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Hilton Head Island

Town of Hilton Head Island

  •   State: 
    South Carolina
    Beaufort County
    Hilton Head Island
      County FIPS: 
    32°10′44″N 80°44′35″W
      Area total: 
    69.13 sq mi
      Area land: 
    41.35 sq mi (107.10 km²)
      Area water: 
    27.78 sq mi (71.95 km²)
    10 ft (3 m)
    1983; Incorporated (town) 1983
  •   Latitude: 
      Dman name cbsa: 
    Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC
    Eastern Standard Time (EST) UTC-5:00; Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) UTC-4:00
      ZIP codes: 

    Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States

  •   Population: 
      Population density: 
    910.72 residents per square mile of area (351.63/km²)
      Household income: 
      Unemployment rate: 
  •   Sales taxes: 
      Income taxes: 

Hilton Head Island, sometimes referred to as simply Hilton Head, is a Lowcountry resort town and barrier island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. The island is named after Captain William Hilton, who in 1663 identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which mapmakers named "Hilton's Headland" The island features 12 miles (19 km) of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2004, an estimated 2.25 million visitors infused more than $1.5 billion into the local economy. The year-round population was 37,661 at the 2020 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 150,000. The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality in 1983 and is well known for its eco-friendly development. Approximately 70% of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities. 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. The Sea Pines shell ring is one of at least 50 known to exist, is 150 feet (46 m) in diameter and is believed to be over 4,000 years old. Two other shell rings on Hilton Head were destroyed when the shells were removed and used to make tabby for roads and buildings. The Green's Shell Enclosure, Sea Pine's and Skull Creek shell rings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are protected by law.


Hilton Head Island is the primary city name, but also Hilton Head are acceptable city names or spellings. The official name is Town of Hilton Head Island. Since the beginning of recorded history in the New World, the waters around Hilton Head Island have been known, occupied and fought for in turn by the English, Spanish, French, and Scots. A Spanish expedition led by Francisco Cordillo explored the area in 1521, initiating European contact with local tribes. The Green's Shell Enclosure, Sea Pines, and Skull Creek shell rings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are protected by law. In 1788, a small Episcopal church called the Zion Chapel of Ease was constructed for plantation owners. On October 29, 1861, the largest fleet assembled in North America moved south to seize it. In the Battle of Port Royal Sound, the U.S. Navy came under attack and on November 7, 1861 it fell to over 12,000 Union troops. The fort was renamed Fort Welles, in honor of the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. The oldest intact structure on Hilton Head is the Baynard Mausoleum, which was built in 1846. It is located near the corner of William Hilton Parkway and Mathews Drive (Folly Field) Charles Davant, a prominent island planter during the Revolutionary War, is memorialized there. During the Civil War, Fort Walker was a Confederate fort in what is now Port Royalsound. It was vital to the southern economy and trade of Sea Island Cotton and the Broad River and the Beaufort River, which fed the 2-mile wide (3 km) entrance to PortRoyal Sound.


Hilton Head Island is 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and 90 miles (140 km) south of Charleston. The town has a total area of 69.2 square miles (179.1 km²) Hilton Head Island has a humid subtropical climate - Köppen climate classification Cfa, represented humid summers and mild winters. The north end of the island is a sea island dating to the Pleistocene epoch, and the south end is a barrier island that appeared as recently as the Holocene epoch. The Hilton Head island area is home to a vast array of wildlife, including alligators, deer, loggerhead sea turtles, manatees, hundreds of species of birds, and dolphins. It is one of the few places on Earth where dolphins routinely use a technique called "strand feeding", whereby schools of fish are herded up onto mud banks and the dolphins lie on their side while they feed before sliding back down into the water. A town ordinance stipulates that artificial lighting must be shielded so that it cannot be seen from the beach, or it must be turned off by 10:00 p.m. from May 1 to October 31 each year. The Coastal Discovery Museum, in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, patrols the beaches from May through October as part of the Sea Turtle Protection Project. During the summer months, the museum sponsors the Turtle Talk & Walk, which is a special tour designed to educate the public about this endangered species.


Although the town occupies most of the land area of the island, it is not coterminous with it. There is a small part near the main access road from the mainland, William Hilton Parkway, which is not incorporated into the town. Hilton Head (the island) therefore has a slightly higher population (48,407 in Census 2000, defined as the Hilton Head Island Urban Cluster) and a larger land area (42.65 sq mi or 110.5 km²) than the town, which has a population of 37,661. The median income for a household in the town was $68,437, and the median family income was $85,296. The largest self-identified ancestry/ethnic groups are: African American, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino of any race, and 1.2% from two or more races. The town is located in Beaufort and Jasper counties, which have a combined year-round population of 193,882. It is located on the Atlantic seaboard of South Carolina, near the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida. The population of the town in 2010 was 37,099, with 33,602 housing units, and a population density of 882.0 people per square mile (340.4/km²) The town has a total area of 42.06 square miles (109.4 km²), and a 2010 population estimate was 38,661, with 17,513 households, and 11,692 families.


