Shelter Cove on Hilton Head Island: Exploring the Hidden Gem

Nestled on the northern side of Hilton Head Island, Shelter Cove is a testament to the stunning natural beauty of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. This picturesque area is renowned for its captivating views, charming destinations, delectable dining options, and a plethora of attractions that beckon tourists from far and wide.

Let’s dive deeper into the wonders of Shelter Cove. We’ll unravel a tapestry of history, attractions, and activities that make it a must-visit destination for any traveler! 

History of Shelter Cove

To truly appreciate the essence of Shelter Cove, we must delve into its rich history intertwined with the broader narrative of Hilton Head Island. Originally inhabited by Native American tribes who recognized its strategic location and abundant resources, Hilton Head Island has a history that predates recorded time. With the arrival of European settlers, the island’s significance grew, evolving into a hub for trade and maritime activities.

Shelter Cove, nestled on the island’s northern side, played a pivotal role in this history. Initially utilized by indigenous peoples and later by European colonists, the cove provided shelter and sustenance for generations of inhabitants. Over time, it became a focal point for trade and commerce, serving as a gateway to the island’s bounty.

As Hilton Head Island evolved, so did Shelter Cove. Its natural beauty and strategic location made it a coveted destination for travelers and settlers alike. The first investors formed the Palmetto Dunes Development Corp. This company eventually turned the area into the grand yet laid-back community that it is today. 

Attractions in Shelter Cove

Travelers will enjoy two major attractions while staying next to Shelter Cove.

Shelter Cove Marina

At the heart of Shelter Cove lies its bustling marina, a vibrant hub of activity and excitement. Boasting shops, restaurants, and recreational opportunities, the marina serves as a gateway to the myriad wonders of the surrounding waters. Shelter Cove Marina is also the location for various community events, which are typically open to the public.

The marina is also home to the Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina shopping mall. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, stores, and other stalls offering everything you need for an unforgettable island adventure.

Broad Creek

Meandering through the landscape, Broad Creek is a scenic waterway that adds to Shelter Cove’s charm. Visitors can embark on leisurely boat tours or simply soak in the tranquil ambiance while savoring a waterfront meal. For nature enthusiasts, the creek teems with fascinating wildlife, offering glimpses of dolphins, birds, and other indigenous species in their natural habitat.

Adventures for Nature Lovers

Shelter Cove offers plenty of activities for travelers who want thrilling adventures or laid-back trips.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

There’s no better way to immerse in Shelter Cove’s natural splendor than by gliding across its shimmering waters on a kayak or paddleboard. With rentals readily available, adventurers of all skill levels can navigate the labyrinth of creeks and marshes, discovering hidden gems and secluded beaches along the way.

Dolphin Tours

Embark on a thrilling dolphin tour and witness these majestic creatures frolicking in their native environment. Led by knowledgeable guides, these excursions offer unparalleled opportunities to observe dolphins up close while learning about their behavior and habitat.

Wildlife Photography

With its diverse ecosystem and breathtaking scenery, the are provides a paradise for wildlife photographers. Capture stunning images of egrets wading through marshes, ospreys soaring overhead, or the golden hues of a Lowcountry sunset painting the sky.


For avid anglers, the area offers prime fishing grounds teeming with a variety of species. Visitors can simply cast a line from the shore or charter a boat for an offshore expedition. The waters here promise an abundance of excitement and adventure — and fish!

Local Events

In addition to their natural beauty and historical significance, Shelter Cove and Hilton Head Island boast a vibrant calendar of local events that celebrate the island’s culture, heritage, and community spirit. Throughout the year, residents and visitors alike can partake in an array of festivities that showcase the best of what the island has to offer. 


One of the most anticipated events is HarbourFest, a summer-long celebration that takes place from June to August. Featuring live music, arts and crafts vendors, delicious food, and family-friendly activities, HarbourFest transforms the marina into a lively hub of entertainment and excitement. 

Holiday Celebrations

As the holiday season approaches, Shelter Cove comes alive with festive cheer and merriment. From the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony to holiday parades and festive markets, the island offers plenty of opportunities to get into the holiday spirit and create lasting memories with loved ones.

Where To Eat

Shelter Cove restaurants primarily offer seafood fare thanks to the area’s proximity to the ocean. However, there are plenty of other cuisines to try. 

  • ELA’S On the Water: Offering breathtaking waterfront views and an upscale dining experience, ELA’s On the Water specializes in expertly prepared seafood dishes and handcrafted cocktails. It’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Bistro 17: Experience the flavors of France at Bistro 17, where Chef Jim Buckingham showcases his culinary expertise with a menu of classic French dishes infused with Lowcountry flair, all served in a charming waterfront setting overlooking Shelter Cove Harbour.
  • Scott’s Fish Market Restaurant & Bar: With an extensive menu of fresh seafood, steak, and sushi, Scott’s Fish Market Restaurant & Bar provides a laid-back dining experience at the Marina.

Plan a Shelter Cove Adventure With Beachside Hilton Head

Ready to experience the enchantment of Shelter Cove firsthand? Travelers can make the most of their visit by booking a rental through Beachside Hilton Head Island. We have a wide selection of vacation homes and villas conveniently located near Shelter Cove. Whether it’s a cozy beachfront retreat or a spacious rental, Beachside Hilton Head Island has what visitors need. Contact us today or browse the available properties