We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Island Explorer

Certificate of Excellence
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Your filters are still active.
There are no pins in your viewport. Try moving the map or changing your filters.
Sponsored by:
Get directions
Address: 101 Marshland Road, Hilton Head, SC 29926
Phone Number: +1 843-785-2100
Website
Improve this listing
Today
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Closed now
See all hours
Hours:
Sun - Sat 7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Description:

With over 30 years experience in dolphin and nature cruises around Hilton...

With over 30 years experience in dolphin and nature cruises around Hilton Head Island, Capt. Jim Harkins and Island Explorer offers unique and memorable tours. With both 12-passenger and 6-passenger boats, Island Explorer can accommodate large families or groups and still offer initmate experiences.You may choose a 1-Hour Introductory Tour, a 2-Hour Dolphin and Nature Excursion, or one of our 3-Hour and 3.5-Hour Expeditions. On our popular expedition to "Vanishing Island" you'll view the dolphins, cross the Calibogue Sound, and have the opportunity to disembark on a secluded sandbar to search for sand dollars at the low tide. We offer Lowcountry Backwater tours and even a special Nature Photography tour guided by a professional photographer. Evening Sunset Cruises will bring you to beauty of the Hilton Head sunsets along with scenic views of the marshlands, birds, and dolphins that make the Lowcountry special. During the summer months join us for a Tuesday night Fireworks Cruise. Our captains are experienced, friendly, and informative. Our mid-island location is convenient to every resort on Hilton Head. Parking is always free, and there are no gate fees. Our boats are docked at the popular island restaurant, The Old Oyster Factory Restaurant at 101 Marshland Road. With years of experience on Hilton Head Island and variety of unique cruises, Island Explorer will treat you to a memorable experience for your family or group.

read more

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 426 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 374
    Excellent
  • 32
    Very good
  • 15
    Average
  • 3
    Poor
  • 2
    Terrible
Fabulous Family Sunset cruise and Dolphin Sightings

Very personal tour of Hilton Head waters. Great dolphin sightings and even a couple of close-up encounters. The sunset was beautifully perfect. My husband, children (11 and 12... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed 1 week ago
OurLindsaytravels
Add Photo Write a Review

426 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

Very personal tour of Hilton Head waters. Great dolphin sightings and even a couple of close-up encounters. The sunset was beautifully perfect. My husband, children (11 and 12 years old) and I thoroughly enjoyed our time on the boat. Our captain shared so much interesting information about the area and his world travels (we share a love for Haiti). We... More 

Helpful?
Thank OurLindsaytravels
Minnesota
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2015 via mobile

Cathy took the time to show us in the map where we were going before we even saw Dolphins. She remembered all of our names. She took a personal interest in everyone of us. She taught us about more than we ever expected. We learned about the history of island, oysters, crab fishermen, plankton. She is a top notch guide... More 

Helpful?
Thank bhuston47
Birmingham, Alabama
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2015 via mobile

Our 2 hour dolphin cruise was a wonderful trip for children and adults! Thank you Captain Kathy!! Thank you Island Explorer for operating in December and for being so accommodating in your reservations!

Helpful?
Thank wareagleGLB
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2015

We were having trouble finding dolphin excursions that were still operating since December isn't a typically super warm, but Island Explorer was still open and available. While this cruise is a little bit more expensive than some of the other dolphin cruises, it is definitely worth it. The boat we road on is only a 12 passenger which allows for... More 

Helpful?
5 Thank Kristen T
Columbus, Ohio
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2015

Captain Kathy was very knowledgeable about the area and the topics of marine life and barrier island life. Highly recommend this trip. We saw dolphins, several different types of birds, sea grasses and learned a lot.

Helpful?
Thank VTG2012
Warminster, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
55 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2015 via mobile

Went on the 2-hour dolphin and nature tour with Capt Cathy on a 10-passenger bait. We saw dolphins within the first 15 minutes of the trip. Cathy was very knowledgable about the Hilton Head area, oyster beds and the wildlife of the area. She even extended the tour an additional 30 minutes to take us to the Harbortown area to... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Susan M
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks so much for your kind words about Island Explorer and Capt. Kathy. All of our captains enjoy sharing their years of knowledge and experience with our guests. We love kids and will always give an extra effort whenever possible to give them a truly memorable experience. Both of our larger boats are Coast Guard certified to carry up to... More 

Blue Ridge, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2015

Took the Vanishing Island trip.....Highlight of our vacation! Capt Rick was great, saw lots of dolphins, found sand dollars and a star fish. We will be back soon!!!!

Helpful?
Thank gizwell
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks for letting us know that you had a fantastic time on our Vanishing Island trip. We always hope to find lots of sand dollars and see lots of dolphins, and it's good to know you enjoyed what nature provided. We'll look forward to seeing you again. More 

Eatonton, Georgia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2015

This was our second time to take this 3-hour trip, and I will continue to go as often as possible. We were able to collect many sand dollars that were stranded and dried on this huge sand bar when the tide went out. Along the way our guide filled us with knowledge of the water fowl, the importance of the... More 

Helpful?
2 Thank Nancy P
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks for joining us again for our unique Vanishing Island Cruise. It means a lot to know that you return to join us each year. We like to say that each time you come, the trip will be different. That's because nature gives us something new and interesting every day. We just try to make the best of it and... More 

North Carolina
Level Contributor
35 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2015 via mobile

Captian Kathy is full of knowledge about the area marshes, birds and dolpins. We saw several dolphins up close! Two other families were on the boat with kids and we all had plenty of room. Great time! Thanks Captian Kathy

Helpful?
1 Thank travel1215
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

We're so glad that you had a wonderful time with Island Explorer and Capt. Kathy. We really work hard to give each guest a unique and memorable experience. Thanks for the positive feedback. More 

Hartland, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
181 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2015

My husband booked this as a dolphin excursion, which did not really pan out. Our captain was a very nice and informative gentleman, but long on personal stories and short on finding all the dolphins that he "knew just where they were". My family has been on other dolphin tours so I know it can be hit or miss, but... More 

Helpful?
Thank SouthernJewelryGirl
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We apologize that you did not have the experience you were hoping for. As you noted in your review, on any given day a search for dolphins may come up short. We do the best we can with what nature offers us. On the rare occasions that nature does not provide us with... More 

Travelers who viewed Island Explorer also viewed

Hilton Head, Coastal South Carolina
Hilton Head, Coastal South Carolina
 
Hilton Head, Coastal South Carolina
Hilton Head, Coastal South Carolina
 

Been to Island Explorer? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing

Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Island Explorer and other visitors
2 questions
Ask a question

See all questions (2)

Questions? Get answers from Island Explorer staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Will you pick up and drop off at my hotel?
  • I have a family of 7. Can your tour accommodate all of us together?
  • How should I dress for this tour?