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Hilton Head Island's gated communities are commonly referred to as plantations. Below are a list of some of the notable plantations, staples of the town. The ones listed below allow short term rentals or have hotels available.
1 - Sea Pines: Sea Pines is the largest and oldest community on the island covering approximately 1/3 of the island. Sea Pines boasts four golf courses (one is private) which includes the famous Harbor Town Course, host to the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing. They also have two tennis clubs. The Sea Pines club in Harbour Town is run by Wimbledon winner Stan Smith. There are two "towns" on the plantation. Harbour Town and South Beach. The public access to residents and visitors is at the beach club which is halfway between the two towns. The two marinas have charter boats and tour boats available. There is shopping available in both Harbour Town and The Sea Pines Center. There is a small group of stores in South Beach. Each area has it's share of restaurants. The resort has available for visitors a few small hotels, condos, homes and timeshares.Don't forget to climb the famous red and white lighthouse. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Tybee, Ga., lighthouse. And make sure to eat lunch at The Salty Dog in South Beach.
2 - Palmetto Dunes: This is a beach-oriented community. Like Sea Pines it has both top rated tennis facilities and three golf courses. All the courses are public. Palmetto Dunes is divided into two parts 'Mariner" and "Inverness". Inverness has mostly condo complexes including five that are directly on the ocean. the other condos are situated a short walk from the beach. Mariner has a few condo complexes, but the majority of homes are found here. All the oceanfront homes are on this side of the resort. The complex also has a 13 mile lagoon system, and visitors can rent canoes and kayaks to navigate. It also has good fishing from the lagoons. There are two hotels in Palmetto Dunes. The Marriott and the Hilton Oceanfront resort are both oceanfront facilities. Outside of the hotels, there is a small general store and one restaurant, Alexanders. The people at the general store are friendly and helpful and Alexanders will run you about $15 and up for a plate. Closely aligned with Palmetto Dunes is Shelter Cove Harbor which is on the other side of the main road U.S. 278. Here you will find shops and restaurants. There is a Belks Department Store and Kroger supermarket. The Arts Center of the Lowcountry is here also. They present shows and concerts. Shelter Cove has a marina and like Sea Pines you have charter craft and excursion boats. The Disney Resort timeshare is here, and they run trams to their beach house in Palmetto Dunes. During the season April through October the PD Buggy will take visitors between the two venues, and some other nearby attractions.
3 - Port Royal Plantation: Much of this plantation is gated, meaning you will need a pass to enter. It has a few hotels and timeshares including Marriott's Barony Beach, and the Westin Hotel , which is probably the best hotel on the island. There is also a few smaller timeshare resorts close by and condo complexes which have short term rentals. There are three golf courses available, though one is normally only available to members. The private course varies from month to month. They also have a very nice tennis facility, including the only grass courts available on the island. This facility is favored by tennis pros from around the east coast who bring their students to the island for tennis clinics.
4 - Shipyard Plantation: This plantation is primarily condo's and timeshares. It is also home to the Sonesta hotel. None of the these are oceanfront, but they do have beach access in an area next to the Sonesta. It is the Home of Dennis Van Der Meers Shipyard Tennis Center. This world reknowned teacher is the reson why many tennis players come to Shipyard. The plantation sports 27 holes of golf which are very nice to play. Other than the restaurants at the Sonesta, you have to leave the plantation for eating and shopping.
5 - Forest Beach: This is the largest ungated area on the island. Like Palmetto Dunes the southern area is mostly condos, and the northern area is mostly homes. Forest Beach was developed early and many of the accommodations are dated. On the other hand you have lots of restaurants and nightlife within walking distance, and the Coligny Plaza shopping area has the most stores on the island. The biggest hotel in Forest Beach is the Holiday Inn and is on the beach. The beach is fairly crowded because the public beach is situated in the Forest Beach area. It has been announced that the Holiday Inn - Oceanfront is to be torn down soon. It will be replaced by a condo development. (The Holiday Inn completed a major renovation in 2012, doubt it will be torn down now.)The local hang out, The Tiki Hut, is a great place for enjoying a few drinks and volleyball on the beach. The locals rallied around this little gem to save it from being torn down. Please pay it a visit.
6 - Folly Field: Here you have some of the oldest condos, and the most expensive homes on the island. Folly Field is located mid island and is a mix of homes and condos. Other than home building on or near the beach, most of the homes in this area date from the fifties. The condos available here are also older than most others on the island. As a rule they are nicer than those on Forest Beach with some exceptions, and some (Island Club, and Hilton Head Island Beach & Tennis Resort) have resort amenities. Hilton Head Island Beach & Tennis Resort amenities include villa rental, restaurants and bars (open to the public) as well as pools, seasonal beachfront tiki bar, ballrooms, meeting space, fitness center and a top ranked tennis facility with ten hard courts.