South Carolina

Bluffton - Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island SC Lighthouse
Published on March 10, 2013

Hilton Head Island is one of the top South Carolina destinations, and is the birthplace of master-planned communities such as Sea Pines. Bluffton is located on the mainland, just west of the connecting bridge. Hilton Head Island has twelve miles of pristine public beaches that surround the five mile wide island, and its beaches are pet friendly. Bicycles are more popular on the island than cars with over 100 miles of designated bicycle trails weaving around the island and along the beaches. Hilton Head Island has been certified as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Golf and watersports dominate the activities in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. New South Carolina coastal communities and shopping establishments continue to be built on the mainland in Bluffton, off U.S. Route 278. Along the waterfront downtown nicknamed Old Town Bluffton, the streets are lined with eclectic art galleries and trendy, delicious restaurants. The Colleton and May Rivers blend gently around Bluffton, leading out to the Atlantic Ocean. The large tide fluctuations reveal intriguing oyster beds changing the scenery every few hours. Living in Bluffton SC is charming. 

Bluffton and Hilton Head Island are located approximately 30 miles north of Savannah, Georgia. On the opposite side of Bluffton is Charleston about 90 miles to the north. Bluffton is considered one of the top places to live in South Carolina. The year-round population is about 51,000 people but rises by about 600% during the summer months, increasing traffic dramatically on the U.S. Route 278 corridor. 

The Lowcountry is a nature lover’s paradise surrounded by saltwater marshes and beautiful wildlife. Sightings of bottlenosed dolphin, great blue heron, and white-tailed deer are common. Windmill Harbour Marina is located off the Intracoastal Waterway at MM 558 and caters to the Hilton Head Island boating community. Harbour Town Yacht Basin at Sea Pines is located at MM 565 on the Calibogue Sound at Hilton Head Island. Championship golf course communities and Bluffton waterfront homes in are plentiful. 

If you're searching for exciting South Carolina destinations to live, here's reasons to consider living in Bluffton SC:


The Society of Bluffton Artists, nicknamed SOBA, is located in Old Town Bluffton. The center offers art classes and rotates art exhibits monthly. The May River Theatre hosts off Broadway performances at the Ulmer Auditorium. Members of the USC Beaufort Osher Lifelong Learning Institute ( OLLI ) have access to discounted Metropolitan Opera tickets at the Historic Beaufort Campus Center For The Arts. OLLI has more than 1,400 members in Beaufort. This region is one of the best places to live South Carolina 


At an elevation of 25 feet, Bluffton’s average winter temperature is 50 degrees. The average summer temperature is in the 70‘s. Hurricanes are Bluffton and Hilton Head’s biggest weather hazards. The last hurricane to hit the island was Hurricane Hugo in 1989.


The University of South Carolina Beaufort offers an extensive list of year-round courses designed for mature adults through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. One of their campuses is located on Hilton Head Island. Offerings include intriguing lectures, hands-on creativity courses and interesting field trips.

The Technical College of the Low Country offers life enrichment courses in photography, writing, computer skills, and social media. The New River Campus is located in Bluffton SC.  

Retirees searching for the top places to live in South Carolina will find the state's law attractive providing tuition exemption for residents 60 and older for classes taken at state colleges (nominal fees may apply). Seniors can generally take any class offered, but many colleges also have specialized senior learning programs.  


Beaufort Memorial Hospital is a 197 bed hospital affiliated with Duke University. The hospital is the largest hospital between Savannah and Charleston, SC. Specialties include cancer care, heart services, orthopedics, women’s health and imaging.

Naval Hospital Beaufort consists of the hospital and two Branch Medical Clinics - one at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island and the other at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Beaufort. 

Hilton Head Hospital won the 2011 Gold Performance Achievement Award for extraordinary heart care. Their specialties include cardiac care, spine surgery, orthopedics, women's health, surgical services, and a dedicated breast health center,.