According to Hilton Head Island's 2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the town are: Hilton Head Hospital, Hilton Head Medical Center, and Hilton Head Baptist Church. The town's unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate for the town is 2.9 percent, according to the town's report. Hilton Head is home to more than 1,000 people. The island's population is 1,200 people, and the town has a population of 4,000. It is located on the Atlantic seaboard and is part of the Atlantic Coast region of the U.S. and the state of South Carolina.

Parks and recreation

Public beach access is free. Island parks are free to use. Parking is free for annual beach pass holders. The parks are open to the public at all hours of the day and night. There are no fees for parking on the island. There is no charge for parking in the parking lot at the beach. The park is open to all residents and visitors. The beach is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with some parking reserved for annual passes. The public can use the beach's public beach access for free. The island has no charge to park in the park. The parking lot is open at all times, with the exception of annual beach passes, which are only available to those who have annual passes for the entire year. For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit For support on suicide matters call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch or see For support in the U.S., call the national suicide Prevention Line on 1-877-457-9255 or click here. For help in the UK, contact the Samaritan Samaritans at 08457 909090 or visit http://www or the Samaritans in the UK.


The Town of Hilton Head Island has jurisdiction over the entire island except Mariner's Cove, Blue Heron Point, and Windmill Harbor. The Town Manager is the chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch. The Mayor has the same powers, duties, and responsibilities as a member of the Town Council. The town had a budget of $74,753,260 for fiscal year 2006/2007. The most recent budget, for the 2010/2011 fiscal year is $ 74,299,720.Office holders as of December 2020: Mayor, Town Manager, Town Council, Town Clerk, Town Treasurer, Town Trustee, Town Administrator, Town Planner, Town Code Enforcement, Town Planning, Town Building & Fire Codes, Town Finance, Town Human Resources, Town Legal, Town Court, and Public Projects & Facilities. Town has three separate fiscal accounting funds: the General Fund, the Capital Projects Fund, and the Debt Service Fund. The General Fund is the operating fund for the town and accounts for all financial resources of the town. The Capital Projects fund is used to acquire land and facilities, and improve public facilities, including roads, bike paths, fire stations, vehicle replacement, drainage improvements, and park development. The Debt Service fund accounts for the accumulation of resources and the payment of debt. Town Council exercises all powers not specifically delegated to the Town Manager. Town Manager: Town Mayor. Town Town Council: Town Town Manager; Town Council Member: Town Council member; Town Town Clerk: Town Trustees.


Hilton Head has a public library, a branch of the Beaufort County Library. The island is home to the Hilton Head Island International Baccalaureate Elementary School. The Island Academy of Hilton Head is a private school. The town is also home to Hilton Head Christian Academy and Sea Pines Montessori Academy. It is located on the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, near the town of Beaufort. It has a population of about 2,000. It was founded in 1837. The Hilton Head School District was established in 1838. The school was named after the town's founder, William Hilton Head, who founded the first school in 1839. The current school was founded by his son, William "Bill" Hilton, in 1852. The district was named for its founder, George Hilton, who was a member of the original board of trustees for the College of William and Mary, which later became the University of South Carolina and the College of North Carolinas. It also has a chapter of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which opened in 1854. The school is located in Beaufort, South Cape Fence, South Carolina. It is home to a number of private schools, including Hilton Head Preparatory School, Hilton Head Christian Academy, and the Island Academy of Hilton Head, a private boarding school for girls. The public school is the Hilton head Island Early Childhood Center, which has a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.


Hilton Head Island is served by the Hilton Head Airport which is owned by Beaufort County. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines serve the airport. In the first half of 2019, the airport saw a 225% increase in passengers arriving and departing, when compared with the same time period one year prior. The island is equipped with an enhanced 9-1-1 system. The Breeze public trolley service is provided by the Lowcountry Regional Transit Authority. There are seven fire stations on Hilton Head Island. Police services are contracted through the Beaufort county Sheriff's Office. The airport is served seasonally by The Breezle public trolleys. There is a public library on the island, which is open to the public. The Hilton Head County Jail is located in the town of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It is the largest jail in the state, with more than 1,000 inmates. The jail is located on the town's main road, which was built in the early 1900s. It was built to house the county's first jail, which opened in 1903. The prison was built on the site of a former plantation. It has a capacity of 1,500 inmates. It also has a jail that can hold up to 1,200 inmates at a time. The hospital has a cell phone network that is available to the general public. It offers 24-hour emergency services. The Island has a fire department that began operations July 1, 1993, as a consolidation of the former Sea Pines Forest Beach Fire Department and the Hiltonhead Island Fire District.

