Paradise is all around us, but even the locals know that the ultimate relaxation on the island is a great meal with a stunning water view. Fortunately for you, this list of Lowcountry proprietors has perfected this unbeatable combination.
Hudson’s Seafood House On the Docks
The restaurant with one of the best views of Port Royal Sound also takes much of its signature shrimp from the sound — one of two remaining shrimping operations on the islands uses the Hudson’s dock in exchange for the restaurant having first right of refusal on its catch. The décor is simple and old school and the boat-shaped gift shop kitschy, but the food and the views are still top notch.
If you’re looking for a more festive atmosphere at Shelter Cove after a day of riding bikes, this is the place. Overlook the marina as you revel in a simple yet sophisticated Mexican setting, complete with outdoor bar. The foot-long burritos and margaritas continue to win annual adulations from the locals, and a helping of fried ice cream makes the experience complete.
Old Oyster Factory
This Marshland Road staple was voted one of the top 100 scenic view restaurants by Open Table. Built on the site of an early 1900s oyster cannery, the restaurant honors the history of the Broad Creek fisherman with some of the area’s finest seafood. For more than 25 years, diners have enjoyed a succulent meal while taking in the marshland landscape.
Owner Jim Buckingham and his staff have crafted the perfect duo of cozy and chic at this Shelter Cove eatery. Fresh-from-scratch appetizers and entrees are the signature of this French-infused bistro. The huge wooden rack inside sets the mood for a laid-back night and dogs are always welcome to take in dinner with their owners on the patio.
One of the newest entries to the waterfront dining scene, boasting a rooftop bar overlooking the cove and located next to the new waterfront park at Shelter Cove Towne Centre. An oyster bar, outdoor dining area and a VIP lounge are among the highlights of this latest infusion to the island nightlife scene, where country line dancing has already become a Wednesday night staple.
Quarterdeck & Topside Waterfront Restaurant
Golf fans who take in the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing have long marveled at the spectacular views at this Sea Pines icon. The moored yachts, the 18th green of Harbour Town Golf Links and the calming waters of Calibogue Sound are all within your view. The Quarterdeck provides a pub-style menu with Angus burgers, tortilla wraps and caramel apple pie, while Topside offers a more elegant, seafood-focused dining experience to take in the best views of the island’s waterfront sunsets.
Up the Creek Pub and Grill
A seafood shack that can also boast some of the best barbecue in the area? Indeed, that’s what you’ll find here. This Simmons Road spot has managed to create a down-home atmosphere with a beachcomber vibe overlooking Broad Creek, not to mention a menu that features succulent burgers and finger-licking pulled pork sandwiches.
Skull Creek Boathouse
One of the island’s first waterfront favorites is thriving thanks to an extensive renovation. Take in the raw bar at the Dive Bar inside the restaurant, or pull up a stool at the Buoy Bar on the outside patio. The views of Skull Creek are breathtaking, but the inviting atmosphere is the calling card of this Squire Pope Road favorite. The signature terrace set among live oaks and booming outdoor fans will draw you in. Little touches like chalk for the kids to draw on the asphalt win us over every time.
Black Marlin Bayside Grill
This Palmetto Bay Marina dockside favorite is one of the best spots for boat watching in the area thanks to its expansive patio. Seafood and steaks are the menu mainstays, but the Key West vibe is unmistakable. The sushi nachos and fish tacos are mouthwatering. The waterside Hurricane Bar is a must, as is the weekend eggs Benedict brunch.
Old Fort Pub
This Skull Creek eatery consistently delivers on the promise of the most elegant and romantic nights out in the Lowcountry. The sunset views through the trees lining the outdoor seating area are among the most spectacular you will see on Hilton Head. The simple yet exquisite American- and Lowcountry-focused food offerings and extensive, award-winning wine list are the cherry on top.
Sea Pines Beach Club
The forefather of all Hilton Head water views, the 40-year-old jewel got a $10 million facelift that has accentuated everything we’ve ever loved about the club. The newly renovated club includes Coast, an upscale eatery and oceanfront bar; Surfside Market for quick eats like salads and sandwiches; and the Ocean Lounge, a second-floor bar with elevated views of the ocean.
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa’s newest restaurant and bar plays heavily off the resort’s location at the heart of the 32nd parallel, including the bar’s signature 32-degree frozen cocktail. The food is as intoxicating as the poolside and ocean views, with menu offerings such as the Palmetto Ale Fondue with freshly baked pretzels, local sausage and spicy mustard and a pimento cheese sandwich recipe from Mary and Elizabeth, two of the resort kitchen’s most veteran staffers.
ELA’s Blu Water Grille
The 2014 Taste of the Season winner has also been recognized by Monthly as the perfect date night and special occasion spot, and for good reason. Freshly caught seafood and perfectly cooked steaks are the mainstays of chef Ryan Alpaugh’s menu, and the casual but intimately romantic garden patio and artwork of local artist Pete Karis accent the waterfront views perfectly.
The Chart House
This eatery provides the upscale alternative to Hudson’s just a few yards away. The Hilton Head version of the 28-location chain offers a high-end seafood menu and the company’s signature Hot Lava Chocolate Cake as the decadent exclamation point to a filling night out. The patio is perfect for viewing Skull Creek sunsets, and the fire pits ensure comfy happy hour outdoor viewing year-round.
Scott’s Fish Market
It’s been an icon for more than 20 years at Shelter Cove Marina, just to the right of Neptune’s statue. The sprawling deck offers some of the best mealtime boat watching in the Lowcountry. The Caribbean vibe and décor shine through in the menu, which features charbroiled and grilled seafood specials. The outdoor bar, Hurricane Harry’s, features live music and the perfect view of the weekly fireworks during the summer.
La Fontana Waterfront Grill & Pizzeria
You’ve seen a lot of seafood spots and one French-focused restaurant on this list. La Fontana is our Italian option for waterfront dining. Owner Robert Murray bought the former Little Venice and recruited Charleston restaurateur and Naples native chef Gary Langevin to create an authentic, Naples-infused menu. The result: great views overlooking Shelter Cove Marina coupled with pizza, paninis and calzones for lunch and upscale Italian dishes for dinner.