If you are trying to decide between a trip to Disney World and a trip to the beach, you will want to read my Disney Hilton Head Review. It's the best of both worlds when trying to decide between a Disney experience or a family beach vacation. Disney Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina combines the magic of Disney and fun in the sun, and it is so much fun.
This Disney Vacation Club resort getaway isn't your typical beach vacation with tons of people, a boardwalk, and tons of cheap souvenir stores. The beaches aren't crowded, and some would say this is a great alternative to Disney World for people who love Disney but don't love crowded theme parks.
In fact, this Disney Vacation Club property is more like a traditional resort perched near the Atlantic Ocean, with a bit of pixie dust sprinkled on top. With bike paths and bike rentals, places for a quiet stroll, Cast Member-led activities and more, plus the amenities of home, it makes for a great quieter family vacation near the beach with the magic touches of Disney. Read this Disney Hilton Head review to learn everything you need to know about this unique Disney property.
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About Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
Disney Hilton Head Resort is located on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, just 20 minutes from another fun place for families to visit – Savannah, Georgia. This Disney resort opened in 1996 and covers 15 acres of Shelter Cove Harbor. It's one of 15 Disney Vacation Club properties.
While it's not right on the beach, there's a shuttle to Disney's beach house on Hilton Head Island. It's just five minutes away. Here, you'll find access to the oceanfront, beach house pool, and a restaurant.
It's designed like a 1940s low-country hunting lodge, and in true Disney Resort style, you will feel completely immersed in the theming. Though this Hilton Head Disney resort doesn't represent any specific Disney movies, it is designed similarly to many other Disney resorts where you feel transported into a different time or place. Honestly, I would say it is more like a fancy summer camp or cabin, which fits in perfectly in the serene surroundings.
What Makes Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort Unique
While most of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts are located either at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando or at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, this Resort on Hilton Head Island is one of the three DVC beach resorts. In addition to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, the other two beach properties are Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida, and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Oahu, Hawaii.
The Hilton Head Island Resort is different in that it has two sections of the main resort on the marina and the beach house. It is definitely the quietest of the three beach resorts, so it's great for a simple vacation or an adults-only trip (though it is family-friendly, so be prepared for kids to be there.) But it is a great place to slow down and enjoy a simple beach vacation with some magic of Disney.
Now, I have been to all three of the DVC beach resorts as well as many of the resorts at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland. As a DVC Member for 22 years and a planDisney Panelist 2023 for Disney Vacation Club (all opinions are my own in this article), I am definitely an expert and have a lot of experience on this topic and these resorts. You can check out my posts on Disney's Vero Beach and Aulani, as well as whether the Disney Vacation Club is worth it to learn more.
We love visiting Disney Vacation Club locations, but you may be wondering if the Disney Vacation Club is worth it. I say yes if you plan on visiting Walt Disney properties regularly. Since my whole family is a big fan of Walt Disney World, it's kind of a no-brainer for us.
Of the three DVC beach resorts, Hilton Head is definitely the quietest Resort. My husband and I enjoyed an adult trip there this summer, and my parents often make trips there. So, if a simpler family vacation is what you enjoy, this is the place for you. But that doesn't mean there aren't fun things for families and kids to do. Read on to find out what makes Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort special, as that's what you came to know!
Why Visit Disney's Hilton Head Resort
We love Disney's Hilton Head Island resort because it's quiet and not too busy. When you are looking for some Disney magic but with a slower-moving, relaxed family time at the beach, this is where you'll want to be. On one side, there is a shopping center with dining, a large marina, and places to sign up for boat tours. Broad Creek borders the other side.
The Spanish moss and live oaks give it an old-world feel, and the unspoiled nature makes it a beautiful southern location untouched by typical beach tourism and advertising.
About Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island Hilton Head Island, named after Captain William Hilton, who first discovered it, goes much further back to the Native Americans who settled here first. after Captain William Hilton, who first discovered it, but it goes much further back to the Native Americans who settled here first. Eventually, this island became a prime location for trading and played an important role as a base during the Civil War.
It still has shops, entertainment, and other stores, but local ordinances require them to be low-key and not as flashy as typical commercialized beach locations. That way, nothing takes away from the natural beauty and scenery of Hilton Head Island.
But don't think Hilton Head lacks things for families to do. There are nearby golf courses, activity programs for teens and kids, guided nature walks, and bike and other recreation rentals. And there's a free trolley, making it easy to get around the island.
It offers a charming and relaxing vacation that allows you to experience the unique South Carolina's low country way of life. But if you're looking for a busy beach vacation with a Myrtle Beach atmosphere, this isn't the right location for you.
Fun Things To Do at Disney's Hilton Head Resort With Kids
We love that this laid-back beach trip allowed us to bond as a family and spend quality time together. And we could still find plenty of things to do at the resort and on Hilton Head Island.
