Hilton Head Island was named the #1 Island in the U.S. and Canada in Travel+Leisure 2021 World’s Best Awards for the 5th consecutive year! The award-winning Palmetto Dunes is one of the most well-known and popular resort areas of Hilton Head, nestled mid-island on 2,000 acres of lush oceanfront landscapes with world-class amenities, 3-miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, luxury oceanfront accommodation, and bike paths leading to the top attractions and iconic landmarks on Hilton Head Island.
Palmetto Dunes central location in the heart of the island makes it the ultimate Hilton Head vacation destination for families looking to stay close to the action (and the beach!). Whether you’re a nature lover, beach-goer, adventure seeker or sportsman, this highly-desirable Hilton Head plantation offers solace, excitement and island experiences for all types of travelers.
1. PALMETTO DUNES BEACH ACCESS
Palmetto Dunes is a beach lovers paradise with 3 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches all within a short walk or bike ride from your Palmetto Dunes vacation rental. Spend your vacation in an oceanfront home or villa in Palmetto Dunes with private beach boardwalks or ride your bike or the seasonal Dune Buggy to the Disney Beach House or Dunes House with bike racks, restroom facilities, and an oceanfront bar and restaurant for a quintessential island-style beach day.
Take a bike ride or stroll along the shoreline, rent a surfboard to play in the waves, build sandcastles or simply soak up the warm sun and Lowcountry charm of Palmetto Dunes.
2. PALMETTO DUNES 11-MILE LAGOON SYSTEM
Rent a kayak or canoe and escape into nature on the Palmetto Dunes Lagoon System. The inland waterways weave for 11-miles through the plantation with an abundance of wildlife, over 40 species of birds, rewarding fishing spots and boat launches to get on the water. Hilton Head Outfitters are located near the General Store and are your one-stop shop for outdoor activities and rentals, and Sunset Rentals selection of lagoon-front villas offer the ultimate retreat for a nature escape in Palmetto Dunes.
Play a challenging and scenic round on three world-class golf championship golf courses: the top-ranked Robert Trent Jones course with ocean views, the challenging George Fazio Golf Course with new state-of-the-art greens, and the Arthur Hills Course, one of South Carolina’s most unique and scenic golf layouts in lush, Lowcountry landscapes on the south shores of Palmetto Dunes Resort Area.
The Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy has outstanding private golf instruction and group clinics with programs for all levels and the three Palmetto Dunes championship courses all feature welcoming clubhouses with on-site golf shops, Srixon golf club rentals (and shipping services!), and relaxed dining experience for a memorable golf vacation on Hilton Head, the Golf Island!
4. TENNIS & RACQUET CLUBS IN PALMETTO DUNES
Hilton Head is one of the top tennis destinations in the US! The Palmetto Dunes Tennis & Pickleball Center ranks among the best tennis resorts and was recently named the “Pickleball Resort of the Year” by Racquet Sports Magazine.
The award-winning sports center features 19 clay tennis courts (four lighted for night play), 24 dedicated pickleball courts (all lighted for night play), professional instruction for tennis and pickleball, and seasonal clinics for all ages. Palmetto Dunes promises the best pickleball and tennis vacation you’ve ever had!
5. WATER ACTIVITIES AT SHELTER COVE HARBOUR & MARINA
Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina lies on Broad Creek at the entrance to Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort – a premier waterfront destination for shopping, dining and endless activitieson the Lowcountry waterways. The colorful marina is lined with rentals of every kind from high-speed power boats, jet skis and catamarans to fishing pontoons and luxury sailboats.
Whatever level of adventure sparks your wanderlust, you’ll find it at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. Captain your own boat or choose from a selection of saltmarsh paddle tours, dolphin discoveries, fishing charters, eco-tours, party boats, pirate adventures or picture perfect sunset cruises in the awe-inspiring Lowcountry waterways, marshlands and creeks.
