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Address: 101 Marshland Rd, Hilton Head, SC 29926-2306
Phone Number:
+1 843-785-2100
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 7:00 am - 9:00 pm

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 intimate experiences.You may choose a Sunset Cruise, a 1-Hour Introductory Tour (only offered during the summer months), a 2-Hour Dolphin and Nature Excursion, or our 3-Hour Vanishing Island Expedition. 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. 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 599 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 540
  • 39
    Very good
  • 14
  • 3
  • 2
Simply the best

Highly recommend the vanishing island tour. We saw loads of dolphins up close and tons of sand dollars. The captain is very kind and informative.

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 6 days ago
Libby R
West Lafayette, Indiana
via mobile

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599 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 598: English reviews
West Lafayette, Indiana
Level Contributor
27 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 days ago NEW via mobile

Highly recommend the vanishing island tour. We saw loads of dolphins up close and tons of sand dollars. The captain is very kind and informative.

Thank Libby R
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We were so impressed with Captain Jim and his knowledge of the area. He took us out on a lovely afternoon ride, and we saw quite a few dolphin up close. The vanishing island was a special treat, and then we got to see a strand of feeding with more dolphins. It was a memorable day, and we definitely recommend... More 

Thank Minta52
IslandExplorerHHISC, Owner at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Thanks so much for alowing me so show you our beautiful lowcountry by boat. Myself, as well as all of our knowledgeable captains are always appreciative of positive feedback from our passengers. We hope you be back to see us next time you visit our area. The interesting thing about our trips, is that they are never the same. What... More 

Colorado Springs, Colorado
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Captain Rich was an exceptional captain! He was patient with our group of four women constantly asking questions about life in the marshland. He was a wealth of information about area wildlife, local haunts, shopping and restaurants.

Thank cookie4124
Stanley, WI
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 1, 2017

My family and I recently had the pleasure of enjoying an island tour with Captain Cody. He shared a wealth of information with us regarding the island's wildlife, history, and current events, such as the recent hurricane. There was no question that he couldn't answer. I highly recommend his tour!

Thank Barbara R
Austin, Texas
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 28, 2016 via mobile

Cpt. Cody did an excellent job of showing us the sites, talking through key points, but also not chattering the whole time like you see on other tours. The sunset cruise was amazing- beautiful views, plenty of dolphins and wildlife, and great photo opportunities.

Thank Nikki T
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
34 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 27, 2016

Captain Rich took us on the dolphin watch and sunset cruise and maintained a great balance of providing information about the island and the natural surroundings vs. tracking dolphins wherever we saw them (often). Would recommend.

Thank ETB8285
Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
47 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 2, 2016

We been to Hilton Head Island several times and seeing Hilton Head from the water brought a new charm to a beautiful Island. Our tour guide was very informative and the weather was good. Wec saw our share of dolphins and saw damage left by Hurricane Matthew.

1 Thank Steve B
Westerville, Ohio
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 16, 2016

Yesterday Captain Rich took us out to Vanishing Island and we saw Dolphins throughout the whole trip. It was a beautiful day to be on a boat and he gave us a fantastic tour. This is the fourth time I have done a tour with this company and I have never been disappointed. I chose Hilton Head as our destination... More 

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

Thank you so much for your kind words. We're glad that you had a "fantastic tour." It is the highest form of praise to have you return and join Island Explorer for a tour each year as you visit Hilton Head Island. Captain Rich and all of the staff at Island Explorer appreciate having you as our guests for a... More 

A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2016 via mobile

My husband and I went on this tour with Captain Rich. The tour itself was great. There was so much to see and learn. We saw quite a few dolphins on the sunset tour. Captain Rich was absolutely great!! He knew so much about the area. It was nice that he didn't just drive us around, he gave us a... More 

1 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
25 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 1, 2016

My husband and I, and my friend and her husband are camping in Hilton Head, and yesterday we took a boat tour with Island Explorer. It was great! Captain Rich is awesome! He was a great tour guide and gave us a lot of information about the area, and also answered questions about the damage from Hurricane Matthew. He was... More 

1 Thank Mary H
IslandExplorerHHISC, Owner at Island Explorer, responded to this review

Hi Mary, I am so happy you enjoyed your tour. Yes, seeing the damage caused by Matthew was shocking for those of us who live here. But it has somehow brought the community a little more together. I know that by spring things will be back together, and better than ever. Thank you for the great review, we look forward... 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?