Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort - A Trip Report


I have always wanted to do a trip report, but never do it because I work really hard to be in the moment and make sure I am spending time with my family (I would totally do it on a solo trip) and I just get lazy at the end of the day.

BUT, I am currently staying at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and thought “this is the perfect time to do a trip report”, because 1)we are not always on the go and 2) there isn’t a ton of information on this forum about Hilton Head. I also decided to put this here instead of under DVC, so it doesn’t show up on a google search.

The set up. We bought DVC in April of 2020 (AKL). I was kind of shocked that my husband agreed - but he is really awesome and understands that Disney is my happy place. He enjoys Disney, but also really likes chilling at the beach or anywhere with a nice view of nature, so I thought Hilton Head would be a nice way to give something back to him. And use all those points that built up over 2020 and 2021. Since booking this trip, we had an amazing time at AKL over Christmas - and he is more “into” Disney than ever. And it has become clear that we need more points. Especially if Hilton Head goes into our rotation.

Work has been extremely busy, including travel for our annual conference the week before our trip. The day after I arrived at conference I woke up with what a I call the “spring chest crud”. This has been a gift given to me in my 40’s where I often get a nasty upper respiratory infection right in time for conference. It puts me at about half energy, feeling like shit and it takes about 3 weeks to recover. For the record our conference was amazing, but exhausting. And there were all those emails to catch back up on.

My DD11 has gotten used to me being home with COVID and was not happy about me being gone for a full week - anxiety and sadness. My husband’s work was extra stressful from having to arrive late and leave early for two days in a row (he works all kinds of hours typically). Definitely time for a vacation.

But wait, while we are gone, our floors are being refinished, so on Saturday before we left, we had to remove every piece of furniture on our main floor, and clear shelves and counters to keep everything from being covered by the dreaded fine mist of sawdust. It was a long but satisfying day - because we actually did it.

Travel day is after the break. Headed to the pool (we are on day 3). Will catch us up by tonight - and promise lots of Hilton Head and DVC resort details.

My house as we left it.

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Oh! Thank you for doing a report!

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Looking forward to this! We love Hilton Head Island (going for our third trip in June). We’re not DVC, but we have visited the property there. Very nice and peaceful. Have fun!

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Can’t wait to hear about HH; we’ve been talking about it for a family destination.

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I love Hilton Head Island! My family visits every few years, but we stay at a Marriott vacation club. The beaches are great for families (waves aren’t too big and the sand is lovely), the nature of the area is really beautiful, and the dining is top notch. I haven’t visited the DVC resort there (at least not up close), but I’m curious what you think.

Have fun!

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Day 1: We live in the Washington D.C. area and all the districts are on Spring Break. To make sure we didn’t hit awful traffic we were cruising by 6:45 am. We made it to the NC boarder in 3 hours, which hasn’t happened since the early 2000’s. So great start to the day.

We ended up making the drive in 10 hours including a sit down lunch, making arrival time 4:45. Traffic on I-95 cleared up after we passed the Wilmington to Myrtle Beach region. My sister is headed to Disney next week, so I spent the car ride “testing” out a day for Hollywood studios I had created for her. These are the ways I pass my time.

I don’t know about you, but I am usually a mess when I arrive at a new place. It just takes me a second to get I oriented, I get snippy because I have one mission: establish home base. I had checked in on line, and requested marsh view, first floor. When they showed me my building -13- I was disappointed because it is right next to the big main building and seemed like a long walk from the action by the pool and pier.

The CMs at check in were lovely and told me it was actually the best building - it is quiet and has the best view of the marsh.

They were right:

DD and I set off to explore the resort before dinner and left DH like this:

There are lots of great little spaces in the resort - I will be sure to get photos of those for a different day. It took is no more than 5 minutes to get to the pool from our room, a nice, easy, scenic walk. As we were walking up we heard them playing “name that tune” at the pool - the song was “Into the unknown”. The CM leading the activity announced that the song was, “sung by Elsa, a totally straight ice queen played by Idena Menzel” much to the delight of my daughter. She thinks this cast member is particularly hilarious.

This area has the pool and the resort activities window. Here you can rent bikes, fishing and crabbing gear, and sign up for resort activities. The pier is right by the pool and talks you out over the marsh.

Upstairs from the rental location is the quick service (more on that later) bathrooms, refillable mug station and the small merchantile store. In the store and out on the patio by the QS, they were playing disney parks music - loudly. It of course made me happy, but I wondered if it would be too much Disney for my DH. I was also super thankful for Bldg 13. It is in a different league or “relaxing” from the rooms overlooking the pool, where I am sure you can hear everything.

For our arrival day, I made a 6:30 reservation at Fish Camp. Many of the top rated places to eat in Hilton Head do not take reservations. On arrival night I didn’t want to risk super long waits for dinner. Here’s the menu:

Our food was good, the servers (many high school students filling in for spring break) were very good, and the prices are great. We thought the seafood itself was the star rather than the sauces or other things rhe chef added to the dishes. I would recommend Fish Camp, but it isn’t a “must do”.