6. SHOPPING & RESTAURANTS IN PALMETTO DUNES (and nearby!)
The waterfront promenade along the Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina has a selection of shops, galleries, outdoor patios with live music and marina views, and award-winning restaurants with the best seafood on Hilton Head Island! The nearby Shelter Cove Town Center is an open-air Mediterranean style village that lures shoppers, foodies and families with a selection of over 30 shops and restaurants, a rooftop bar for nightlife on Hilton Head, and a community park overlooking Broad Creek, host to year-round events and Hilton Head’s famous HarbourFest.
Palmetto Dunes is centrally located mid-island on Hilton Head Island so you’re only a short bike ride from outstanding beachfront shops and restaurants at Coligny Plaza and waterfront delights at Harbour Town in Sea Pines Resort.
7. EASY TO GET AROUND PALMETTO DUNES
Palmetto Dunes has a 5-mile network of well-maintained paved bike trails throughout the plantation and connecting to the other resort areas of Hilton Head Island. Load up the bike ride or speak with a Sunset Rentals vacation specialist about our state-of-the-art bike rentals and complimentary Vayk Gear rentals at select Palmetto Dunes vacation homes and villas. There is no fee to bike the trails in Palmetto Dunes.
The Palmetto Dunes Buggy is a seasonal free shuttle service that serves the beaches, golf clubs and tennis facilities in the Palmetto Dunes resort area, as well as Shelter Cove Marina & Town Center. The buggy runs from 8am to 9pm daily from April through September with an on-call service to take you where you need to go within the plantation!
Palmetto Dunes Private Beach & Golf Vacation Home Rentals
There are many perks to staying in a private home on vacation – Gather the whole crew under one roof, enjoy space and privacy away from the crowds, large gourmet kitchens, spacious master suites, full laundry rooms for convenience (it doesn’t end on vacation!), intimate waterfront docks on the lagoon, private beach boardwalks, heated pools and spas just for you, and the list goes on!
Our selection of luxury vacation homes in the Palmetto Dunes resort area are located throughout the plantation – beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean, on the world-class Robert Trent Jones Golf Course and waterfront on Palmetto Dunes 11-mile lagoon system – with luxury amenities to suit even the most distinguished guests.
Spend any season in our slice of paradise and you’ll understand why Hilton Head is the “Top Island in the Continental US” and continually voted one of the best vacation destinations in the world! Cross the bridge from Bluffton, step back in time in iconic Lowcountry landscapes, and experience luxury island style living among the unspoiled wildlife refuges, nature preserves and award-winning tropical beaches on Hilton Head Island.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND NATURE PRESERVES
Hilton Head’s wildlife refuges, natural preserves and historical parks feature in our Top Sights to See on Hilton Head Island. Raised wetland boardwalks and trails for hiking, biking and horse riding weave through coastal habitats with ancient dunes, wildlife and wildflowers, beautiful birdlife, and rentals, activities and guided tours for all ages to escape in an untouched natural setting, equally as alluring as our beautiful beaches.
Sea Pines Forest Preserve
Audubon Newhall Preserve
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Coastal Discovery Museum
Mitchelville Freedom Park
THE BEACHES OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND
Hilton Head Island boasts 12 miles of unspoiled, sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean on the South Carolina coastline. Pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming! Our beaches are consistently voted among the best beaches in the USA and the world and are easily accessible by scenic bike rides, old-school trolleys and oceanfront rentals throughout the unique resort areas of the island.
Hilton Head Island offers a unique beach vacation for every type of traveler. Whether you’re seeking a secluded stretch of sand, wildlife cruises and eco-tours, thrilling aquatic adventures, or a fun island vibe with sundowners and live music on the sand, you can experience it all on Hilton Head! Here’s our guide to beaches in the top resort areas of Hilton Head Island.
FOREST BEACH AREA
The Forest Beach Area is the “Hilton Head Hot Spot” located on the south end of Hilton Head between Shipyard and Sea Pines, and anchored by Coligny Plaza for shopping, dining and live entertainment to break up your day on the beach.
