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Island Explorer

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Address: 101 Marshland Road, Hilton Head, SC 29926
Phone Number: +1 843-785-2100
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Today
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
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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.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 409 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 358
    Excellent
  • 31
    Very good
  • 15
    Average
  • 3
    Poor
  • 2
    Terrible
Best part of our trip!

We are on our honeymoon in Hilton Head and my wife was desperate to see dolphins before we went back to England so we decided to book a trip. We initially planned to go with the... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed August 27, 2015
Kerlaus
,
Wetherby, United Kingdom
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409 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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English first
Wetherby, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2015 NEW

We are on our honeymoon in Hilton Head and my wife was desperate to see dolphins before we went back to England so we decided to book a trip. We initially planned to go with the trip our hotel offered (I won't name and shame as they are not actually affiliated with the hotel - simply work with them) but... More 

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Long Island
Level Contributor
259 reviews
85 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2015 NEW via mobile

First beware go to bathroom before you get there pota potty is filthy. Captain Jimmy was very nice and knowledgeable he answered allsorts of questions. I learned a lot. Went on the 3 hour vanishing island tour which went so fast. Saw lots of dolphins thanks to the shrimp boat. Tons of star fish and dug for sand dollars. No... More 

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Newnan, Georgia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2015

There were only 4 of us on this boat tour and it was awesome. Capt. Jared was so knowledgeable and entertaining throughout the entire 2 hours. We would stop as he told us the history about each section of our tour and add his own person touches as well. We saw many dolphins, some who swam right up beside our... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks so much for your great review. Capt. Jared really appreciates the positive feedback. He's a long time islander and has lots of great stories to share. Island Explorer is proud to have some the best captains on Hilton Head Island, and we're glad that you enjoyed the tour. More 

Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2015

Kids and adults alike really enjoyed a great day on the water. We saw dolphins, gathered shells and shark teeth, and even saw an eagle feeding. Great tour of the area, lots of fun info with an informative, funny tour guide. A must do trip, and a great value!

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Island Explorer is so glad to know that you had a "magical day" and a "great trip" with us. Our captains are specialists in providing an entertaining and educational experience. The 3-Hour Vanishing Island tour is unique to Island Explorer, and we think it's a great time and great value. We're glad to know that you agree. More 

Level Contributor
51 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2015

We went on the 2hr tour this morning with captain Kathy. We had a really enjoyable time. She was friendly, flexible with picture taking, funny, and extremely knowledgable. My husband is a very critical person, and he really liked her! We would go again in a heartbeat. Our 4yr old had a blast.

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IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your 2-Hour Cruise with Capt. Kathy. As with all of our captains, she works hard to create a fun and friendly experience for everyone from 4-year-olds to hard-to-please husbands. We'll look forward to seeing you again in the future on Island Explorer. More 

Westlake, Ohio
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2015

We had a great trip during our week-long vacation with Island Explorer. It was especially nice to go on a trip with a small group. There were a total of 11 passengers and the tour felt like it was a personalized one. Our guide gave us plenty of information, found some good spots to see the dolphins, and made sure... More 

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IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

We're glad that you enjoyed our small boat experience. At Island Explorer we have carefully custom designed boats that we feel are perfect for our dolphin and nature experience. Our Explorer boats are each certified by the Coast Guard to carry up to 12 passengers. This is twice the size of most local tours, but much smaller than the big... More 

Toledo, Ohio
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2015

We did the "Vanashing Island" cruise on our first full day on the island. It was wonderful. Captain Cathy was the best. Her knowledge of the island, it's wildlife, history, and "touristy stuff" was a very good introduction to our week. The tour itself took 3.5 hours and even though it rained on us (not the Captain's fault), we are... More 

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IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Capt. Kathy and Island Explorer sincerely appreciate your kind words and recommendation. We always work hard to give every family a memorable experience. Even when the occasional shower pops up, we try to make the best of it. Our captains are all very experienced in local weather and will make the best decisions for your safety and comfort as well... More 

Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2015

We tried to make a reservation 2 days before we wanted to go and they were full. So we spent a little extra $ and got our own boat for our party of 5. That turned out to be a great thing. The boat held 6 so we had plenty of room. My 84 YO MIL was with us and... More 

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IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

We're glad to know that you enjoyed your "great adventure" with Island Explorer. One reason we offer private charters and boat buy-outs is so that families can have more space and and maintain a "family only" experience. These tours also allow us to take the time to go places we might not otherwise be able to visit on our regular... More 

Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2015

After reading all the reviews about the Vanishing Island trip, our group of eight was really excited about the adventure. Then there was a problem. Our friend had booked the reservation from Germany, and for reasons nobody ever understood, the reservation didn't get recorded correctly here in South Carolina. So, after arriving for the tour, we ended up without a... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thank you so much for your positive review of Island Explorer. Much investigation went on to try and discover the mis-communication about your reservations. This is a very rare experience as we have a system in place to manage our reservations even if employees change. No matter what happens, we always try to "do the right thing" and will go... More 

Hilton Head, South Carolina
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2015

Capt. Sam was the best. We saw and learned so much. He treated out little girl like a star! Found tons of sand dollars. Highly highly recommend. Highlight of our trip.

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IslandExplorerHHISC, Public Relations Manager at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Island Explorer and Capt. Sam are glad to know that you had a "fabulous tour". Our goal is to always provide our guests with a safe, fun, and memorable experience. We're happy know that it was a highlight of your trip to Hilton Head. More 

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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?