Hilton Head Island measures a mere 12 miles long by 5 miles wide, but within these 70 square miles you’ll find an island retreat with a rich and storied history, and a vacation destination you’ll want to come back to again and again.
Located in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry, 35 miles north of Savannah, GA and 95 miles southwest of Charleston, SC., Hilton Head Island was inhabited for several thousand years by Native Americans before being discovered by European explorers: first the Spanish, then the French, and finally the British. It was English Captain William Hilton who in 1633 finally established a permanent presence on the island, naming the headland for himself. Over the next two hundred years, agriculture drove the local economy and by 1860, 24 plantations were in operation growing cotton, indigo, rice, and cane sugar.
It was another 100 years – long after the plantations had surrendered to time and societal changes – when the timber industry came calling. At the same time, right around 1956, Charles Fraser, whose family owned a large portion of the island, saw an opportunity that reached far beyond timber. It was Mr. Fraser who conceived the idea of a seaside resort community on the island. Shortly thereafter, work began on Sea Pines Plantation, the island’s very first vacation resort. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the island is known around the world as a premier vacation destination. More than 30,000 year-round residents call the island home, while tens of thousands more come each year to share in the natural beauty, spectacular seascapes and endless recreational activities.