The name itself evokes the sounds of ships' bells and a coastal town dripping in golden sunlight reflecting off of sparkling waters, while seagulls call overhead in the ocean breeze. All who enter this conveniently-located -- yet relatively little-known -- gem are taken by its Charlestonian charms, natural Lowcountry surroundings and the magnificently subtle elegance perfected by only a relative handful of communities. It is a sanctuary unto itself.
While it boasts a Hilton Head address, Windmill Harbour is technically located on Jenkins Island, a stop between the mainland (after crossing Pinckney Island, the whole of which is a beautiful wildlife refuge) and Hilton Head Island proper. As a result, "that place you pass on your way to/from the island" is overlooked by many in the search for their next home.
It may be their biggest mistake.
The disclaimer: If you couldn't tell already, Windmill Harbour is one of my very favorite communities here in the Lowcountry. It's beautiful, interesting, walkable, well-established, and is the home of the South Carolina Yacht Club (more on that in a moment). So, as a self-proclaimed expert on this neighborhood, I'm going on a mission to increase knowledge of this amazing place. Allow me to give you a little tour.
Traveling east on 278 (the main road running through Bluffton and onto and around Hilton Head Island), you cross over a small series of bridges, landing first on Pinckney Island, and then on Jenkins. As you bear left to follow 278 at the base of the bridge, plan to turn right at the second sign beckoning you to Windmill Harbour and the South Carolina Yacht Club, at the manned security gate (don't worry - there's a turning lane).
Welcome to Windmill Harbour. To your left: The estate side, with larger lots, beautiful interior and marsh-front properties, and home to the community pool and boat ramp. To your right: The Yacht Club side, the location of Windmill's several villa complexes, the Yacht Club itself, the SCYC Sports Complex, and Windmill Harbour's Community Dock.
Begin by turning left from the guard house onto Harbour Passage, offering beautiful marsh and water views of Jarvis Creek adorned with Charleston-inspired architecture. Passing a patio street with adorable homes to your right, you approach Millwright Drive, an elegant residential road with moss-draped oaks and colorful flowers dotted about. Before looping into a quiet cul-de-sac, Millwright is flanked by Sailstock Point and Fantail Lane.
Continue on Harbour Passage for a beautiful view of quintessential Lowcountry-meets-Charleston architecture. A bit further on, you will find Indian Hill Lane, a great pocket neighborhood that houses the community pool and some beautiful marsh-front homes. Passing Old Ferry Point, a short cul-de-sac with several lovely homes that overlook the water, taking Harbour Passage to the end will bring you to the Harbormaster's Office and Marine Store, as well as the boat ramp. This completes the estate side of the community.
Turning right at the guard gate brings you to Crosstree, the mainline into the Club side. Here, you will find all of the several villa options within the community, as well as marsh-front, interior and harbor-view homes (some with their own dedicated, attached slips). Crosstree's marsh-view homes begin to the right with 44 Crosstree, continuing along with lovely vistas of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).
Continuing along, Yacht Club Drive soon appears to your left.
A second quick left bring you to Sparwheel Lane, a lovely street comprised mostly of interior homes set closer together, with wonderful access to the Club and amenities. Homes are nicely landscaped, and the architectural style varies significantly while maintaining a classic elegance befitting the community. Sparwheel terminates in a circle, on which some waterfront homes are situated. Homes on this street are within a very convenient distance to both the Yacht Club and harbor, and some of these are wonderfully whimsical-yet-luxurious colorful townhouse, complete with those coveted direct harbor views.
Continuing on Yacht Club Drive, you'll find the homes and villas of Spindle Lane and Leeward Passage. These are located exceedingly close to the Club and Harbour Promenade. Leeward Passage (all villas) offers some lovely townhouse styles, as well as single-floor units stacked in twos. Spindle Lane's waterfront villas offer gorgeous harbor views, and all are within walking distance of the Club and it amenities.
Nearing the end of our tour, we return to Crosstree to continue past Yacht Club Drive. Doing so will reveal additional marsh-front homes in the vertical Charleston style, in an array of beautiful coastal colors (mostly stucco, but sometimes in lap siding). At the end point of Crosstree, owners, members and guests will find the SCYC Sports Complex, homes of the tennis courts, fitness center, and pool with a wonderful outdoor pool bar and food service. The Windmill Harbour Community Dock -- perfect for fishing, crabbing and kayaking -- can be found across from the parking lot.
A quick aside: It's good to understand the relationship between Windmill Harbour and the South Carolina Yacht Club. Unlike many communities in our area that require membership in the onsite club, these two are entirely separate, if not geographically (though a great deal of Windmill owners are also Club members). The Yacht Club serves as the jewel of the community, but membership is entirely optional for both residents and non-residents.
Among the benefits of membership in the Club:
- Access to a wonderful harbor-view pool with an open-air pool bar
- Programs for children and juniors: sailing, tennis and swimming
- Reciprocal membership with Haig Point and a host of other clubs nationwide
- Tennis courts and fitness facility
- Fine and casual dining
- The piece de resistance: A 15.5-acre inland marina and lock system, one of only three on the east coast
While Windmill Harbour is not a golfing community, residents have exclusive access to a Wednesday Golf Group, as well as special rates though Brown Golf Management Group for the following courses: Dolphin Head (Hilton Head Plantation), Eagles Pointe, The Crescent, Pinecrest, Rose Hill, and Island West. No space within Windmill is taken by golf amenities, but residents have no shortage of access to excellent courses. This access is further enhanced by membership in the Yacht Club, which affords members reciprocity with Haig Point, including golf privileges.
It's easy to see why this fantastic community truly has something for everyone, and works equally well for primary or vacation residences. If there is anything that I didn't cover that you'd like to know more about, please get in touch or ask in the comments!