Lowcountry real estate truly offers the best of both worlds.
Now that you’ve found your way to the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry, you have an important decision to make. Should you live on Hilton Head Island, with its beautiful beaches and resort amenities, or should you live in Bluffton, with its small-town vibe and eclectic flair?
To some, this is a no-brainer. But to many, the decision between these two equally attractive locales can be grueling. Each offers a distinct personality, lifestyle and culture, but they both dazzle with charm and Lowcountry beauty.
So which one is right for you? We’ll break down what awaits you in each, so you can make your decision with confidence.
Hilton Head Island
Since it entered its modern era with Charles Fraser’s founding of Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island has constantly raised the bar for laid-back luxury living and redefined itself as a world-class destination and hometown.
Long thought of as simply a golf getaway, the island has expanded its profile brilliantly with beautiful beach parks, a thriving arts scene and restaurants that have foodies flocking here. As more development has begun outside the gates of the various private communities that dot the island, a concerted effort has helped create a more cohesive hometown for those looking to stay longer than a golf vacation.
Over the years, Hilton Head Island has cultivated a well-deserved reputation as an upscale hideaway, but don’t ever confuse upscale with stuffy. This is still an oceanside paradise after all, and Hilton Head Island never forgets that people are drawn here just as much by the crisply manicured fairways as they are the wide sandy beaches.
As such, Hilton Head Island thrills with a vibe that some describe as easy-going opulence. Save the tux for special occasions, but keep your flip-flops handy. You’ll need them both.
Hilton Head Island wrote the book on beachfront luxury, with high-end gated resort communities from north end to south end. If you’re looking for extravagance, you’ll have plenty of options. On the north end, Windmill Harbour offers a nautical vibe amid lush waterfront views while Spanish Wells delights in bucolic splendor with deep water access and lush wooded lots. Mid-island the offerings expand to include Palmetto Hall, Wexford and Long Cove Club. And of course, on the south end is the one that started it all, with luxury beachfront and golf view homes to be found throughout Sea Pines.
Since officially forming as a town in 1983, Hilton Head Island has strived to create a true hometown for residents. You’ll find plenty of summertime activities for the family and no shortage of community organizations meeting regularly at the Hilton Head Library, while volunteer opportunities abound at the island’s many non-profit organizations. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina offers a whole calendar of terrific Broadway-quality shows, contributing to an arts scene that dazzles with brilliant works from many talented islanders. From north end to south end, you’ll never have to go too far for groceries, and Hilton Head Island’s public beach parks make it the envy of every East Coast beach town.
Once a sleepy little fishing village just over the bridge from its more famous neighbor, Hilton Head Island, this one-square-mile town has come into its own over the last 20 years as a destination in its own right.
Growth first came along the Buckwalter Parkway corridor, with family-friendly communities adding new residents by the truckload as Bluffton began its first boom. Soon, Bluffton’s one square mile was redubbed Old Town, sitting at the nucleus of a staggering new town that encompassed family communities, luxury communities and a host of amazing amenities.
Bluffton is unapologetically eclectic, even as new developments create a more upscale vibe in Old Town. Park at the Calhoun Street Promenade and you’ll find gleaming new luxury cars parked next to golf carts, enjoying equally the Southern charms of Bluffton.
Bluffton has been a lot of things in its storied history – a breezy getaway for wealthy planters, a quiet farming town, a funky arts community – and each chapter has left an indelible imprint on what Bluffton is. The result is a town that can host a swanky oyster roast on the banks of the May River one month, then fill Calhoun Street with a cast of colorful characters in the annual Christmas Parade the next.
Just because Bluffton has a funky side doesn’t mean it can’t wow you with dazzling luxury lifestyles. Gated communities line William Hilton Parkway, presenting an array of prestigious homes in communities like Colleton River, Belfair, Rose Hill and Moss Creek. Whether you’re looking for deep-water access or lush golf views, you’ll find it at any one of the luxury communities in Bluffton. Plus, the equestrian opportunities at Rose Hill and Moss Creek are among the world’s finest.
And further afield, you can’t mention Bluffton luxury without mentioning Palmetto Bluff. You can enjoy quiet solitude among huge wooded lots, or immerse yourself in the small-town atmosphere of one of their village cottages. Either way, you’ll be part of a community within a community offering every level of luxury.
Decades of careful development have made Bluffton extraordinarily livable, with plenty of activities, amenities, shopping and dining gathered around three distinct areas.
Along Buckwalter you’ll find Berkeley Place with its restaurants, shops and movie theater. Just down the road, Buckwalter Place offers a bowling alley, dining and grocery stores. On the main drag of William Hilton Parkway, various shopping centers provide the Lowcountry’s big box shopping opportunities, as well as numerous grocery stores and restaurants. Finally, Old Town Bluffton has reinvented itself in recent years as a fully walkable destination, with fine dining and quaint antique stores just steps away from historic churches and cocktail lounges.
In between, Bluffton’s many parks let you run the kids around, enjoy tranquil river views and just enjoy the small-town vibe of this once-tiny river town.