Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is a great place to visit if you love the water. The island is packed with some of the best seafood restaurants in the South. Although there are plenty of waterfront dining locations in Hilton Head, not all of them have dockage. We pulled together a list of the best restaurants to visit by boat in Hilton Head. Whether you are on vacation in Hilton Head or you live there year-round, here are the top five best restaurants to visit by boat in Hilton Head.

Top Five (plus a few extra) Restaurants To Visit by Boat in Hilton Head

1.      Shelter Cove Marina

Shelter cove sits at the top of our list, not just because this is a great place to bring your boat but because of the number of restaurants that you can visit while you are there. If you want pizza, high-end waterfront dining, great seafood, Shelter Cove Marina has it all.

It is usually not that difficult to find a spot, but you can call ahead of time to make sure that there is not an event. In season they do fireworks and music some nights so you may want to get there a bit early.

As far as the restaurants are concerned, it’s hard to beat Ela’s. At Ela’s, you know the quality of the food you are getting is going to be extremely high.

Elas On The Water

Make sure you bring a change of clothes from your boat gear and flip flops. Ela’s is a classy place, and the food is top-notch. This is a perfect place for a special night out.

Bucci & Murray’s Pub On The Water

With Bucci and Murray’s, you won’t need to worry quite as much about your attire. If you want a great pizza and a few cold ones, this is a great place to stop. Bucci and Murrays are super family-friendly, and you will have a view of your boat the entire time you are eating.

Scott’s Fish Market

Scotts’s Fish Market is not just about the seafood. This is a beautiful spot to sit outside, listen to live music and enjoy a cocktail at the outdoor bar. Check to see what kind of special Scott’s is running; this could become your new hangout spot.

2.      Skull Creek Boathouse

Shelter Cove sits at the top of our list because it is an excellent spot for a variety of restaurants. Whatever you are in the mood for, you can find it at Shelter Cove. With Skull Creek Boathouse, you are looking at a single destination. However, it still has quite a bit to offer.

The Skull Creek Boathouse is part of the SERG group of restaurants. They own many restaurants on Hilton Head Island, and they focus on quality food at fair prices. At Skull Creek, you can choose to eat indoors or outdoors.

Inside the Skull Creek Boathouse, you will find the Dive Bar. The Dive Bar is a sushi bar, but there are also raw oysters and ceviche to choose from. Outside you will find the Marker 13 Buoy Bar. This is a great outdoor bar with some fantastic sunset views.

If you are traveling with your kids, you will enjoy the outdoor kids play area that they offer. If your children need a bit of time to run around after a trip on the boat, the Skull Creek Boathouse playground may help.

3.      Hudsons

Located directly next to Skull Creek Boathouse is Hudsons. To be honest, we like the feel and the food a bit better at Hudson’s than we do at Skull Creek. The only reason it moved to number three is that it doesn’t have quite as much to offer as far as dockage, a kid’s play area, a general store, etc.

If you want quality food from a family-owned and operated establishment, Hudsons is the way to go. The owners have kids, so when your child decides to checking out the dock is much more fun than sitting and eating, they completely understand and accommodate.

At Hudson’s, we love the quality and freshness of the food and the involvement of the owner to make sure that you have an unforgettable dining experience. These people are boaters and fishermen, just like you. This is a great place to support.

4.      Harbour Town

If you know Hilton Head, you may have thought that Harbor Town would come up first on our list. Although we think that Harbour town is a great spot when you are on the boat, some of the other small-town feel spots grab our attention.

Harbour Town is a very well known spot in Hilton Head with lots of shopping, dining, and of course, the iconic lighthouse. If you haven’t been to Harbour Town, which is inside the Sea Pines community, it is certainly worth checking out.

Harbour Town is just a short ride from the Shelter Cove marina via boat. Certainly, this is a busy spot with lots of action and events. You may want to plan this boat trip out ahead of time.


The signature restaurant in the Harbour Town area is the Quarterdeck. This is a medium-range restaurant that will allow you some higher-end seafood and also a chance to have a great sandwich. The Quarter Deck is open for both lunch and dinner.

5.      Up The Creek

Last on our list is Up the Creek Pub and Grill. Up the Creek is an excellent spot sort of in-between Shelter Cove and Harbour Town. If you want a more small-town feel with a great burger and fries, Up the Creek is the place to go.

Up The Creek has a great beer list, and the prices are affordable. When you go to Up The Creek, you dock at the Broad Creek Marina and then walk over. The restaurant is close, and chances are you will have a decent view of your boat if you sit outside.

Keep an eye on the live music schedule at Up The Creek. They have an excellent selection, and it continues almost year-round. Nothing makes for a better night out on the boat than a little live music and a great hamburger.

Things To Keep In Mind When Taking The Boat To A Restaurant In Hilton Head

Considering the fact that Hilton Head is an island, there are not that many places that you can dock your boat and eat. Many of the restaurants in Hilton Head are more inland and don’t have access to the water.

Since there is a limited selection, you may want to call ahead of time and make sure there is room to dock your boat. From what we have seen, most places will accommodate, but if you are choosing a very busy day of the week or time of the day, you may end up circling on your boat very hungry for a while.

Is It Worth Taking The Boat To Dinner In Hilton Head?

If you live in Hilton Head full time you may be debating as to whether or not it is worth taking the boat out to eat. However, the entire lunch or dinner can really have a different feel when you travel by boat. As we all know, the traffic in Hilton Head is starting to get a bit worse, but boat traffic still is manageable. Take away the stress of having to drive and head to dinner by boat.


If you love the beach, the boat, fishing, and seafood Hilton Head is a great place to visit. If you want a large variety of waterfront restaurants, Hilton Head comes up just a bit short. Although there are a few great spots, it is not like you have endless opportunities to bring your boat out for lunch or dinner.

The options that we listed are going to be your best bet for sure. We suggest you start at Shelter Cove Marina because of the variety, and it’s generally easy to maneuver yourself inside the Shelter Cove Marina.