Power Ranking Hilton Head Island’s Greatest Bars
So you think you know your way around the bar, eh?
Well let me tell you something; this is Hilton Head Island. Here, a cold drink and a great place to enjoy it is sacred. The bar is our temple and we are only too willing to pay our tithe and take in sunset after sunset with cold drink in hand in rapturous attendance.
So if you’d like to join the congregation of Hilton Head Island power drinkers, you’re going to want to pick your bar carefully. This isn’t a choice you should make lightly. This will be your pathway to the spiritual enlightenment that is a good buzz with a view.
For your convenience, we present our power rankings of the five bars on Hilton Head you must try. Disagree with our choices? Think there’s one we missed? Sound off in the comments and maybe we’ll add it to the next rankings.
No. 5 – Aunt Chilada’s
A bit of a darkhorse for our fifth entry, as it’s one of the few bars listed here that doesn’t include a beach.
What it does include is easy on-easy off access to the island’s miles and miles of bike paths, thanks to an inspired renovation a few years back to the outdoor bar. What had simply been some shrubbery and a stage that held a band once a year on St. Patrick’s Day has been transformed into an outdoor island hotspot with full bar and plenty of shaded seating.
With a front-row seat to the island’s main strip, Pope Avenue, it’s as close to the action as you can get without having to pour a roadie. (And for shame, we haven’t even mentioned Aunt Chiladas’ legendary happy hour).
69 Pope Ave., 843-785-7700
No. 4 – Ocean Lounge
Getting a little classy with our number four pick, we head to the Sea Pines Beach Club, which benefited tremendously from a multi-million dollar rebuild just a few years ago.
If nothing else came of that rebuild than Ocean Lounge, it still would have been money well spent. The second-floor location of this island jewel gives you mind-blowing panoramic views of the ocean, while a classy mix of well-curated wines and upscale premium-spirit cocktails keeps the proceedings elegant. This is the place you go when you have on your Sunday best and just feel like keeping it posh.
Make sure you get there on Tuesdays and Thursdays for live jazz.
88 N. Sea Pines Dr., 843-842-1888
No. 3 – The Triangle
We’re cheating here, since this is technically multiple bars (although, oddly, not three as the name might imply).
For decades, this has been the go-to spot for island nightlife – going all the way back to when there were in fact three bars. While the Hilton Head Brewing Co. has shut down (weep not – their north end taproom is still kicking), you’ll still find a little bit of whatever you’re looking for here. There’s the chic vibe and live music at The Boardroom, the dance-on-the-bar craziness at One Hot Mamas, the craft beer Graceland that is The Lodge, the classic hole-in-the-wall ambiance at Jump n’ Phil’s or the classic Irish pub (Hilton Head Style) at Reilley’s South End.
Each in its turn could vie for a spot on this list. But taken as a whole and you have a lock for third place.
Located just off Greenwood Drive before the Sea Pines gate.
No. 2 The Tiki Hut
Ah, the classic Tiki Hut. Where the drinks flow, the young and beautiful people play beach volleyball, and where a deep sunburn means you’re doing it right.
The island’s only bar on the beach, The Tiki Hut has emerged from a few transformative years to find its classic sand-caked vibe enhanced by a bigger stage for its rotating live-music acts as well as even more Tiki Hut – quite literally, as the signature thatch roof now stretches nearly the whole length of the bear.
This is the bar where thousands of Hilton Head Island residents made the decision to stop being a visitor. What will you decide there?
1 S Forest Beach Dr., 843-785-5126
No. 1 Pool Bar Jim’s
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
That’s certainly the case with Pool Bar Jim’s, when iconic island bartender Jim Lisenby suddenly vanished from behind the familiar bar that bore his name at Marriott Grande Ocean Resort last year.
He was mum on details on the split with local media, and we respect the man’s privacy. But nonetheless, tons of a visitors and locals were beside themselves that Jim might not serve them another drink.
Fortunately, Jim was back at the blender within a year, opening a new location for Pool Bar Jim’s beachside at the Sea Crest Resort. It’s the same masterclass in skilled cocktails, with an all-new waterfront vibe that makes the whole thing that much better and lands it at our No. 1 spot.