Recently rated number-one family resort in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure, the well-run Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort (4 Queens Folly Rd., 800/827-3006, www.palmettodunes.com , $150–300) offers something for everybody in terms of lodging. There are small, cozy condos by the beach, or larger villas overlooking the golf course, and pretty much everything in between. The prices are perhaps disarmingly affordable considering the relative luxury and copious recreational amenities, which include 25 miles of very well-done bike trails, 11 miles of kayak/canoe trails, and of course three signature links. As with most developments of this type on Hilton Head, most of the condos are privately owned and therefore each has its particular set of guidelines and cleaning schedules.
One of Hilton Head’s favorite hotels for true beach-lovers is the Holiday Inn Oceanfront (1 South Forest Beach Dr., 843/785-5126, www.hihiltonhead.com , $200), home of the famed Tiki Hut  bar on the beach. Staff turnover is less frequent here than at other local accommodations, and while it’s no Ritz-Carlton and occasionally shows signs of wear, it’s a good value on a bustling area of the island. Parking has always been a problem here, but at least there’s a free valet service.
By Hilton Head  standards, the Main Street Inn (2200 Main St., 800/471-3001, www.mainstreetinn.com , $229) can be considered a bargain stay, and with high quality to boot. With its Old World touches, sumptuous appointments, charming atmosphere, and attentive service, this 33-room inn on the grounds of Hilton Head Plantation seems like it would be more at home in Charleston  than Hilton Head.
They serve a great full breakfast—not Continental—daily 7:30–10:30 a.m. As a bonus, most of the less-expensive rooms have a great view of the formal garden, another part of that old Lowcountry appeal that’s hard to come by on the island. If you want to upgrade, there are larger rooms with a fireplace and a smallish private courtyard for not much more. Overall, it’s one of Hilton Head’s best values.
Another good place for the price is the South Beach Marina Inn (232 S. Sea Pines Dr., 843/671-6498, www.sbinn.com , $186) in Sea Pines. Located near the famous Salty Dog Café  and outfitted in a similar nautical theme, the inn not only has some pretty large rooms for the price, it offers a great view of the marina and has a very friendly feel, great for families with kids and romantic couples alike (especially with a beach on calm Calibogue Sound only a couple minutes’ walk away). As with all Sea Pines accommodations, staying on the plantation means you don’t have to wait in line with other visitors to pay the $5 a day “road fee.” Sea Pines also offers a free trolley to get around the plantation.
One of the better resort-type places for those who prefer the putter and the racquet to the Frisbee and the surfboard is the Inn at Harbour Town (7 Lighthouse Ln., 843/363-8100, www.seapines.com , $199) in Sea Pines. The big draw here is the impeccable service, delivered by a staff of “butlers” in kilts, comprising mostly Europeans who take the venerable trade quite seriously. While it’s not on the beach, you can take advantage of the free Sea Pines Trolley every 20 minutes.