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!


Shipyard Plantation Vacation


Nestled on 800 acres between Sea Pines Resort Area and Palmetto Dunes Plantation on the south end of Hilton Head Island, Shipyard Plantation is the smallest and most serene resort area on Hilton Head. Shipyard Plantation abounds in natural beauty and offers visitors a welcoming vacation retreat away from the crowds yet within easy reach of Hilton Head’s best restaurants, shops, tourist attractions, and eco-adventures

Shipyard Plantation has two entrance gates, one on William Hilton Parkway (278) and one on Pope Avenue near Coligny Plaza. Winding roads and scenic trails lead through towering pines, tropical palms, moss-draped oaks, and scented magnolias to award-winning golf courses, top-rated tennis facilities, and private beach access at the Shipyard Beach Club. 

A vacation in Shipyard Plantation offers visitors the best of both worlds, a quiet island retreat with a relaxing coastal vibe and world-class resort amenities, and the top attractions, activities and events on Hilton Head Island just a bike ride away from your luxury Shipyard villa or vacation home. 


Private Beach Access

Guests of Shipyard Plantation enjoy private beach access to Hilton Head’s award-winning beaches at the Shipyard Beach Club, the finest beach club on Hilton Head Island! The Shipyard Beach Club is situated next to the exclusive Sonesta Resort on the northeast corner of the plantation with an oceanfront deck and bar to end your day of coastal experiences on the best pet-friendly beaches in South Carolina! 

The private beach access at Shipyard is a scenic bike ride from all Shipyard Plantation villa complexes and the beaches are seasonally lifeguarded for a safe family vacation on Hilton Head. Sunset Rentals have a wide selection of Beachwalk Villas near the Shipyard private beach access and we partner with Vayk Gear to provide our guests with complimentary beach gear on select rentals for classic beach days during your stay in Shipyard Plantation.


Tranquil Bike Trails

There are four miles of peaceful paved bike paths within Shipyard Plantation with a maze of lakes and lagoons for fishing, rolling fairways, and lush Lowcountry landscapes. Hilton Head Island is one of the most bike-friendly destinations in the US and the central location of Shipyard Plantation means you can literally bike anywhere! 

Exploring on two wheels is a fun activity for the whole family, eliminates the traffic and parking problems in peak season, and saves on hefty gas prices! Our complimentary Vayk gear includes not only top quality beach gear rentals, but top quality bike rentals for the whole family too. Stay in a participating Shipyard vacation home or villa rental, have your Vayk bike rentals delivered to your front door, and explore Shipyard Plantation, the beautiful beaches, and beyond by bike.


Award-Winning Golf Courses

The Shipyard Golf Club is part of the Hilton Head Island Heritage Golf Collection and features three championship golf courses – the Clipper Course and Galleon Course by George W Cobb, and the Brigantine Course by Willard C. Byrd. These award-winning golf courses are ranked among the best and most scenic golf courses in Hilton Head and cater for all levels of play, there’s even footgolf for the kids! 

Aside from legendary golf for the entire family, Shipyard Golf Club offers a family-oriented practice facility and driving range, a gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the lagoons, and amazing pub grub with daily happy hours at the Brickyard Pub. Our Shipyard golf villas offer a tranquil retreat for the ultimate golf getaway in Shipyard Plantation. 


Top Tennis in the USA

Hilton Head Island is ranked one of the best tennis resorts in the US and is a top destination for tennis lovers. The award-winning Van Der Meer Racquet Club offers an exceptional tennis experience with 20 championship courts (including covered courts and night courts), basic clinics for beginners, world-class drill sessions for pros, professional junior clinics, and fun summer camps for the kids.   

If tennis is your game, Shipyard Plantation won’t disappoint! Our Tennismaster vacation villas are situated only minutes from the award-winning Van Der Meer Racquet Club, the Sonesta Resort and private beach access to miles of beaches, ocean activities, and classic beach days at Shipyard Beach Club.


Hilton Head’s Top Attractions at Your Doorstep

Shipyard Plantation lures vacationers seeking the seclusion and serenity of a private beach community yet easy access to the attractions and festivities that draw vacationers from around the world to Hilton Head Island. With Sea Pines Resort Area to the south, Palmetto Dunes Plantation to the north, the Village of Wexford near the Main Gate, and Coligny Plaza just a short bike ride away – you’re perfectly placed for the ultimate vacation on Hilton Head Island.   

Many of our guest simply stay close soaking up the serenity of Shipyard Plantation! When you’re not basking on Hilton Head’s best beaches, staying active with sports and wildlife viewing on the trails, you’ll find shopping, oceanfront dining, and luxury spa treatments at Sonesta Resort or settle in to your Lowcountry vacation home for quality family time, leisurely pool days, Lowcountry boils on the grill, and wildlife viewing or birdwatching from your own backyard.


Luxury Lowcountry Vacation Rentals

The quiet neighborhoods of Shipyard Plantation are home to luxury low-rise villa complexes and spacious family homes nestled in large old oaks with a choice of golf views, wooded view, or lagoon views. Whether you’re planning a tennis or golf getaway to Hilton Head Island, a family vacation with the kids, or a romantic escape for two in quiet seclusion (with bustling waterfront restaurants and bars a bike ride away!), Sunset Rentals has a luxury Lowcountry vacation rental in Shipyard to suit your style.

Take a tour of our exclusive selection of Shipyard Plantation vacation homes and villas, book online for the best rates and exceptional guest services from our local team and experience the beauty of Hilton Head Island from the serenity of the Shipyard Plantation Resort Area.

Beachwalk

2-3 Bedroom Vacation Villas

Closest Villa Complex to Shipyard Beach Club

On-site Community Pool

Colonnade Club

2-3 Bedroom Vacation Villas

Next to Beachwalk Villas

On-site Pool, Spa, and Gas Grills

Evian

2-3 Bedroom Villa Rentals 

On the Brigantine Golf Course  

Olympic Size Pool & Tennis Courts 

The Greens

2-3 Bedroom Vacation Villas

On the Galleon Golf Course

On-site Community Pool

Golfmaster

3 Bedroom Villa Rentals

On the Clipper Golf Course

On-site Community Pool & Tennis Courts

Sailmaster

2 Bedroom Vacation Villas

On the Brigantine Golf Course  

On-site Community Pool

Shipmaster

2 Bedroom Vacation Villas

On the Galleon Golf Course

On-site Community Pool

Tennismaster

2-3 Bedroom Vacation Villas

Near Shipyard Van der Meer Tennis Center

On-site Community Pool

Cottages

2-3 Bedroom Villa Rentals

Near Pope Ave Gate Entrance  

On-site Community Pool & Hot Tub

Windward Village

2 Bedroom Vacation Condos

Near Pope Ave Gate Entrance

On-site Community Pool, Hot Tub & Firepits

Gloucester Road Vacation Homes

3-5 Bedroom Private Vacation Homes 

Pet-Friendly & Pool Homes Available

Kingston Dunes Vacation Homes

3-4 Bedroom Private Vacation Homes

Pet-Friendly Options Available 

Sunset Rentals have been welcoming visitors to Hilton Head Island since 1993. Our exclusive Sunset Package offers a 48-hour worry-free guarantee and flexible cancellation policy, express check-in, a starter pack of vacation essentials, and bike and beach gear credit valued up to $350! 

You can book your vacation to Shipyard Plantation on Hilton Head Island with confidence and ease when you vacation with Sunset Rentals.


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.