Pirate's Island Adventure Golf
This fun miniature golf plays on the famous pirate history of the American East Coast. No beach trip would be complete without mini-golf. We've played many rounds of golf here, exploring bridges, waterfalls, and other pirate scenery while you look for lost treasure inside the pirate's cave.
Guide Nature Walks
Disney's Hilton Head Resort is perched in the lowlands that will have you squishing through a marsh. We loved the guided nature walks with naturalists that helped us experience South Carolina nature in a whole new way. There are a few guided walks and activities you can do, such as:
- A beach nature walk
- Resort nature walk
- Meet the Naturalist chats
- Pinckney Island Wildlife Adventure
Nature Programs for Teens and Kids
Hilton Head Island has great nature programs for kids and teens that they'll love. One of our favorites was the Sea Life for Youngsters, where children aged 3 to 6 can learn about the local sea life.
Naturalist Programs for Youngeters is also a great program where kids get to join a naturalist for various programs designed for curious minds.
Harbour Town Lighthouse
Of course, you can't go to the beach without touring a lighthouse. The Harbour Town Lighthouse is one of the most iconic sights on Hilton Head Island. Nestled in the Harbour Town Marina, you can purchase tickets to climb the lighthouse and take in the stunning view of the scenery around it.
There are also two restaurants close to the lighthouse, Quarterdeck and The Crazy Crab, where you can enjoy the sunset and delicious local food. The Harbour Town Bakery and Cafe is also close by and a great place to eat breakfast to start your day. It's located inside the Sea Pines Resort, so you will have to pay $8 for a daily visitor pass for each car.
Watch Fireworks at the Shelter Cove Towne Center
On certain Tuesdays during the summer, you can get some ice cream at the Shelter Cove Towne Center close by and watch a fireworks show at dusk. The fireworks are part of the summer HarbourFest, which is a weekly summer celebration with entertainment, live music, arts and crafts, and more.
Go Biking Around the Island
Bike on one of the hundreds of miles of biking trails all over Hilton Head Island. At low tide, you can even bike on the beach because the sand is hard and flat, close to the water.
Visit the Coastal Discovery Museum
Learn about the history, environment, art, and culture of Hilton Head Island at the Coastal Discovery Museum. The museum is open seven days a week and features special events and experiences, tours, and exhibits.
There are also hands-on workshops, lectures, and group tours that provide a deep dive into the low country’s culture, environment, and history.
We love doing activities like this wherever we go because it allows us to learn more about each place we visit and enjoy the natural beauty of a location.
And, of course, there are plenty of places to shop for souvenirs and beach must-haves like salt water taffy, and fudge. Our favorite place to go is the Coligny Plaza Shopping Center, that is also home to The Island Fudge Shoppe.
Activities on Disney's Hilton Head Resort Main Property
Disney's Hilton Head Resort has two pools. One is at the Hilton Head Resort location, while the other is at Disney's Beach House.
The main resort property pool has a slide, hot tub, and splash pool for toddlers. There is also a pool table near the reception desk in the main resort, and you can also find a game room on the property.
The Community Hall is home to many activities, and you can enjoy one of the evening campfires and Live Oak Lodge, which has pool tables and outdoor activities. The gift shop is located right near the Community Hall.
You can rent any equipment you need, like bicycles, fishing gear, beach chairs, and games, at Broad Creek Rentals by the pool house. The island has miles of scenic bike trails with one 1.25-mile path that goes directly to Disney's Beach House.
Disney's Beach House has a heated pool and a place to get a snack. The Beach House includes indoor space with a television station, so DVC Members and guests can enjoy some quiet time if they are having too much fun in the sun.
The Beach House is right on the beach with direct beach access. It also has lounge chairs, towels, and restrooms.
Both pools have daily activities such as Disney Cast Member-led games, trivia, treasure hunts, and more.
You'll also find other games like table tennis, horseshoes, bocce ball, cornhole, crafts, basketball court, and other family activities near the main resort.
You can also take a 1.5-hour boat tour on Broad Creek, where you can see dolphins and other sea and animal life.
The nice thing about many of the onsite activities is that guests receive a schedule of the things going on each week.
Disney Hilton Head Resort Accommodations
The rooms at Disney Hilton Head Island are large, some of the largest in DVC resorts. Some rooms have a double sleeper sofa to accommodate more guests.
We love staying in one of the villas. They have one-bedroom villa and two-bedroom villa options, as well as a three-bedroom grand villa. These typically come with home-away-from-home amenities such as a full-size kitchen, in-room laundry, plenty of sleeping space, and gathering space for dining and family fun.
One of our family's favorite things to do is borrow board games from the resort and enjoy some family time in our Disney Hilton Head Resort villa. They really do try to make them feel like your home away from home.
