About Hilton Head Island
Incorporated as a town in 1983, Hilton Head Island is home to more than 30,000 residents who live year-round in our renowned environmentally planned resort and residential communities. Yet much of the Island remains as it was when sighted from William Hilton’s ship more than 300 years ago. Over the centuries, Hilton Head Island’s natural beauty, spectacular seascapes, exceptional ecology and South Carolina historical sites have beckoned generations of explorers—with Native Americans, English, Spanish, French colonists, pirates, African-Americans and soldiers all leaving their footprints on the sands of South Carolina’s Treasured Coast. And now is the time for you to leave your own footprints in the sand…on Hilton Head Island.
Some of the most important historical sites in South Carolina are part of Hilton Head Island history. In 1663, English sea captain William Hilton sighted Hilton Head Island and, as a result, the seeds of the first successful plantations were sown. Commissioned by a group of Barbados planters to find new land on which to grow food crops, Hilton wrote about his voyage in his journal.
Hilton, however, was not the first European to visit the Island. In 1521, the Spanish were the first confirmed Island visitors. Fleeing persecution in their Catholic homeland, French Huguenot colonists sought refuge on Hilton Head Island as early as the 1560s. They christened Port Royale Harbour, now known as Port Royal Sound, and charted the Island on French maps as “Ile de la Riviere Grande”—Island of the Broad River. Soon they moved to more protected water, settling in an area that is now known as Beaufort, South Carolina.
Things to Do
- The beach. Urchin Manor is just a 3 minute walk from the beach.
- Bicycle ride. There are many places to rent bikes on the Island and most companies will deliver to your door step.
- Shopping. From independent stores to big outlet malls.
- Dining. Shrimp and grits is a low county standard!
- Visit Harbor Town.
- Guided Tours: Sailing, Cruises, Segway, Museums, Dolphin Watching, Excursions, Helicopter Tours, Pirate Ships
- Golf. HHI is home to over 33 golf courses!
- Play Tennis.
- Water Activities: Boating & Cruises, Dolphin Watch Cruises, Fishing Charters, Jet Skis, Kayaking, Lessons & Camps on the Water, Marinas, Paddle Boarding, Parasailing, Sailing, Surfing, Waterskiing, Windsurfing,
- Where to get groceries. Our guests staying at Urchin Manor will have access to a full kitchen.
Hilton Head's neighbor, Daufuskie Island. Discover an island steeped in history and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Whether it’s as part of a scheduled tour with Tour Daufuskie, LLC or a quick excursion exploring in your own golf cart, it is a daytrip worth the adventure!
Once a thriving oyster community, the Gullah, which were freed African-American slaves, comprised the island population. Many worked in what became a world-renowned leading commodity for the five-mile, Lowcountry Sea Island off the coast of South Carolina. However, in 1959, once fertile beds were deemed polluted by neighboring industry. With the harvest no longer safe, most were forced off the island to seek employment.
There is still not a bridge to the mainland. However, a short ride on a ferry, water taxi, or personal boat from Savannah, Georgia, Bluffton or Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where you will also likely see a dolphin or two, can truly take visitors back in time to the dusty roads of Daufuskie.
Throughout the historical Gullah part of the island, visitors can spot signs of their beliefs. From windowsills and door jams painted blue, for keeping away possible haints, to colanders and signs with painted hands and eyes nailed to Spanish moss draped trees, images of the early practices are evidenced along the historical back roads of the island.
From the deviled crab makers, only three remain on the island, and you can order them on the menu at the Old Daufuskie Crab Company at Freeport Marina or buy them frozen directly from their homes, to a potter at the Silver Dew Pottery, a talented sculptor at the Iron Fish, the t-shirt lady and others, artisans and craftsmen abound on Daufuskie.
Only main roads on the island are paved, so the predominant mode of transportation is via golf cart. With just four island restaurants, for an extended stay, visitors have to plan out their menus and bring groceries over to the island. Small sacrifices, or rather, thoughtful planning, allow one to reap the reward of a natural island and a private retreat.
In addition to Freeport Marina’s Old Daufuskie Crab Company, visitors can grab a bite at Marshside Mama’s, voted one of America’s Best Beach Bars by “Travel and Leisure” magazine , or visit the beautiful, newly remodeled Eagle’s Nest at infamous Bloody Point. Recently opened Melrose on the Beach also offers lunch and dinner dining among unrivaled beauty.
Because most of the island remains predominately undisturbed, nature abounds. Tour Daufuskie, LLC offers up close and personal guided kayak tours of the Cooper River marshes. Come paddle your way through the spartina and see where the dolphins play!
Rookeries are home to many island birds, such as the snowy egret and the federally protected wood stork. You will also likely see the great blue heron and an occasional osprey or bald eagle. Through Tour Daufuskie, LLC, guided birding tours are available.