Coastal Carolina Hospital is a new hospital in Hardeeville, due west of Bluffton. The facility is home to the Center for Hyperbarics and Wound Care, emergency care, imaging, rehabilitation, surgical services and more.


As a golf Mecca and one of the top South Carolina destinations, the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area are home to more than 70 golf courses and many are open to the public. Pet-friendly beaches and watersports are what Hilton Head Island is most known for especially at Sea Pines. Kayaks, paddle boards, and jet skis are the most popular water toys. Thrill seekers can easily find parasailing and zip lines to raise their heartbeat. Avid saltwater fishermen can venture off into the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean for Spanish mackerel and sharks. Nature lovers have miles and miles of saltwater marshlands and slow-moving waterways to explore the Lowcountry’s natural habitats and protected wildlife make living in Bluffton SC special.


Hilton Head Island has more than 250 restaurants and 29 shopping centers to choose from. Old Town Bluffton is home to 16 tasty Mom & Pop style restaurants serving up southern charm. Menus feature fresh local seafood including shrimp, blue crab, and oysters. On the mainland, Tanger Outlets Mall is Bluffton’s most frequented shopping complex, home to 85 brand name outlet stores. Big box stores are also easily accessed in Bluffton.


Bluffton homes for sale average $200,000. Hilton Head Island homes for sale average $320,000. This Lowcountry real estate is located in Beaufort County. The estimated real estate tax millage rate is .01013 per $100. Visit our library to find help and to learn how to calculate property taxes in Beaufort County, South Carolina. When you travel to check out one of the top places to live in South Carolina, we're here to help.

Population: 51,200
Median State Property Tax: 0.60%
State Sales Tax: 6%
State Income Tax: 0% to 7%
  • Savannah Hilton Head Int'l Airport (SAV)
  • Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH)
Arts & Culture
  • Art League of Hilton Head
  • Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
  • Bluffton Historical Preservation Society
  • Coastal Discovery Museum
  • Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island
  • Hilton Head Choral Society
  • Hilton Head Dance Theater
  • Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra
  • Main Street Youth Theatre
  • South Carolina Repertory Company
  • The May River Theatre
  • The Society of Bluffton Artists
Events & Festivals
  • Gullah Festival - FEB
  • Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival - MAR
  • Blue Angels Air Show - APR
  • Heritage PGA Golf Tournament - APR
  • Hilton Head Seafood Festival - APR
  • Bluffton Village Festival - MAY
  • Hilton Head Island Art Festival - MAY
  • Beaufort River Swim - JUN
  • Beaufort Water Festival - JUL
  • Bluffton Seafood & Arts Festival - OCT
  • Hilton Head Burgers & Brews Fall Festival - NOV
  • Hilton Head Oyster Festival - NOV
  • Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival - NOV
  • Hilton Head Island Winter Wonder Festival - DEC
Hospitals & Healthcare
  • Beaufort Memorial Hospital
  • Hilton Head Hospital
  • Coastal Carolina Hospital
Colleges & Universities
  • Technical College of the Lowcountry
  • University of South Carolina Beaufort
  • Professional Golfers Career College
Shopping & Retail
  • Beach Market - Hilton Head Island
  • Berkeley Place on Buckwalter
  • Main Street Village - Hilton Head Island
  • South Beach Marina Village - Hilton Head Island
  • South Island Square - Hilton Head Island
  • Tanger Outlets - Bluffton
  • The Shops at Sea Pines Center - Hilton Head Island
  • USCB Sand Sharks - baseball
  • Robert Trent Jones golf course, Palmetto Dunes
  • Harbour Town Golf Links - Sea Pines Resort
State & National Parks
  • Audubon Nature Preserve - Hilton Head Island
  • Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Sea Pines Forest Nature Preserve - Hilton Head Island
Top Employers
  • Beaufort County School District
  • Coastal Carolina Medical Center
  • Dunes Marketing Group
  • Hilton Head Hospital
  • Palmetto Electric Cooperative
  • University of South Carolina Beaufort
  • Sea Pines Resort