The last thing I wanted to talk about from Day 1 were the rooms or “cabins” but I think I"ll start a new comment for that.

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Thank you! We are having a great time. My husband really lives how much tree cover this island has. I know there are local ordinances about building within the existing tree cover; it makes for a beautif, sustainable island. I also love that the restaurants are not tourist traps - accept this terrible food
because we are a resort area - type places. They all show the love of seafood that is the history of this island. And coming from DC, the prices are super nice.

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The seafood on HHI is so delicious! Save a spot for me, going to grab a ticket …

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My daughter can sleep on the couch - we have a room with two beds reserved for you - two nights left.

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Thank you for including the link to the menu. Are all the places to eat there heavy on seafood? I have some family that would starve before eating :lobster: seafood :grimacing:. TIA

Seafood is really the star on this island. They are pulling it out of the ocean and putting it on your plate. For your purposes, note that I picked places known for seafood because my family really enjoys it. Since she was little, my daughter always chooses fish at a restaurant. My husband has had a low country boil 3 nights in a row, so that is a highlight for us.

But at Fisch Camp, honestly I saw the roast chicken go by and wished I had gotten that. It looked delicious. One place we didn’t decide to go was a highly rated place called Catch 22 - while that sounds seafood heavy they are known for net to table and farm to table food. I don’t think there is anywhere that doesn’t have non-seafood options, but often it is your basics - steaks, chicken tenders, etc. I’ll post menus of anywhere we eat.

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:rofl:

:flight_departure: :deciduous_tree: :mountain: :house_with_garden::deciduous_tree: :flight_arrival:

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Thank you for the detailed response :pray:

We enjoyed our lunch at Fish Camp I when we went in 2020.
The tree cover in the Island is wonderful. I love Spanish moss!

I’m enjoying your report and planning a HHI trip in my head now. :smiling_face:

Day 1 - Part 2: Disney Imagineering designs rooms as “Fishing Cabins”:

One of the most delightful parts of this resort is the attention that Disney Imagineers paid to the theming. You are supposed to feel like you are in someone’s personal fishing cabin, and I have to say, it really works.

We often stay long weekends through VRBO and other “for rent by owner” sites. When we go to the beach, I am a “sound side” gal - love overlooking the marsh and seeing all of the wildlife. For New Years Eve 2021 we stayed at a house on the Delaware shore that was the exact same color scheme as these “cabins” and I swear they have the same coat rack and bench in the entry way. So I am 100% buying it. I even excuse the fact that the rooms are due for a refurb (they aren’t terrible - nothing as bad as Boulder Ridge) because it feels so much like someone’s home.

Some of the great details:

“Personal” photos on the wall:

Disney’s recreation of the living room at our Delaware beach cottage (that was actually much smaller than this two bedroom):

People carved things into the entryway bench:

My personal favorites are the birds in the main bedroom - but I love birds.

Downsides:

  • As others have mentioned in the past, the walls are very thin. You can hear what is going on outside, and if you are near the pool, I am sure this affects afternoon naps and early bedtimes (pool closes at 9:00. We can hear the pitter pat of the little ones above us at 7:00 in the morning - it doesn’t wake us up, we are early risers, but if you were a light sleeper it would.

  • First floors are off the ground. It makes sense - you are on a marsh, so I am not questioning why. but it is worth noting sll rooms have steps to them, except the accessible ones which are connected to the main building which have an elevator. The views from this building are not as good as lucky 13 (or many other buildings) and it is further away from amenities.

  • If you want a studio or a 1 bedroom you will either be in the main building or under the grand villas. The buildings with the grand villas seem to have beautiful views but you have A LOT of people running around above you, and see my comments above about the main building.

None of these are game changers, just worth noting!

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I am embarrassed to admit how much I love live oaks and Spanish moss! :heart_eyes:

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You wouldn’t believe how many pictures I took of trees with Spanish moss while we were there! :joy: We don’t have it in Illinois.

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Day 2:

I forgot to mention we picked up groceries after dinner on our first night. Lots of choices for stores on the island - Whole Food, Publix, Kroger, and Harris Teeter at least. Even with lots of breakfast items in hand, neither me or DH felt like cooking breakfast, so we headed over to the “Tide me Over” quick service window for some Mickey Waffles and Beignets. The menu selection is really nice (I promise to get a photo).

To call this window a quick service restaurant is under playing the quality of the food that comes out of it. There are no warming pans with powdered eggs. Everything is coming out cooked fresh, and honestly, the eggs are the best I have had on Disney property. While not quite table service level, but I rate “'Tide me Over” as among the best Disney quick service.

Important Warning! The beignets are not Mickey beignets. And not the best thing on the menu. However there were Mickey Waffles.

After breakfast my daughter and I walked down to the pier - we both like fishing for crabs, had built that into our plan, so we were checking out the situation.