Coligny Beach Park: The award-winning Coligny Beach Park is the most popular beach on Hilton Head and is centrally located an easy bike or trolley ride away from your vacation home. There’s excellent amenities, entertainment for the kids, summer rentals for beach and ocean activities, and the legendary Tiki Hut on the sand to end your day island style.
Alder Lane Beach: Alder Lane Beach is slightly away from the crowds, a mile south of Coligny Plaza on South Forest Beach Drive. The beach is less crowded with summer lifeguards for families, restrooms, outdoor showers and handicap matting for easy beach access.
SHIPYARD BEACH CLUB
The Shipyard Plantation is the smallest plantation on Hilton Head nestled oceanfront between Sea Pines Resort and Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. While you’re only a short walk or bike ride from Coligny Beach and the Dunes House in Palmetto, guests of Shipyard have exclusive access to five-star amenities, an oceanfront deck, and a wide stretch of sandy beach at the oceanfront Shipyard Beach Club.
SEA PINES BEACH CLUB
The Sea Pines Resort Area dominates the southern end of Hilton Head Island with 5 miles of sandy beaches along the Atlantic coastline, and private beach access to Sea Pines guests only. Ride your bikes to the boardwalks, hop on the Sea Pines Trolley to the Beach Club or stay oceanfront with a private boardwalk to a secluded stretch of beach. The Beach Club is a true island retreat with an oceanfront beach bar and restaurant, world-class amenities, and picture perfect white sands dotted with blue umbrellas and beach-goers soaking up the sun.
PALMETTO DUNES BEACH
The Palmetto Dunes Resort Area boasts 3-miles of pristine oceanfront beauty with wide sandy beaches, gentle ocean waters and super easy public beach access along Mooring Buoy, Ocean Lane and Dunes House. Ride your bikes, hop on the free Dunes Buggy or arrive early to find a parking spot at the oceanfront Dunes House, the perfect place to end your beach day with cool cocktails, fish tacos and ocean views in the laid-back beach bar and restaurant.
As you head north from Palmetto Dunes, the beaches are quieter, and you’ll find hidden gems perfect for swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, beach picnics, and a scenic, fun-filled family day at the beach.
Burkes Beach: For a pet-friendly beach day on Hilton Head, make your way to Burkes Beach. Burkes Beach is located next to Chaplin Community Park with parking, biking trails, sports courts, a playground, a dog park and trails to a wide, sandy, lifeguarded beach.
Driessen Beach: Driessen Beach is another mid-island gem next to Burkes Beach at the end of Bradley Beach Road. A wooden boardwalk leads through a natural forest to a covered picnic pavilion, outdoor showers and restrooms, a water station and a beautiful stretch of shoreline with seasonal lifeguards for the kids to play safely in the ocean.
Folly Field Beach: If you’re looking for the local hangout, you’ll find them away from the crowds at Folly Field Beach on Starfish Drive. Folly Field Beach has all the amenities of Coligny for a beach day and is the best place to learn to surf on Hilton Head! Go on, rent a board and ride the waves!
PORT ROYAL PLANTATION BEACHES
Staying in Port Royal gives you access to 19 beach walk paths on the historic Port Royal Sound and the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. Islanders Beach Park is just north of Folly Field Beach and is one of the best family-friendly beaches on Hilton Head with a shady park and pavilion for picnics, a large playground, and a boardwalk to a wide, uncrowded beach. For shells, shorebirds and complete seclusion head to Fish Haul Beach Park overlooking the Port Royal Sound. This off-the-beaten path gem boasts untouched natural beauty with a boardwalk and observation deck for birdwatching, enchanting nature trails and a secluded shoreline (not recommended for swimming!).
Book Your Next Hilton Head Island Vacation with Sunset Rentals!
Sunset Rentals have been welcoming vacationers to Hilton Head Island since 1993, some have made it their home and many return year after year. We offer complimentary beach gear packages in select rentals, and we know where to stay & play on Hilton Head Island!
