Sea Pines – Vacation Home and Villa Rentals - Hilton Head Island, SC
Sea Pines is one of the first planned communities in the United States. In 1957 Charles Fraser had the foresight to develop a resort on Hilton Head Island that would blend into the environment rather than stand out. This unique design, described as the 'Sea Pines Style' or 'Lowcountry Architecture' was defined by large overhangs, low roof slopes, 'natural' colors on the houses that blended into the background and native plantings. He and his cohorts developed 'T-Roads' with houses along the oceanfront (instead of roads) and subsequent rows of homes set back from the ocean. Sea Pines is the largest of the gated communities on Hilton Head (approximately 55 square miles) and can be entered by the main gate off of Greenwood Drive (off of the Sea Pines Circle) or the Ocean Gate that is found at the end of South Forest Beach.
Talking to random people about Hilton Head Island, often shows that all they know is Sea Pines and the famous red and white striped lighthouse that is in Harbour Town. Fraser was a master of marketing and knew that an Island known mostly for mosquitoes and not much else was going to need something to make it stand out, so he came up with the idea of the lighthouse (which has never been a working one, but its light can be seen for 15 miles) along with a golf tournament he dubbed the Heritage Golf Classic (now the RBC Heritage). It certainly helped that in 1969 Arnold Palmer won the inaugural tournament, his first win in 14 months. It put Hilton Head and Sea Pines on the map as did an innovative technique of using limited marketing dollars to attract visitors in land-locked states that were within driving distance. And that is why we still, to this day, have so many visitors from OH, PA and MI - through word of mouth they attracted all their friends and relatives.
For many visitors, Sea Pines is the only choice, and there are many reasons why this is. From outstanding choices for rental homes and villas, the beautiful Inn at Harbour Town and Sea Pines Conference Center, to friendly bike paths that weave around the plantation, to world class golf and tennis, to three separate shopping and dining areas along with a forest preserve, stables and two different marinas, there is absolutely something for everyone within the gates of Sea Pines. There are homes and villas on the water, be it the Atlantic Ocean, Calibogue Sound, Braddock Cove or even a lagoon or marsh. Perhaps you would rather have a view of a fairway; with three golf courses - Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and Ocean Course - there are certainly many choices for that too. There are villas and homes that view or are very close to Harbour Town and its marina, shops and activities or to South Beach Marina and its village and the famous Salty Dog.
There are actually more rental homes in Sea Pines than villas or condos and these can range from 2 - 8 bedrooms that sleep from 6 to 27 people. They range from oceanfront and just a few rows back, to golf views in the middle of the plantation, to wooded or lagoon views. They can be close to Harbour Town, South Beach or Sea Pines Center but all are close to bike paths that will take you anywhere in Sea Pines Resort. The majority of the homes have a pool or access to a pool, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV's and some will have grills so you can hone your bar-b-que skills. Four bedroom homes are the most prolific and they have bedding for eight to 14 people but there are even 8 bedroom homes that are mini-retreats all on their own. And if you want to bring Spot along, well, there are a few homes that will let you do that too.
Villa and condo complexes are all over Sea Pines. Some are close to the entrance gates so that you can easily get in and out of the resort to see and do things all over Hilton Head. Others are way back in South Beach where you might not care if you ever leave the area. There are 1 to 4 bedroom condos, from oceanfront hi-rises to townhome villas that stand on their own. Whether you are couple here for a romantic getaway or want to sleep 8 or 10 comfortably, a villa can be the perfect choice for you. For oceanfront villa views of the Atlantic Ocean look for the Turtle Lane Club, but BeachsideTennis, Lands End and South Beach Club are all at a point on the Island where the Calibogue Sound flows into the ocean, so you actually might see both. There are villa complexes that are considered a walk to the ocean such as Sound or Bluff Villas, Plantation Club or Ocean Course Villas. Choosing a condo considered 'a ride to beach' also can mean you are close to Harbour Town like a Clipper, Ketch or Cutter Court, Harbour Town Club Villas, Stoney Creek and Heritage Villas. There are also units that have tennis courts on site such as Racquet Club Villas or Lighthouse Tennis. These are just a sampling of complexes that are the reason why Sea Pines can be the right choice for an excellent vacation.
Once you have found the perfect vacation rental, now is the time to figure out what activities you can do in Sea Pines. Ride a bike either on the beach or down the winding bike paths that will take you past Lawton Stables or to the wonderful Harbour Town playground. Lawton Stables has trail rides through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, a petting zoo and even Harley, a beautiful Clydesdale. The Sea Pines Forest Preserve includes lakes to fish in, trails and boardwalks over marshes to walk, birds to be watched and a 4,000 year old Indian Shell Ring. Shopping districts abound here from the New England-style fishing village of South Beach Marina that includes the original Salty Dog, to the mid-plantation Sea Pines Center with lots of good food, or the classic Harbour Town and its myriad of shops and restaurants (which must include a walk to the top of the Lighthouse where you can even buy some collectibles). Restaurants range from the elegant, like Topside Waterfront Restaurant, Harbour Town Grill or CQ's, the long standing classics like Crazy Crab, Truffles or Salty Dog along with many different eateries, bakeries and pubs alike. There are also water-oriented activities at either of the marinas at South Beach or Harbour Town such as dolphin and fishing tours, kayaks, paddleboards and jet skis to be rented - even parasailing for the more adventurous souls.
Sea Pines Resort is also synonymous with golf and tennis, winning worldwide acclaim in both areas. The PGA chooses to play its only tournament in SC here at the RBC Heritage Classic, and it is consistently voted as one of the favorite courses the pros play. Recently reworked, Heron Point by Pete Dye has become a new classic and there is always the timeless Ocean Course with its panoramic view of the ocean on the 15th, which shouldn't be missed. The Sea Pines Racquet Club has grown into one of the premier resources for tennis players. Under the guidance of Stan Smith, the former U.S. Open and Wimbledon Champion who has also been Director of U.S. Olympic Men's Coach, everyone receives the personal attention that makes each guest feel important.
There are two Island classics that must not to be missed: they are Gregg Russell playing under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town and the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament. Gregg has been singing to families for over thirty years and the kids he sang to years ago now bring back their kids to sit up on stage and enjoy the family friendly show with multiple generations. If you are here in the summer he generally plays at 8PM every night but Saturdays and then he plays at other times throughout the year. And then there is the Heritage…even if you don't like golf there is nothing like walking a beautiful course on a spring day. It is worth the price of admission just to see the fashion strolling by as well as the pro's ripping it off the tee. Book your stay for the week after The Masters and buy a ticket, you won't regret it.
Hilton Head Island is one of the nicest places to vacation, regardless of what time of year you decide to stay, and Sea Pines must be top on your list. So even if you don't stay in Sea Pines at least once during your stay you should pass through the gate to see the sights.