creeks, tidal salt marshes, and serene waterways teeming with wildlife, marine life, and beautiful shore birds. Surrounded only by the sounds of nature, Lowcountry serenity, and your travel tribe, nothing quite matches a Hilton Head eco-adventure along Calibogue Sound.

Get out in nature on a guided eco-tour with Outside Hilton Head, Hilton Head’s outdoor experts. With unique experiences ranging from guided tours with a naturalist and family SUP classes, to full moon kayak tours and fireworks paddles at Shelter Cove, there’s a tour for every traveler.


Boat Tours & Fishing Charters

If paddling your own boat is not your style, hop on a boat tour of Hilton Head Island and let someone else take the helm. Outside Hilton Head offers a wide variety of boat tours, cruises, fishing charters, and family water skiing adventures from Shelter Cove Marina, or head to Harbour Town in Sea Pines Resort Area.  

There are more unique boat tours operating from the Harbour Town Marina. Learn to sail the America’s Cup Stars & Stripes, trawl for shrimp aboard the Tammy Jane, take a sightseeing tour on the Vagabond, or take a luxury cruise on the Spirit of Harbour Town to experience the beauty of the Lowcountry in style.


Birdwatching Tours

With miles of Lowcountry coastal habitats and 300+ species of birds, Hilton Head Island is a prime destination for birding enthusiasts. Top birding destinations on Hilton Head include the Audubon Newhall Preserve, Sea Pines Forest Preserve, Fish Haul Beach Park, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. 

Birders have miles of trails to explore alone but Hilton Head Island’s birdlife is best experienced under the guide of a local, knowledgeable birdwatcher! The Coastal Discovery Museum offers walking tours of Pinckney Island at the northern tip of Hilton Head. The 4,000 acre preserve lies along the Atlantic Flyway with three unique birding habitats (salt marshes, maritime forests and freshwater lagoons), and an abundance of birdlife including duck, egret, pelicans, ibis, and the iconic Great Blue Heron. 


Hilton Head Bike Tours

Get ready to pedal! Hilton Head Island is a gold level bicycle friendly community with designated bike lanes, more than 60 miles of public trails, and 12-miles of hard-packed beaches to explore by bike. You can literally bike everywhere on Hilton Head Island and Sunset Rentals make it easy to get on the trails with an exclusive bike and beach gear credit program with Vayk Gear and complimentary rentals on select Sunset Rentals.

The Hilton Head Pedego Tour is always a hit with visitors to Hilton Head. Departing from Shelter Cove Plaza, the 2-hour tour cruises the Hilton Head bike trails highlighting the top attractions, history and culture of Hilton Head Island. Join a group tour or book a private bike tour just for the family!


Touring Sea Pines Preserve on Horseback

From the saddle of a Pedego to a western saddle! The 605-acre Sea Pines Forest Preserve is one of the most scenic settings on Hilton Head Island with secluded forests of Palmettos and moss-draped Oaks, lakes and fishing docks, wetland boardwalks, and historic ruins dating back over 4,000 years.

Visitors to Hilton Head can tour this protected wildlife habitat on horseback with Lawton Stables, a local equestrian center and top attraction on Hilton Head Island. Saddle up for a western style trail ride through the preserve (minimum age 8-years) or if you’re visiting Hilton Head Island with kids, the Shetland pony rides and petting zoo are always a hit with the kids.


Nature Tours at The Coastal Discovery Museum

The Coastal Discovery Museum at historic Honey Horn is not only a bird watcher’s paradise, it is a top Hilton Head destination for nature lovers with a museum in an original Hilton Head plantation house, historical landmarks, an interactive Kids Zone, and endless tours, nature programs, and on-site and off-site eco-activities for the whole family to enjoy.  

Guided tours include the marsh critters and creatures of the Lowcountry, the Marsh Tacky horses of Honey Horn, and tours of the historic plantation grounds and butterfly gardens. Coastal Discovery Museum tours extend beyond the Honey Horn plantation with off-site turtle tours, beach discovery tours, boat tours, and guided history tours of Hilton Head Island.


Guided History Tours of Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island lies in the Gullah Geechee Corridor, a National Heritage Area recognizing the authentic West African culture, traditions and customs of the South Carolina sea islands. The Gullah culture survived centuries of slavery and today visitors to Hilton Head can embark on a historic adventure with Gullah guides, born and raised on Hilton Head Island.

The Gullah Heritage Trail Tours at the Coastal Discovery Museum is an immersive experience of the Gullah communities on Hilton Head Island, the Gullah language, traditional foods, music, and more. Tour highlights include Gullah family compounds, plantation ruins and First Freedom Village, where freedom began in 1862 for Hilton Head. The Coastal Discovery Museum also offers tours of the Forts of Port Royal, occupied by the union forces during the civil war.