There are also deluxe studios that make you feel like you're at a relaxing retreat but with that hunting lodge feel. The studios are usually suitable for one to four resort guests, with kitchenettes and access to onsite laundry.
The three-bedroom grand villa has a full-size kitchen and can sleep up to 12 people.
There are plenty of dining options all over the island, but the onsite dining options at Disney's Hilton Head Resort are a little underwhelming. That's one of the reasons we like to rent a villa, so we can cook there.
There are two main places to eat – Tide Me Over and Signals. At Signals, you can get things like fish tacos and sweet potato fries. Signals is at the Beach House, and Tide Me Over is near the main store and Big Dipper Pool.
Just beware that Signals and Tide Me Over are only open for breakfast and lunch. But at least they have some famous Disney snacks and treats like Mickey Waffles and Bars and Dole Whip Floats, as well as local favorites like Pimento Dip.
Honestly, be prepared to eat elsewhere on Hilton Head as there are places within walking distance, or you can take a bike or Uber if you don't have a car. There are some restaurants serving tasty food across the water at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina.
If you stay in one of the Hilton Head villas, we love getting fresh seafood from Barnacle Bills to cook ourselves. This DVC resort is like most others and designed for longer stays, so you have everything you need to cook, and there are grills sprinkled around the property.
Amenities and What's Close By
Disney's Hilton Head Island has the typical amenities you've come to expect if you visit Disney parks and resorts often. Bend & Stretchs, the fitness center, is small but has the normal exercise equipment.
Room amenities include:
- Free Parking
- A variety of transportation options
- Shuttle service to the beach house
- Online check-in
- Banking for guests who need to exchange foreign currencies
- Designated smoking areas
- Broad Creek Mercantile Shop – a general store.
- Laundry and mail services
- BBQ grills
- A lost and found
They even have a place to board your pet, as this is a must if you're traveling with animals.
If you are looking for additional things to do in the surrounding area, you might be interested in the Mitchelville Freedom Park Resort Grounds. It is a really interesting spot to learn about the history and people of the area. It also has beautiful walking trails and beaches, and it is a great place for family photos.
I also recommend checking out local activities like a boat tour, or you can rent bikes to enjoy the island.
What is there to do at the Disney Hilton Head Resort?
There are many fun things to do at this DVC Disney resort, such as:
- Guided nature walks
- Outdoor programs for kids
- Swimming pools
- The Disney Beach House
- Golf courses and golf lessons
- Outdoor games like tennis, bocce ball, horseshoes, cornhole, etc.
- Bike trails
- Picnic tables for picnics
And more fun things to do for families.
How far is the beach from Disney Hilton Head Resort?
The Disney Beach House is about one mile from the resort, and it's located on 3.5 acres of beautiful Atlantic Ocean beachfront. There's a shuttle to take you there, and you can rent all the beach equipment you need.
Does Hilton Head have Disney characters?
If you're looking to interact with Disney characters or experience character dining, Disney's Hilton Head Resort may not be the best vacation because it doesn't have any of these activities regularly. There are some characters throughout the day who lead activities or just say hi.
There is a daily schedule right outside the Community Hall and this is the best place to check for what is happening each day. Sometimes it's a character meet and greet and sometimes it's a campfire singalong. However, if seeing characters is a priority for you, you might be disappointed.
But this Hilton Head resort does have a special Disney touch that makes it feel like the theme park resorts. There are Disney topiaries as well as Disney crafts and trivia.
The legendary Disney service was exceptional, and the Cast Members were very friendly and nice. Plus, you might find some Disney touches in your room, like hidden Mickeys or Mickey-shaped plates to greet you on arrival.
Does Disney Hilton Head provide beach towels?
Yes, you'll find complimentary beach towels to use at each pool and the beach. If you're flying or have limited room for packing, this is a nice amenity for people who can't pack extra beach necessities.
Getting to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
You can either fly or drive to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. We flew into Savannah/Hilton Head (SAV) airport and rented a car, as it was closer than flying into Charleston. But Charleston, SC, is the other option for you.
- Savannah, GA /Hilton Head Airport (SAV): About 1 hour drive
- Charleston, SC Airport (CHS): About 2.5 hours drive
Final Thoughts On Disney Hilton Head Review
The neat thing is that Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort actually feels like a Disney vacation, even though Walt Disney World is hundreds of miles away in Florida. We love the unique atmosphere and scenery that allow you to experience low country life.
Now that you've learned a little bit more about this Disney Hilton Head Island vacation club property, are you ready to book your next Walt Disney vacation in South Carolina? I know you'll have as much fun as we did at this fun-filled location.
And if you're interested in learning about some more Disney Vacation Club locations, check out these posts on DVC Aulani in Hawaii and Disney's Hotel Vero Beach