When it’s time for rest and relaxation, you can book your dream vacation in the Hilton Head Island area to find vacation rentals right on the oceanfront or just a short walk from the beach. Enjoy vacation rentals on golf courses or in natural settings, with or without private pools. Any rental you choose gives you a great place to hang out after a full day of fun and adventures. Parasail, windsurf, surf, kayak, swim, and jet ski when you want some high-level activities. Or, just drag out a folding beach chaise and loll in the sun while the kids romp in the water and sand. Here is a list of the top 12 Hilton Head Island vacation rental locations to help you with your dream vacation planning.

1. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

helicopter above the beach

Where can you find 12 miles of pristine beaches, 24 golf courses, and 350 tennis courts? Hilton Head Island has all of that and more. Just picture yourself enjoying the sun, sand, and the Atlantic Ocean while the kids splash in the surf and build sand castles. There’s excitement above-ground at the zip line park and at Fly Hi helicopter tours.

2. Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

trees beside the road

To reach Daufuskie Island, you catch the Ferry at the Oyster Factory landing in Bluffton to the Melrose Landing on the island. The island’s historical society features the Billie Burn Museum collection, which tells the story of the island. When you’re ready to rinse off the salt and sand from your beach activities, you can enjoy walking or biking along the lovely trails around the island.

3. Bluffton, South Carolina

dogs on a paddle board

When you get to Bluffton, feel free to plop down in an easy chair, sip some sweet tea, and feel those jangled nerves begin to unknot. There’s always the beach close by for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing but if the kids want some indoor recreation, you can head on over to Station 300 for the arcade, laser maze, and bowling. The Harbor River offers gentle waters for some stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.

4. Brighton Beach, South Carolina

artistic surfing boards

Brighton Beach lies on the banks of the Harbor River, just west of Hilton Head Island. You can find a variety of fun rentals, including boats, jet skis, and kayaks. Nature tours and chartered fishing boat tours take you along the river and out into the Atlantic Ocean for great fishing or sightseeing. If you like historic sites, the Stoney-Baynard Plantation on Hilton Head Island offers a cool and somewhat spooky ruin of an old plantation home.

5. St. Helena Island, South Carolina

horseback riding at the seashore

St. Helena Island is home to one of the first schools in the country for freed slaves, Penn Center. It features exhibits, historical documents, oral histories, musical recordings, and crafts. The island is also home to historic Fort Fremont, established in 1898 during the threat of a war with Spain. For a change of pace, you can take the kids horseback riding at Camelot Farms Equestrian Center.

6. Beaufort, South Carolina

cooked crabs and corn

Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island with antebellum mansions, period furniture, and exhibits. If you love fresh seafood, you can bait crab pots and haul in your catch later or bait a line and try catching crabs along the shore with nets. From catching to cooking to eating, crabbing is a lot of fun to experience with your whole family. The anglers in your family can get outfitted at Bay Street Outfitters with bait, tackle, and jackets for your fishing adventures.

7. Tybee Island, Georgia

long pier

Tybee Island is an island and small city near Savannah. Imagine hanging out on wide, unspoiled beaches with wooden piers. You can explore the salt marshes in one of the fishing boat tours. The 18th-century lighthouse and the museum in Battery Garland provide educational history and background of the area.

8. Wilmington Island, Georgia

sea waves touching the rocks

Wilmington Island is situated east of Savannah between Thunderbolt and Tybee Island. If you like ghost stories, you can make reservations with Ghost City Tours for a 90-minute spine-tingling walk through Savannah’s scariest places. Is there a ghost lurking in the shadows waiting to meet you? There’s only one way to find out; grab a candle and explore the haunted streets.

9. Talahi Island, Georgia

swimming dolphins

You can stay near Georgia’s Intracostal Waterway on Talahi Island to enjoy Skidaway Park where trails wind through forests and past a salt marsh. You can look for deer, fiddler crabs, egrets, and other indigenous wildlife. If you want to watch birds, the park’s interpretive center provides binoculars and a viewing window. When you’re ready for some excitement, you can take the family on a guided jet ski dolphin-watching tour.

10. Savannah, Georgia

park statue

The Savannah River separates Savannah from South Carolina. It is an old coastal city with antebellum architecture and horse-drawn carriage rides. The historic district features cobblestone streets and lovely parks, including Forsyth Park. You can enjoy strolling through the oak trees that are covered with Spanish moss. The Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist landmark is a central figure in this district.

11. Hardeeville, Georgia

pink and gray elephant
Source: Flickr / byrdiegyrl

Millstone Landing in Hardeeville overlooks the picturesque Savannah River, offering boaters and fishermen access to some great fishing spots. A couple of notable historical sites include the Hardeeville Methodist Church and the Argent train Engine Number 7. Lots of visitors enjoy stopping for photo opportunities with the life-size pink and gray elephants outside of a fireworks store.

12. Harbour Town, Georgia

bird flying over the lighthouse

Harbor Town is situated on the southeastern section of Hilton Head Island. You can visit the stunningly beautiful Harbour Town Lighthouse, with each level dedicated to a different period of South Carolina History. The 90-foot lighthouse is open for the public to climb, and it has a red observation deck just below the lantern, which flashes every 25 seconds. You can take the kids on the popular Bubble Gum Cruise on the Vagabond to go dolphin watching.