Tours of Daufuskie Island

Touring Daufuskie Island is a bucket-list day trip from Hilton Head Island. Daufuskie Island is a small (five by two miles) and remote island nestled between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, and only accessible by boat or ferry. 

Daufuskie Island abounds in natural beauty and boasts a rich history dating back to the early 1700s. Today, the Gullah heritage still thrives, and visitors can hop on a ferry to explore the uncrowded beaches, scenic bike paths and Lowcountry landscapes by foot, bike, or golf cart.

The best way to experience Daufuskie Island is on a guided tour. Daufuskie Trail Rides offer exclusive beach rides of the historical trails and beaches of Daufuskie Island or embark on a guided tour from Shelter Cove Marina with Outside Hilton Head.


Pirates of Hilton Head

Ahoy Matey! For the young pirates, lads and lassies in tow, nothing beats a swashbuckling adventure on Hilton Head Island’s only custom pirate ship, the Black Dagger. Climb aboard the Black Dagger at Harbour Town in Sea Pines, sail the coastline, fight off Stinky Pete for treasure, and celebrate the defeat of the island’s stinkiest pirate with singing, dancing and a share of the buried pirate booty! If you’re planning a family vacation to Hilton Head Island, it’s a must-do attraction and nautical adventure of note.


Summer Bubblegum Cruise

If you’re a regular vacationer to Hilton Head Island, you’ll know all about Gregg Russell’s famous, family friendly summer concerts under the Liberty Oak Tree at Harbour Town. Every evening through the summer, Greg entertains families with sing-alongs and games under the oak tree – but by day, he has adventures of a different kind. For over 25 years, the Summer Bubble Gum Cruise has been a Hilton Head Island favorite!

Embark on a 90-minute cruise with the kids aboard the Vagabond (every Friday) for an interactive and educational experience with dolphin spotting, singing and games, haunted lighthouses and ghost stories, and a treasure hunt at Harbour Town.


Aerial Tours of Hilton Head

A birds eye view of Hilton Head Island is unbeatable. The Zipline Canopy Tour at Adventure Hilton Head offers the highest views of the island from Broad Creek. The tour includes 7 ziplines, a swinging sky bridge, a spiral staircase in the trees, and a 900-foot long finale on a dual racing zipline. Take it a step further on the high ropes challenge course with 6 high ropes courses and 4 levels of difficulty from beginner greens to double black diamond challenges.

For the ultimate aerial tour of Hilton Head Island, take a climb in altitude along the South Carolina coastline on a Hilton Head helicopter tour. These tours offer unmatched views of the top Hilton Head attractions all the way to the remote shoreline of Daufuskie Island.


Sightseeing Tours of Savannah

The historic city of Savannah, Georgia is only 33 miles from Hilton Head and is easily accessible by car or boat. Savannah is one of the most loved cities in the Lowcountry with historic architecture and attractions, cobblestone streets, tree lined walkways, and tranquil water views from Savannah’s historic riverfront.

Shop along famous River Street, picnic at the fountains in Forsyth Park, indulge in Savannah’s foodie hot spots, and embark on a local sightseeing tour of Savannah. Unique Savannah experiences include culinary tours, hop-on hop-off trolley tours, segway tours, Savannah harbor tours, and ghost tours of Savannah, one of the most haunted cities in the US!


Sunset Dinner Cruises

Sail into the sunset on a romantic dinner cruise aboard the Spirit of Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island’s only sunset dinner cruise. Dine alfresco on the top deck with the best restaurant views in Hilton Head, sip on specialty cocktails and watch the HarbourFest fireworks from the water. For an evening of fine dining with live entertainment, dancing and sightseeing, you’ll create forever memories from the moment you climb aboard a classic Savannah Riverboat for a dinner entertainment cruise along the scenic Savannah River.


Take a Tour of Hilton Head Island’s Top Summer Vacation Rentals

Take a tour of our luxury Hilton Head Island summer vacation homes in the top resort areas of Hilton Head. With a portfolio of 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.   

Stay with Sunset Rentals and receive complimentary beach and bike gear credit on select vacation homes and villas, up to the value of $350! Whether you’re seeking kayaks, SUPs or bike rentals to adventure alone or chairs, umbrellas and beach toys for a family beach day, we make it easy to spend summer on Hilton Head Island. Turn your summer dreams to reality with Sunset Rentals!

10 Reasons to Vacation in Port Royal Hilton Head


The Port Royal Plantation on Hilton Head is a smaller resort area on the northeastern curve of the island, known as the heel of Hilton Head Island. If you’re seeking quieter seclusion away from the crowds, yet still staying close to the top attractions and activities on Hilton Head Island, the Port Royal Plantation is the Hilton Head destination for you!