By the time we finished chatting with a super nice fellow guest, the recreation/rentals window was open. We were interested in signing up for some of activities and wanted to see about the rental options. They rent out or sell: lots of different bikes (including helmets) fishing rods, bait (shrimp), and have crab nets. You can also sign up for crafts activities and activities with the naturalist:

We chose to make Mickey wreaths on Thursday, and to take the resort nature walk with a naturalist on Tuesday. I would have liked to have booked the walk where they talk about the history of the resort, but that interfered with our pre-booked boat tour on Wednesday.

We headed back to the room - I had a couple of hours of work to catch up on - but we admired the not-so-wildlife on the way

My daughter misses her cats, so appreciated seeing this lady. She was busy hunting the many birds on property - I was busy shooing away a lovely bluebird. We both found it funny that it was a cat. The resort used to have a Golden Retriever as a kind of mascot until the current golden and its handler got Chapeked. They have literally removed all references to this golden, except for a piece of artwork in the rooms (which I am sure will be removed when they do a refurb) and the fact that these are throughout the walkways:

Later in the day we headed to the pool. The pool is nice enough. It has the same kind of rustic “work camp” theming as the one at Port Orleans, but does not come close to matching that pool’s amazing theming. While the resort is most defiantly booked full this week (spring breaks and the PGA tournament in town), the pool itself never felt crowded. That said, there is a shortage of chairs. They need about 15 more chairs and 5 more umbrellas out there to make sure everyone has a place.

Hanging out at the pool was much more relaxing, and much less - I guess - loud? than it seemed the night before. They intersperse the Disney music in the pool area with other music - everything from country to hip hop. And a lot of the Disney music is more obscure - like High School Musical 2, where you barely notice it is Disney. Once you go upstairs onto the patio with the QS and the shop, the music is louder and much more - in your face Disney. But you can’t hear that anywhere else, and I like it.

We played Pluto bingo, and later my daughter took part in the waterslide race. We thought it was lame that a few Dad’s had the best time. We thought they should have awarded an adult "winner’ and a kid “winner”. We discovered they not only have Dole Whips, but had lime floats on the menu - Lime soft serve with sprite

My daughter loved it, but I thought it was a bit fakey tasting. Sunshine Terrace remains my favorite Disney soft serve location - hands down. I was thrilled to discover they had mini corn dogs. They were good - crispy and hot.

Before leaving leaving the pool, we went by the recreation window to buy a crab net and to get some bait. We planned to get up early the next morning to try to catch crabs while it was still high tide - we had some crab lines, but wanted a net too. When I got to the window, they told me they didn’t have any nets put together, but if I gave them my room number, they would drop one off to us. They also gave us a couple of baggies of frozen shrimp to use as bait as no charge.

We went to dinner at the Crazy Crab - Jarvis Creek (there are two) and had reservations to sit outside. It was a perfect night with a nice breeze and we were on the railings overlooking the water. The place was packed and so service was a little backed up - though our server was attentive.

Side story: My daughter went to play on a playground that was on a spit of land between the restaurant deck and the water. Mostly there was fencing up between that spit and the water, but there were a few places with no barrier. There were lots of people standing on the waters edge, having a drink as they waited for their table. My husband asked if there were alligators around here. I KNOW there are alligators in this area because I had a conversation with a CM about it. On arrival night, after walking the resort, I went back to the front desk to thank them for our room assignment and tell them they were right. We started discussing how we should be able to see all kinds of animals from the porch - including dolphins. I asked if there were alligators and one CM said, "oh yeah. I have one who lives in my back yard. He’s at least 8 feet and we call him Mr. Big. :grimacing: She had some funny stories to tell about living with an 8 foot alligator in your back yard. But moral of the story is: Don’t stand right by the water when you are waiting for your table to get ready.

We came to Crazy Crab because they are known for their seafood boils. But the menu has other options:

While waiting for our food, the waiter brought us some hush puppies that can only be described as magical. These hush puppies will be legendary and fit in that “remember when we had those hush puppies at Crazy Crab? They were mind blowing.” category. There was a cover band playing a mix of ska, reggae (my DH favorite) and some alt pop. For dinner we got shrimp, crab legs and I also got the poke tuna nachos. It was all fantastic and very well done.

Dinner was one of those nights where your whole family is happy and starting to relax into vacation. My DH said, “yeah, I would come back here again.” To which I said, “if that’s the case, we are going to need some more points”. And wasn’t that my plan all along?

When we got back from dinner this was waiting for us:

I cannot say enough good things about the Cast Members here. They are all really amazing and friendly. I like that the resort is small enough that you can get to know people, and see them again from one day to the next. I know some people build that at WDW, but that has never happened to me until this trip.

We all agreed that this resort is perfect for an April vacation where the beach is less important 9because you can’t swim in the ocean) and the pool is the center piece. The pool is lively and fun, and in full swing. For us, we would rather go to Corolla in the Outer Banks for our beach vacation in the summer, but this location is perfect for an April-May, September-October trip. If you don’t like the beach - it is fantastic anytime.

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This is my favorite place to go! There are better seafood restaurants, but I love their hush puppies and the ambiance is great. And it’s easier to get in Jarvis Creek location, especially if you arrive before the dinner rush.

Oh, I see you agree about the hush puppies: :joy::joy::joy:

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