From the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, you can experience vistas similar to the sights that the great seamen of Europe must have seen when they first guided their ships in Calibogue Sound. You can see the shoreline of Spanish wells where the Spanish arrived first in 1521 under the lead of Captain Cordillo. Lucas De Ayllon, a fellow adventurer, established a settlement here of some 500 people in 1526, but it lasted only a short time and little is known of its existence.
A century later in 1663, Captain William Hilton arrived on his ship, the Adventure, sailing out of the British territory of Barbados. Hilton had been sent to explore the lands that King Charles II had granted to eight of his chief supporters, the Lord Proprietors.
It was the result of this act that this region came to be known as “Carolina” in honor of King Charles. Captain Hilton found fresh water and game here and spoke most favorably of the island in his ship’s log. He marked it on his chart as “Hilton’s Head” because of a high bluff located in Hilton Head Plantation, now known as Dolphin Head. It could be easily recognized from the ocean approach to Port Royal Sound.
ISLAND ARTIST WALTER GREER’S PAINTING OF CAPTAIN WILLIAM HILTON’S SHIP ADVENTURE