Hilton Head Island is a great family beach destination. Not only will you find wide, sandy beaches stretching the entire length of the island, but also plenty of fun activities such as golf, tennis, putt-putt, bike riding, kayaking, fishing, dolphin cruises, shopping, dining out, and more. Wow, that was a long list! But you probably already knew all of that, and now you need to figure out where your family can stay (preferably on an affordable budget). That's what this guide is all about.
I grew up visiting the island as a kid, and still visit it today as a grown-up (kid at heart?). So, I've learned my way around the island and have become familiar with the various places to visit. Now that I have a family of my own, I am more particular with the things I look for when choosing a place to stay. Everything below is a combination of my own personal advice along with some from my friends and family which also have experience staying on the island.
Since Hilton Head is a large island, it offers plenty of accommodation options: hotels, resorts, vacation rental condos, and entire houses are available for rent. Prices depend on many factors, with location being the most important. The size and level of luxury of the place you stay can also affect the price, as you would expect. Places on the beach are naturally more expensive, but affordable places can still be found.
Affordable Places to Stay on Hilton Head
This is a lengthy guide, so if you want to find the most affordable places, then we can just get right down to it.
Jump down to the Folly Field area here
, or jump down to the Coligny Beach area here
. Both of these neighborhoods are outside of the large "plantation" developments and contain a variety of independently owned condos and rental houses at the best prices. Several smaller resort complexes can be found in the Folly Field beach area that have beachfront condos, swimming pools, and other nice amenities. Specifically, check out the Island Club, Hilton Head Resort, or the HH Beach & Tennis Club for some of the most affordable places with great amenities.
Or, read on for the best places in each of Hilton Head's various neighborhoods and plantations.
An Overview of Hilton Head's Neighborhoods
Various regions of Hilton Head were developed into large neighborhood resort areas which they call "plantations". These areas contain a variety of amenities such as golf courses, tennis clubs, beach access, and of course, a variety of homes and condos. Many of these "plantations" also have hotel-like resorts inside them, too. Some also contain their own shops and restaurants, as compared to those found on the main road through the island.
First we'll give a brief overview of the areas of Hilton Head, and then we'll provide a more detailed description of each area later in the article. This way, you can figure out which section you want to focus on and then skip down to the details.
Hilton Head Island is in the shape of a shoe
. Yes, seriously. If you look at the map, the sole of the shoe is the beach. The bridge from the mainland (Hwy 278) comes in at the "ankle" and the toe points south. In the middle of the shoe, where you'd find the laces, is an inlet that is a mixture of small channels and marshland known as Broad Creek. Many sections of the island are described by locals and visitors alike in terms of the position on the "shoe", and we'll do the same here.
At the north end of the island (the heel) are several of these resort developments: Hilton Head Plantation and Port Royal Plantation
. Port Royal has a great golf course (open to the public) and a variety of condos and homes that are close to, or right on the beach. Here you'll also find a few larger resort hotels. Hilton Head Plantation is on the inland side and is a good place to stay if you're interested in marsh views and golf.
Moving south, the next area along the beach is the Folly Field and Burkes Beach
area. This is a good, central place to stay with several smaller resorts and a variety of houses along the beach. This is a great spot because this area is affordable
, central, and has easy access to the beach if you don't stay oceanfront.
The next areas south along the beach are Palmetto Dunes
, two more resort and golf plantations with houses, condos, tennis clubs, etc. Across the highway is Shelter Cove, a large shopping area with a marina, plenty of shops and restaurants, and the Disney resort.