The distinctive Lowcountry scenery and tranquil waterways on Hilton Head Island provide the perfect canvas for some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever witness. As the sun dips slowly below the horizon, fiery palettes of reds, oranges, pinks, and purples paint the skies casting a warm glow over Hilton Head’s white sandy shoreline, untouched preserves, and waterfront marinas abuzz with tours, activities, and sunset dining experiences that top the charts! No filters required!
Whatever beach sunset vibe you’re after, you’ll find it here on Hilton Head Island. From hip, happening happy hours on the sand and landmark waterfront restaurants on the creeks to secluded paddling adventures alongside pods of dolphins, here’s our guide to the best sunset spots on Hilton Head Island, and epic sunset experiences to make it extra special!
The beaches on Hilton Head Island are consistently ranked among the most picturesque in the world, but are extra special with the candy-colored glow of sunset resting on the calm waters. Slip off your flip-flops for a sunset stroll or beach bike ride along the shoreline, or stop by Coligny Plaza for picnic goods from Piggly Wiggly or a Lowcountry cheese or charcuterie board to go from Rollers for a sunset picnic on the sand.
Local Tip: Stay with Sunset Rentals and receive complimentary Vayk gear including beach chairs & umbrellas and top quality bike gear for the whole family!
Phone: (843) 785-5126 Hours: Daily 11 AM to 10 PM Seasonal Live Music: See the lineup HERE! Reservations: First come, first serve
If beach volleyball and barefoot cocktails on the sand are more your vibe, the Hilton Head Island Tiki Hut on Coligny Beach is an island icon that offers up an insta-worthy sunset with beachside bites, hand-crafted frozen cocktails, a chilled atmosphere, and an epic line up of live music and jam sessions in all four seasons.
Local Tip: For fewer crowds, take a short walk along the shoreline to sample “the best frozen drink you’re ever going to get” at Pool Bar Jim’s. Jim’s frozen creations include original recipes like the Daufuskie Freeze, Margaritas, and Mojitos served with old-fashioned southern hospitality with a tropical touch!
Phone: (843) 842-1888 Hours: Daily 11:30 AM to 9 PM (Beach Bar 10 PM) Seasonal Live Music: 4 PM to 7 PM Reservations: Reservations recommended for dinner
Situated in the Sea Pines Resort area of Hilton Head, the Beach Club boasts an oceanfront patio for sunset dining, a rooftop lounge and bar for upscale cocktails, and a wrap-around beach bar with walk-up service for beachgoers. You can literally have your Hilton Head sunset on the rocks, shaken, or stirred, while being serenaded by live music in season.
Local Tip: Parking is limited! You can hop on the Sea Pines Trolley or stay local! Our Turtle Lane Townhomes are steps from the Sea Pines Beach Club with two swimming pools (one seasonally heated!), private beach access, and stunning sunsets on your doorstep. You must be a guest in Sea Pines to enjoy the Beach Club.
Phone: (843) 671-2233 Hours: Daily 8 AM to 10 PM Happy Hour: 4 PM to 6 PM Reservations: First come, first serve
The legendary Salty Dog Café is one of the most visited restaurants on the island! Whether it’s the waterfront location in the New England-inspired village, the succulent seafood and award-winning crab legs, or Salty Dog’s stunning Lowcountry sunsets over Braddock Creek that spark your interest, it’s a must-do dining experience with a must-see Hilton Head Island sunset!
Phone: (843) 593-9104 Hours: Daily 11 AM to 6 PM Seasonal Live Music: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday Reservations: First come, first serve
The Dunes House is the best sunset spot in the Palmetto Dunes resort area. Dunes House is a laid-back beach bar and oceanfront restaurant with an outdoor kitchen serving casual cuisine and cool cocktails, seasonal live music, and spectacular ocean views to watch the sunset on Hilton Head.
Local Tip: Dunes House is open only to guests staying in the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort area! It’s no coincidence you’re here at Sunset Rentals! Click HERE to find your sunset rental in Palmetto Dunes and you can walk from home or hop on the Dunes Buggy!