Air Quality, Water Quality, Superfund Sites & UV Index

The Air Quality index is in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina = 62.4. These Air Quality index is based on annual reports from the EPA. Higher values are better (100=best). The number of ozone alert days is used as an indicator of air quality, as are the amounts of seven pollutants including particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and volatile organic chemicals. The Water Quality Index is 60. A measure of the quality of an area’s water supply as rated by the EPA. Higher values are better (100=best). The EPA has a complex method of measuring the watershed quality, using 15 indicators such as pollutants, turbidity, sediments, and toxic discharges. The Superfund Sites Index is 73. Higher is better (100=best). Based upon the number and impact of EPA Superfund pollution sites in the county, including spending on the cleanup efforts. The UV Index in Hilton Head Island = 5.5 and is a measure of an area's exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. This is most often a combination of sunny weather, altitude, and latitude. The UV Index has been defined by the WHO ( and is uniform worldwide.


The most recent city population of 37,661 individuals with a median age of 49 age the population grows by 0.14% in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina population since 2000 and are distributed over a density of 910.72 residents per square mile of area (351.63/km²). There are average 2.29 people per household in the 14,648 households with an average household income of $67,116 a year. The unemployment rate in Alabama is 7.40% of the available work force and has dropped -6.56% over the most recent 12-month period and the projected change in job supply over the next decade based on migration patterns, economic growth, and other factors will increase by 19.48%. The number of physicians in Hilton Head Island per 100,000 population = 255.7.


The annual rainfall in Hilton Head Island = 52.1 inches and the annual snowfall = 0.1 inches. The annual number of days with measurable precipitation (over .01 inch) = 104. The average number of days per year that are predominantly sunny = 215. 89 degrees Fahrenheit is the average daily high temperature for the month of July and 38.7 degrees Fahrenheit is the average daily low temperature for the month of January. The Comfort Index (higher=better) is 33, where higher values mean a more pleasant climate. The Comfort Index measure recognizes that humidity by itself isn't the problem. (Have you noticed nobody ever complains about the weather being 'cold and humid?) It's in the summertime that we notice the humidity the most, when it's hot and muggy. Our Comfort Index uses a combination of afternoon summer temperature and humidity to closely predict the effect that the humidity will have on people.

Median Home Cost

The percentage of housing units in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina which are owned by the occupant = 41.22%. A housing unit is a house, apartment, mobile home, or room occupied as separate living quarters. The average age of homes = 21 years with median home cost = $344,720 and home appreciation of -14.54%. This is the value of the years most recent home sales data. Its important to note that this is not the average (or arithmetic mean). The median home price is the middle value when you arrange all the sales prices of homes from lowest to highest. This is a better indicator than the average, because the median is not changed as much by a few unusually high or low values. The property tax rate of $5.10 shown here is the rate per $1,000 of home value. If for simplification for example the tax rate is $14.00 and the home value is $250,000, the property tax would be $14.00 x ($250,000/1000), or $3500. This is the 'effective' tax rate.


The local school district spends $4,772 per student. There are 11.4 students for each teacher in the school, 669 students for each Librarian and 427 students for each Counselor. 6.72% of the area’s population over the age of 25 with an Associate Degree or other 2-year college degree, 30.15% with a master’s degree, Ph.D. or other advanced college degree and 14.53% with high school diplomas or high school equivalency degrees (GEDs).

  • Hilton Head Island's population in Beaufort County, South Carolina of 3,656 residents in 1900 has increased 10,3-fold to 37,661 residents after 120 years, according to the official 2020 census.

    Approximately 50.55% female residents and 49.45% male residents live in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina.

    As of 2020 in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina are married and the remaining 31.86% are single population.

  • 18.9 minutes is the average time that residents in Hilton Head Island require for a one-way commute to work. A long commute can have different effects on health. A Gallup poll in the US found that in terms of mental health, long haul commuters are up to 12 percent more likely to experience worry, and ten percent less likely to feel well rested. The Gallup poll also found that of people who commute 61­–90 minutes each day, a whopping one third complained of neck and back pain, compared to less than a quarter of people who only spend ten minutes getting to work.

    75.17% of the working population which commute to work alone in their car, 13.52% of the working population which commutes to work in a carpool, 1.59% of the population that commutes using mass transit, including bus, light rail, subway, and ferry. 6.03% of the population that has their home as their principal place of work.

  • Of the total residential buildings in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina, 41.22% are owner-occupied homes, another 11.61% are rented apartments, and the remaining 47.17% are vacant.

  • The 31.61% of the population in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina who identify themselves as belonging to a religion are distributed among the following most diverse religions.

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