In the middle of the island along the shore is a section of the island known as Coligny Circle and Coligny Beach
, along with Forest Beach. This is one of the older areas of the island, and it contains plenty of shops, restaurants, public beach access, and fun activities. The surrounding area neighborhood is not part of a specific development, but rather contains many private homes (some of which can be rented), plus some condos and small hotels. This area is also fairly affordable
Everything south of this point belongs to Sea Pines Plantation
. It takes up about one third of the island all the way down to the toe. Like the others, it's full of houses, golf courses, condos on the beach, etc. Unlike the others, you have to pay a daily fee to enter if you don't stay here. In Sea Pines, on the inland side, you'll find Harbor Town
. This is perhaps the most famous area of Hilton Head with its picturesque lighthouse overlooking the marina and the iconic 18th hole of the Heritage Classic course. Some great restaurants and shops can be found here, along with charter boats taking visitors out to find dolphins or have encounters with mermaids and pirates (for the kids). Further south, at the "toe" is another shopping area (South Beach), home to the Salty Dog Cafe. If you're looking for something to do, it can be worth paying the daily fee to enter Sea Pines if you want to explore Harbor Town and other areas if you don't end up staying here.
Several other areas are located on the inland and marsh side of the island. If you want a cheaper place to stay and don't mind driving to a beach, this could be a good option. Shelter Cove
is located right in the middle of the island along the main road. With plenty of restaurants, shops, and live music, this is a nice area that overlooks the marina. Or, take a look at Indigo Run or Spanish Wells. They each have more golf courses, tennis courts, bike trails, kayaking, etc.
Now that you have an overview, let's dive into the specific areas of Hilton Head Island to find the best (and most affordable) places to stay in each of the plantations or other neighborhoods.
Port Royal & North Side
Consisting mostly of houses, Port Royal takes up the "heel" of the island. While some of this area faces the inlet and doesn't have much of a beach, the beachfront area of Port Royal has a few larger resorts such as the Marriott and Westin. Around the Fish Haul Beach Park on the north side are a number of houses and condos for rent at a decent price, but the best places are along the main beach.
If you're looking for the premier spot on the beach with all of the best amenities, then Marriott's Barony Resort
is perfect. This resort is made up of time share condos and is not a typical hotel. Many of these condos can be rented at a variety of prices
depending on availability. They have several pools, a gym, washer & dryer, full kitchens, kids play areas, and more. Here’s a 2 bedroom condo
overlooking the pool.
Here's a 2 bedroom condo
in another complex that is just a few minutes' walk from the beach. It has access to the pool and tennis courts, too.
And here’s a great place to stay in a condo
complex that has public beach access only a few hundred yards away. With a pool and tennis courts, you've got everything you need.
This 2 Bedroom renovated Condo
is at the Fish Haul Beach Park. You get a lot for the money here, mainly because you're not right on the main beach, but rather on the north inlet side of the island. It's still a nice spot, though.
Folly Field & Burkes Beach
Folly Field Road runs from the main highway down to the beach and then north towards Port Royal. Here you'll find several small resorts at affordable prices along with a variety of beachfront homes and smaller condo complexes.
The Island Club
This privately owned resort complex is one of my favorite places to stay, and I've been here many times. It sits right on the beach. As it's made up entirely of private condos, the individual owners make them available as vacation rentals
. The prices usually vary depending on the specific units, as some have been recently renovated and some have beach front views. The larger buildings on the beach contain 2 and 3 bedroom condos, while the lagoon units are mostly 1 or 2 bedroom condos. The units themselves have full kitchens and washer/dryers. The resort has a swimming pool area with a kids' pool and hot tubs. There's also a tennis club with clay and hard courts and an in-house tennis pro. Grills, bike rentals, a gym, a kids playground, and other amenities make this a fantastic place to stay.
Here's a great 2 bedroom
with ocean views:
And here's a more affordable 2 bedroom
overlooking the lagoon. It's only a few minutes on foot from the beach.
And you can see plenty more Island Club vacation rentals here on VRBO
HH Beach & Tennis Resort
Just down Folly Field Rd is the Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort. This large complex has several buildings on the beach, plus swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym, restaurants, kids playground, and more. Most of the units are in the beachfront buildings, and they are 1 bedroom condos with a full kitchen. The higher floors have ocean views. This is a nice and affordable
place to stay if you're not looking to spend a fortune but still want a great week at the beach. If you have a larger family, you might want to consider 2 units close together. You can see all of what’s available online here
Here's a good one
on the 3rd floor with nice views and nice decor, and here's another
that’s also nearby.