Local Tip: Visitors staying outside the Sea Pines Resort area are required to pay a $9 cash gate fee to enter. Guests of Sea Pines can ride the free Sea Pines Trolley with 4 routes around the resort area.
Phone: (866) 305-9814 Hours: Daily 10 AM to sundown Admission: $5.75 per adult, children 5 and under free
The red and white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse is an iconic Hilton Head landmark with breathtaking views over Calibogue Sound and Daufuskie Island. Climb 114 steps through the museum to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic 360-degree views of the sun casting silhouettes over the water, Lowcountry marshes, and Harbour Town Yacht Basin.
Local Tip: Planning a special event on Hilton Head? The Harbour Town Lighthouse is available for private events and special celebrations for up to 40 guests and you’ll find a stylish place to stay in Sea Pines with Sunset Rentals!
H20 Sports at Harbour Town Yacht Basin offers a wide variety of activities, water sports rentals, and sunset tours on Calibogue Sound and Broad Creek. Choose from a 1.5 hour sunset dolphin tour, a 2-hour sunset sail aboard the 38’ SUMO trimaran (the fastest boat on Hilton Head), or reserve a wave runner or boat rental to sail into the sunset at your own pace.
Local Tip: Reserve a table at Quarterdeck next door to H20 Sports (open till 9 PM daily) to return for fresh-caught seafood and specialty sunset cocktails on the Harbour Town waterfront.
Phone: (843) 363-2722 Hours: Daily 11 AM to 9 PM Happy Hour: Daily 4 PM to 6 PM Reservations: Reservations recommended
Located at the famed Liberty Oak in Harbour Town, the Crazy Crab is a Hilton Head hotspot for sunset dining with amazing happy hour specials to settle in for golden hour. There are red rockers right outside the door to relax after dinner, watch the boats, and catch an iconic Greg Russell concert under the Liberty Oak in spring or summer.
Local Tip: For easy access to Harbour Town and breathtaking sunset views from home, look no further than our Schooner Court Villa, a luxurious 4-bedroom townhome with unparalleled Harbour Town Marina views!
For a more solitary sunset, escape to Sea Pines Forest Preserve, a 650-acre protected nature preserve with pet-friendly trails winding through four unique habitats including ancient maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, fishing ponds, and meadows of wildflowers teeming with wildlife and natural wonder.
Local Tip: Make a day of it and book a horseback ride through Sea Pines Forest Preserve with Lawton Stables or a guided alligator & wildlife boat tour of the lakes with H20 Sports.
Phone: (843) 341-4600 Hours: 7 PM to 10 PM Admission: Free Date: Every Friday Night from June through August
Pack a picnic for Sunset Celebration on the waterfront at Shelter Cove Community Park with live music and laid-back family entertainment on the banks of Broad Creek. The summer concert series is free, pet-friendly, and perfect for a sunset picnic in the park. Stop by Kroger for picnic basket goodies or pick up to-go from one of Towne Centre’s local eateries.
Local Tip: You can watch the sunset from home at Anchorage Villas, only steps from Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina with private lagoons and a large heated private pool – perfect for poolside sunsets away from the crowds.
Situated at the base of the Cross Island Expressway Bridge, Palmetto Bay Marina is one of Hilton Head’s original fishing marinas with beautiful west-facing views of Broad Creek and Spanish Wells. From sport fishing charters, pirate cruises, and Lowcountry watersports (including the latest craze of Creek Cats) to shopping and dining, you can spend the whole day playing at Palmetto Bay Marina before sailing into the sunset.
Local Tip: End your sunset experience at the Carolina Crab Company, Black Marlin Bayside Grill, or waterfront Hurricane Bar, all famous for their fantastic happy hours, Lowcountry seafood, laid-back vibes, and unbeatable sunset views!