Southern Living’s “The South’s Best 2022 Awards” recently ranked Hilton Head Island #1 in The South’s Best Beach Towns 2022. With southern charm and hospitality, award-winning golf and tennis, tranquil nature walks and bike paths, and miles of unspoiled, sandy beaches at your doorstep – Port Royal is a top destination to spend your vacation on Hilton Head Island.

1. UNTOUCHED NATURAL BEAUTY


From lush Lowcountry landscapes to stunning Atlantic seascapes, natural beauty abounds in Port Royal Plantation. Guests have access to miles of scenic trails weaving through old moss-laden oak trees, saltwater estuaries and freshwater lagoons for fishing and crabbing, and wild, secluded beaches along the historic Port Royal Sound and Atlantic Ocean.

The top activities in the Port Royal Resort Area include fishing, crabbing, bike riding (bring your own or rent locally), exploring the historic sites on a golf cart, and simply living the coastal lifestyle on Port Royal’s beautiful stretch of beaches.

2. AMAZING BEACHES & BEACH CREDIT!


The Port Royal Plantation is home to some of the best and quietest beaches on Hilton Head Island. Islander Beach Park is one of the best beaches on Hilton Head Island with a shady park for beach BBQs and picnics, a large playground for the kids, wide stretches of sandy beaches and calm Atlantic waters for swimming. Other nearby options for a beach day include Folly Field Beach, Driessen Beach, and Burkes Beach – swim, surf, sunbathe and enjoy ocean adventures in Port Royal Plantation on Hilton Head Island.

For a different beach experience, Fish Haul Beach Park is a hidden gem overlooking the Port Royal Sound. While it’s not the best beach for swimming on Hilton Head, you can walk the pristine shoreline to historic Mitchelville Beach Park, birdwatch from the observation deck, hike the enchanting beach trails, and beachcomb for unique shells. Fish Haul Beach Park features four unique habitats – maritime forests, marshlands and creeks, ancient sand dunes and the tranquil Port Royal tidal flats.

Beach Credit! Sunset Rentals offer complimentary beach gear packages in select Port Royal vacation rentals. Whether you’re looking for top quality beach gear, kayak and paddle board rentals, boogie boards to ride the waves or beach games for a day by the ocean, we’ve got your vacation beach gear in Port Royal covered!

3. TEE OFF ONE OF THE TOP EXOTIC GOLF COURSES IN THE WORLD


The Heritage Golf Collection on Hilton Head Island features 81 holes of championship golf at the Shipyard Golf Club, the Oyster Reef Golf Club, and two world-class courses at the Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club. Nestled along the Atlantic Coastline, the Port Royal Golf Club is ranked one of the “Top 75 US Golf Resorts” by Golf Digest and one of the “Top 10 Exotic Golf Courses in the World”.

For warming up and to improve your game, the Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club features a world-class practice facility with a driving range, putting green, and short game practice area with PGA professional instruction throughout the year. The Port Royal Club is also home to Hilton Head Island’s first FootGolf Course – golf with a soccer ball and great fun for the whole family!

The Barony Course is one of the first golf courses on Hilton Head Island, designed by George W. Cobb in the early 1960s and set in lush Lowcountry landscapes. Robbers Row Course was later designed by George W. Cobb and William C. Byrd in 1967, one of the most exotic golf courses in the world set on former Civil War grounds, rich in history and natural beauty with live oaks, magnolias and luxury homes lining the fairways. Golfers can enjoy after golf happy hour and the tastes of the Lowcountry at Robbers Row Grill in the southern mansion-style Port Royal Clubhouse.

4. CHAMPIONSHIP TENNIS CENTER


The Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club is also ranked one of the Top 25 Tennis Resorts in the World! The Port Royal Racquet Club offers top-notch tennis instruction and award-winning tennis on eight new Har-Tru clay courts in a scenic setting on Hilton Head Island. Pickleball is a Hilton Head Island tradition and if you’re not yet a player, the Port Royal Racquet Club is the perfect place to get up to speed with America’s fastest growing sport!

5. HISTORICAL SITES & ATTRACTIONS


The historical Port Royal Sound and Port Royal Plantation is the original landing site of Captain William Hilton on the island in 1663. The Battle of Port Royal began in 1861 and the town of Mitchelville was established in 1862, the first self-governed town of freed slaves in America. You’ll find historical sites and markers across the Port Royal Plantation at Fort Walker Park, Steam Gun Beach, Fort Sherman, Fish Haul and Fort Mitchel, and along the fairways of the Robbers Row Golf Course.

Experience the rich history of Port Royal on a walking tour of historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, a Gullah Heritage Tour of the historic Gullah neighborhoods, or a living history tour of the Zion Chapel of Ease and Baynard Mausoleum, the resting place of four Revolutionary War Heroes and the oldest structure on Hilton Head Island. The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horns offers guided and self-guided tours of the historic sites on Hilton Head Island.

