Hilton Head Island, sometimes referred to as simply Hilton Head, is a Lowcountry resort town located on an island of the same name in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. It is 20 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles southwest of Charleston. The island is named after Captain William Hilton, who in 1663, identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which he named "Hilton's Head" after himself. The island features 12 miles of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2004, an estimated 2.25 million visitors pumped more than $1.5 billion into the local economy.
The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality in 1983 and is well known for its eco-friendly development.The town's Natural Resources Division enforces the Land Management Ordinance which minimizes the impact of development and governs the style of buildings and how they are situated among existing trees. As a result, Hilton Head Island enjoys an unusual amount of tree cover relative to the amount of development.Approximately 70% of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities. However, the town maintains several public beach access points, including one for the exclusive use of town residents, who have approved several multimillion-dollar land-buying bond referendums to control commercial growth.
Hilton Head Island offers an unusual number of cultural opportunities for a community its size, including Broadway-quality plays at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the 120-member full chorus of the Hilton Head Choral Society, the highly rated Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, the largest annual outdoor, tented wine tasting event on the east coast, and several other annual community festivals. It also hosts the Heritage Golf Classic, a PGA Tour tournament played on the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Resort.