And this one has been upgraded
but is still around the same price as many of the others.
A number of smaller condo complexes can be found in the Folly Field and Burkes Beach area, too. Most have tennis courts and pools, and are only a few minutes from the beach on foot.
Sea Cloisters is a large building with modern conveniences that sits right on the beach. You can't go wrong with the views here, and it has a nice pool, too. Here's a fantastic 2 bedroom.
A number of private homes can be found in this section of the island, and many are offered as vacation rentals. Prices vary by location and size. If you have a larger family, this might be the best way to go as you would generally get more space than in a condo.
This 5 bedroom house
can sleep up to 14 people. The pool and fully furnished kitchen are luxurious and there's plenty of room for everyone.
This more affordable
“Classic Beach House” near the shore has 3 bedrooms, an updated kitchen, and is nicely furnished.
Here's another 5 bedroom house
that is fairly new. Great views from the windows, a luxury kitchen, multiple balconies, and a small private pool are all part of the package.
Looking for luxury? Here it is
: 5 bedrooms with room for 16 people, and a private pool. As is expected at this price, this is a high-end home with new furnishings all around.
Here's a smaller and very affordable
apartment in a house right near the beach with a cool outdoor shower and public beach access.
This cute and affordable house
has everything you need. The photos speak for themselves, as does that porch!
Marriott's Surf Watch
Another Marriott resort sits in the Burkes Beach area, and as expected it's quite luxurious. Like the Barony resort mentioned earlier, this is not a hotel, but rather a timeshare resort, so you can't just book it directly like a hotel. Instead, you can rent units online from owners or third party websites
, and the prices vary by availability. Like other resorts, it has fantastic condos with full kitchens, several nice pools, a restaurant, kids areas, and more.
You can see multiple units available as vacation rentals here
Hilton Head Resort
This resort full of condos might have a generic name, but it offers a lot of amenities at a good price
. With tennis courts and an outdoor pool surrounded by comfortable condos, it has quick and easy access to the beach and a central location on the island. An indoor pool with hot tubs, a sauna, and exercise area is also in one of the buildings. Many of the units are fairly affordable, and contain a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and multiple bedrooms. It also has a tiki bar!
See all available units here
Here's a good condo
in the complex with 2 bedrooms overlooking the lagoon and marsh instead of the inside area of the building.
Palmetto Dunes & Shipyard
A mix of houses and condo buildings are spread out among the golf courses that run through Palmetto Dunes and Shipyard Plantations. Along the beach are also some larger houses, but mainly a series of condo buildings tucked into the trees. This is a great area if you're looking for a central location on the beach with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.
As you get closer to the beach, prices tend to rise, but not always as the level of luxury also affects the prices in this part of the island.
One and Two bedroom condos are available both on the beach and back in the golf courses. You can see plenty of options here on VRBO
, or read on for recommendations.
Here’s a great option on the beach
with access to the pool.
This 2 bedroom
is hidden back in the golf course, but is still within walking distance to the beach.
HousesThis gorgeous and reasonably priced house
is very close to the beach. With 3 bedrooms, you'll have a good bit of space for everyone.
If you have a huge crowd, or want to bring everyone you know, then you should definitely stay in this amazing 8 bedroom house
with a stunningly luxurious pool, indoor-outdoor living spaces, billiards, chefs kitchen, and all the bells and whistles. If you decide to stay here, please call me so that I can come with you. (Just look at the photos, okay?)
Coligny Beach & Forest Beach
This is one of my favorite areas on Hilton Head to visit and hang out. In the small shopping center area at the end of Pope Ave. you'll find a number of restaurants, bars, and fun shops. The end of the road opens up onto the public beach area, and this is a pretty active spot during the day for people headed to the beach.
The surrounding neighborhood is filled with houses and small condo buildings. You can actually save a lot of money by staying a block or two back from the beach. Here are some of the best and most affordable places.
This 2 bedroom condo
has access to a pool and tennis courts, and is a short walk to the beach.
