Advertisement

South Carolina has some of the most beloved beaches on the East Coast — powder-soft sand lapped by warm Atlantic waters. It only follows that many of the Palmetto State's favorite resorts are located in communities by the shore, from more popular destinations like Hilton Head to quieter towns like Bluffton and serene islands like Kiawah.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more.  Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island scene from the sky above with the greenery and ocean coastline
Credit: Courtesy of The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Of the 10 South Carolina resorts on this new World's Best list, nine are located along the coast. The one non-beach resort that made the list is located at the state's western edge, in Aiken. Other amenities that keep guests coming back: impeccable golf courses and relaxing spas

Many of these resorts cater to families, who return year after year to enjoy a kid-friendly getaway — and not just in the summertime. One reader's family has gone to Montage Palmetto Bluff, the second-ranked resort, two years in a row at Christmas. Another liked staying at Montage so much that "I am buying a home in Palmetto Bluff." 

Even with the bar for the category set quite high, the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort exceeded readers' expectations and came out on top. Find out why — and which other resorts claimed spots on the inaugural South Carolina resorts list.

1. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort guest room with double beds
Credit: Courtesy of The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

There is much to love about this sprawling resort on Kiawah Island. "The views of the ocean are amazing from every room as well as from the lobby and the bar," one reader pointed out, adding that "the outdoor pool is beautiful, with a fountain and a wonderful deck, while the indoor pool is great for laps." The Sanctuary also gets high marks for excellent service — "the waitstaff anticipates your requests before you voice them," said one loyal fan, while another devoted customer added, "They go out of their way to offer many things to appeal to a wide variety of people." That includes children: one family noted that the smoothies served at the kiddie pool were a total hit with their little ones.

Score: 93.89
More information: kiawahresort.com 

2. Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina

Aerial view of Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina
Credit: Courtesy of Montage Palmetto Bluff

Score: 92.19
More information: montagehotels.com

3. The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Guestroom at The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Marina Resort
Credit: Courtesy of The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Marina Resort

Score: 91.56
More information: charlestonharborresort.com 

4. The Willcox, Aiken, South Carolina

The Wilcox in South Carolina
Credit: Courtesy of The Wilcox

Score: 90.91
More information: thewillcox.com 

5. The Inn & Club at Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The Inn & Club at Harbour Town library with fireplace
Credit: The Sea Pines Resort/Rob Tipton

Score: 89.82
More information: seapines.com 

6. Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Outdoor porch with chairs at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
Credit: Courtesy of Disney

Score: 88.79
More information: hiltonhead.disney.go.com 

7. Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Exterior and pool view of Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa
Credit: Courtesy of Marriott

Score: 85.27
More information: marriott.com 

8. Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Wild Dunes Resort Boardwalk Inn Pool
Credit: Courtesy of Wild Dunes Resort

Score 84.88
More information: destinationhotels.com 

9. The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Guestroom at Westin Hilton Head Resort & Spa
Credit: Courtesy of Westin

Score: 84.26
More information: marriott.com 

10. Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Lobby of Omni Hilton Head Island Resort
Credit: Courtesy of Omni Hotels

Score: 84.19
More information: omnihotels.com 

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.