The Port Royal Plantation is only a short drive from the charming Lowcountry town of Bluffton, SC. Take a walking tour of the historic Spanish-moss draped homes and buildings in Old Town Bluffton nestled among the stately oaks along the May River.

6. PORT ROYAL ARBORETUM


Visitors to the Port Royal resort area have access to the Port Royal Arboretum, a quaint arboretum nestled near Fort Sherman, between Fort Walker Drive and the Robbers Row Golf Course. The arboretum features paved walkways, nature paths through ferns, cypresses and palmettos, scenic overlooks, an azalea garden, and is full of wildlife and native Lowcountry plants.

7. AWAY FROM THE CROWDS


Port Royal Plantation is a quieter Hilton Head Island community, away from the crowds yet only a short drive (or energetic bike ride!) away from the attractions, restaurants, shopping and activities in neighboring Hilton Head Island resort areas. If you’re seeking a quieter vacation on Hilton Head, look no further than Port Royal Plantation.

8. NEARBY DINING & SHOPPING


Port Royal Plantation is close to Hilton Head’s best dining and shopping, yet you have amazing options close to home too! Guests have an option of outdoor patios with poolside and oceanfront dining at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and Marriott Barony Beach Club, Lowcountry cuisine at the Robbers Row Grill, and you’re only a short drive to Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks and Skull Creek Boathouse for waterfront dining on Skull Creek.

9. CLOSE TO HILTON HEAD’S TOP RESORT AREAS & ATTRACTIONS


Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina

Distance: 3 miles

  • Waterfront on Broad Creek
  • Accessible by Bike Path
  • Dining, Shopping & Entertainment
  • Watersports, Activities & Eco-Tours
  • Boat Rentals & Fishing Charters
  • Year-Round Events, Festivals & Live Music

Palmetto Dunes Resort Area

Distance: 3.5 miles

  • 3 Miles of Immaculate Beachfront
  • Three Championship Golf Courses
  • Seasonal Palmetto Dunes Buggy
  • Quick Access to Shelter Cove Marina
  • World-Renowned Tennis Center
  • Miles of bike trails

Shipyard Resort Area

Distance: 6.6 miles

  • Shipyard private beach access 
  • Miles of scenic trails 
  • Championship Golf & Tennis Center 
  • Centrally located to Hilton Head downtown 
  • Great location for family reunions, and gatherings 
  • Access to the Shipyard Beach Club 
  • 20 Tennis Courts located in Shipyard

Forest Beach Resort Area

Distance: 7.3 miles

  • More than 100 shops and restaurants
  • Miles of walking, jogging, and biking trails
  • Updated Coligny Beach Entrance
  • Free Family Entertainment
  • Miles of Sandy white beaches

Sea Pines Plantation

Distance: 8.5 miles

  • 5 Miles of Sandy White Beaches
  • Easily accessible beach access passes 
  • Three World-Class Golf Courses
  • Tennis Facilities
  • Restaurants, Entertainment, and Shopping at Harbour Town
  • Miles of Bike, Jogging, and Walking Trails
  • Sea Pines Trolley Available

10. PORT ROYAL PLANTATION VILLA COMMUNITIES


Port Royal Village has quiet golf villa communities nestled along the fairways of the Barony Golf Course, boasting tranquil Lowcountry lagoon and golf views, and seasonal pools (perfect for an after-golf or after-beach dip!), and walking distance to oceanfront dining at the Port Royal resort hotels.

The Links Villas

3 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom Golf Villas, Sleeps 6-8

$250 Beach Gear Credit included

The Links in Port Royal Village are spacious, luxury Lowcountry style golf villas, located on the Port Royal Barony Golf Course, a short walk from the Marriott Barony, Westin Hotel, and Islanders Beach Park. Our selection of Port Royal Links Villas boast views of the Barony fairways, access to a seasonal community pool, and select villas include a golf cart for your vacation in Port Royal. 

Devonshire & Beckenham Villas

2-3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom Golf Villas, Sleeps 6-9

$250 Beach Gear Credit included

The Devonshire and Beckenham Villa complexes are nestled nearby on the banks of a tranquil lagoon overlooking the 9th hole of the Barony Golf Course. These quiet Port Royal communities share a sparkling seasonal pool on the fairways, a BBQ area and picnic sites on the lagoon, and are a short walk to miles of Atlantic Coast beaches on Hilton Head Island.

Sunset Rentals proudly boast one of Hilton Head Island’s largest selection of private vacation homes and villas in the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island, and complete with all the amenities for a luxury vacation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Start planning your Hilton Head Island vacation today with our team of vacation specialists at Sunset Rentals.