Phone: (843) 363-8335 Admission: Free Date: April & May
If live music is high on your list of things to do on Hilton Head, hop off your creek cat or dolphin cruise and enjoy sunset dining and live music in the marina hosted by the Black Marlin Bayside Grill & Hurricane Bar. The live music schedule changes frequently so click HERE to add more local live music dates to your Hilton Head itinerary!
Local Tip: If you’re an early riser and love a good sunrise, the Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café opens at 6 AM (Wed-Sun) and serves up the best shrimp and grits on the island.
Shelter Cove HarbourFest 2023 Fireworks Schedule: Tuesdays: June 6, 13, 20 & 27 Tuesdays: July 4, 11, 18 & 25 Tuesdays: August 1, 8, 15 & 22
Broad Creek Marina is across the bridge with east-facing views of the island. Broad Creek Marina offers activities, tours, and charters for every adventure level including ziplining, parasailing, and sunset dolphin cruises by boat, aboard the sailboat Cheers, or by kayak. The 2-hour Kayak Sunset Tour of Broad Creek includes the added bonus of the HarbourFest Fireworks in the summer season.
Local Tip: For the ultimate family adventure, combine your sunset experience with an epic aerial tour at Adventure Hilton Head, also located at Broad Creek Marina.
Kick back for a killer sunset, the real deal on Lowcountry cuisine, seasonal live music, and loads of family fun at Fishcamp on Broad Creek or next door at Up the Creek Pub & Grill. Both restaurants boast breathtaking views with a laid-back island ambiance, lawn games, live music, waterfront firepits, and daily happy hours to indulge a little.
Local Tip: If your family includes a furbaby, both Fishcamp & Up the Creek welcome well-behaved, leashed pets on their waterfront patios. Click HERE to find a place to stay for your pup too!
Phone: (843) 681-3663 Hours: Daily 11 AM to 10 PM Happy Hour: 4 PM to 6 PM Reservations: First come, first serve
Situated on the northern end of the island, Skull Creek is one of the most scenic sunset destinations in South Carolina! Sunset views stretch over the island’s western marshes and the untouched landscapes of Pinckney Island, views interrupted only by pods of dolphins and fishing boats cruising the creek. Sunset diners have a choice of three award-winning waterfront restaurants serving up seafood straight from the docks, southern BBQ, frozen cocktails and craft beers, seasonal live music, and sweeping sunset views that’ll leave you captivated.
Phone: (843) 784-2468 Hours: Sunrise to Sunset Admission: Free
Nestled between the mainland and Hilton Head Island, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 4,000 acres of wild Lowcountry landscapes with maritime forests, salt marshes, and tidal creeks teeming with alligators, bobcats, butterflies, and beautiful birdlife. It’s a top spot for Lowcountry nature photography with over 14 miles of hiking and biking trails to find a secluded setting to capture a sunset.
Local Tip: If you have your own kayak, launch on Skull Creek from the Rowing and Sailing Center on Squire Pope Road for a sunset paddle around Pinckney Island.
Soaring above Hilton Head in a helicopter adds to the magic of your sunset experience. The coastline stretches before you as a canvas of golden hues glows from the sand dunes to the skies. From quick flips along the Atlantic coastline to ultimate adventures sightseeing the top attractions on Hilton Head from the skies, Hilton Head Helicopter Tours offer it all – private charters too!
Local Tip: If you’re planning a large group getaway or family reunion on Hilton Head, they have three beautiful helicopters to easily accommodate the whole crew.
Whether you’re watching the sun dip behind the creeks, setting the ocean waters aglow, or casting colors over Hilton Head’s famous fairways, you can pick your sunset views in our collection of 230+ Sunset Rentals on Hilton Head Island – many with complimentary credit for all the gear you need for a beach picnic, bike ride, or sunset paddle adventure on the Intracoastal waterways.
At Sunset Rentals, we don’t just provide you with a luxury Lowcountry retreat to call home, our homes set the stage for a front-row seat to Mother Nature’s nightly masterpiece.
Local Tip: Start chasing South Carolina sunsets today with our team at Sunset Rentals!