The name itself evokes 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.
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 our 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 experts on this neighborhood, we’re going on a mission to increase knowledge of this amazing place. Allow us to give you a little tour.
Traveling east on 278 (the main road running through Bluffton and onto 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 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.
Let’s Take a Tour
The Estate Side
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 beautiful homes that overlook the water, taking Harbour Passage to the end will bring you to the Harbormaster Marine Store as well as the boat ramp. This completes the estate side of the community.
The Club Side
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 harbour-view homes. 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 brings you to Sparwheel Lane, a lovely street comprised mostly of 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 fitting of 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 the wonderfully whimsical-yet-luxurious colorful townhomes, 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. Nearly, if not entirely, all of the space of these lots is taken by the home itself, and locations are exceedingly close to the Club and Harbour Promenade. Leeward Passage (all villas) offers some lovely townhome styles, as well as single-floor units (upstairs and downstairs being separate homes). Spindle Lane’s waterfront villas offer gorgeous harbor views, and all are within walking distance of the Club and its 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, home of the tennis courts, fitness center, and pool with a wonderful outdoor pool bar. The Windmill Harbour Community Dock — perfect for fishing, crabbing and kayaking — can be found across from the parking lot.
The Yacht Club
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 bar and poolside service (let’s be honest — that’s enough of a reason to join)
- Programs for children and juniors: sailing, tennis and swimming
- Reciprocal membership with Haig Point and a host of other clubs nationwide
- Tennis courts and a fitness facility
- Fine and casual dining (and as foodies, we’ll tell you: this club has one of the best kitchens on the island, and a wonderful staff)
- The pièce de résistance: A 15.5-acre inland marina and lock system, one of only three such private systems on the east coast
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.
To recap, Windmill Harbour residents also enjoy the following amenities:
- A community pool, located on Indian Hill Lane
- A community dock, perfect for crabbing, fishing and kayaking
- Two ocean piers with magnificent sunset and open water views
- Picturesque pocket parks and walking trails
- The postcard-perfect harbour promenade, a lovely place for a stroll or bike ride
It’s easy to see why this fantastic community truly has something for everyone, and works equally well for primary or vacation residences.
As always, if there’s anything you’d like to know that we’ve not covered, or any questions at all, please let us know in the comments.
This post was originally published on August 29, 2016.