This 2 bedroom condo
is actually part of Shipyard, but sits so close to the Coligny area that you can walk to the shops. It has access to a pool and is not far from the beach, too.
This 2 bedroom townhouse condo has plenty of space
and is across the street from the beach. It has access to the nearby pool, too.
If you need more space, this house has 3 bedrooms and a pool
. Located in the Forest Beach neighborhood, it's just a short walk to the beach as well.
This 4 bedroom house also has a pool
and sits a few blocks from the beach. It has a modern, updated kitchen and plenty of natural light.
This large and luxurious 7 bedroom house
has a pool in the back and plenty of room for everyone that you're bringing.
As we stated earlier, Sea Pines Plantation takes up the entire southern end of the island all the way to the “toe”. With condos and houses on the beach a well as inland, there are plenty of options here. Many of the houses and condos located inland are along the scenic golf courses and lagoons, or even overlooking the marsh on the back side of the island.
Prices in Sea Pines tend to be higher
than the other areas of the island, but they are also often more luxurious.
Here's a one bedroom condo
that is within walking distance to the South Beach area including its shops and restaurants. It's also a short walk to the beach, and has access to the pool and tennis courts
of the complex.
We love this 3 bedroom condo
which has a nice amount of space for the whole family. It's located a bit inland, so you'll need to walk to the beach, but it's not that far. You also have access to the nearby pool
, and the kitchen is large enough for all of your meals if you don't want to venture out to the nearby restaurants.
This spectacular 4 bedroom
house has a pool
, ample deck space, an amazing kitchen, and luxurious touches that will have you relaxing before you even put your bags down. And it's also right by the beach.
The Harbor Town area is fairly small, as most of the condo buildings, shops, and restaurants encircle the small marina with the lighthouse on one side and the golf course on the other. This is a great place to stay if you don't mind being a bit away from the beach. You can always drive or bike to the beach if you want, and you'll be within walking distance to all of the amenities around the marina.
Here's a recently renovated 2 bedroom
condo that's a quick walk to everything near the lighthouse.
This 2 bedroom condo
has a patio that overlooks the marina with the lighthouse behind it. What a view! With a good kitchen and twin beds in the kids room, it's a good place for a small family.
This "pedestal house" near Harbor Town
has views of the marsh and surrounding Live Oaks. It was actually featured on HGTV
. The 2 bedroom house has plenty of natural light, a great kitchen, and fun decor.
Inland & Marsh Side
Plenty of great places to stay can be found around the marsh and inland areas of Hilton Head. Many are in condo complexes that have pools, golf, and tennis courts, too. If you want to save money, or get a better value, this is often a good idea, especially if you visit in the off-season when the beach is not as important.
is a great area full of shops and restaurants right in the middle of the island.
Here's a 2 bedroom penthouse condo
overlooking the Shelter Cove marina. It's a great value, as you wouldn't get this level of luxury on the beach. With a pool, hot tub, grills, and more, you'll be very comfortable here.
This 1 bedroom condo
has amazing views of the marsh on Broad Creek and is close to Shelter Cove. With access to the nearby pool, this is a good, quiet place to relax.
This 2 bedroom and 2.5 bath penthouse condo
has great views overlooking the Shelter Cove marina. Just step outside to visit the many shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Here’s the view from the balcony:
Looking for your own island? This small island
on the marsh side of Hilton Head can only be reached by boat (the hosts will take you to the island on their boat). Here you'll find an elegant and charming 3 bedroom house that is furnished in luxury. Outside you'll find some nice seating areas including a fire pit area, docks with amazing views, a covered deck with a hammock, and more.
Here's a small and affordable 2 bedroom house
near the marsh that is perfect for anyone on a budget. It's not far from the shops and restaurants under the cross island bridge, too. It has a hot tub and an upgraded kitchen and bathroom. It’s actually much nicer than the photos make it look.
That’s it for now. Hopefully you’ve found the ideal neighborhood to stay in, and perhaps even a great place to stay. Have fun at the beach, and don’t forget to eat some delicious seafood!