top of page

Home > Marina > History of the Shelter Cove

The Story of Shelter Cove
Harbour & Marina

Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina is now a bustling hub of shops, apartments, and events, nestled in the heart Hilton Head Island and an integral part of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. But rewind almost 40 years, and you'd find nothing but sand where the marina now stands.

In the early '80s, a massive project transformed the shoreline, with over 600,000 cubic yards of sand was removed from the harbour and created the cove and marina you see today.

Shelter Cove in the 1980's
Shelter Cove Harbourside I & IIGround Breaking

The first buildings, Harbourside I & II, broke ground in 1982, marking the beginning of a transformation. But it wasn't just about buildings—Shelter Cove introduced the innovative concept of "dockominiums," offering boat slips for sale with condo-like perks. Dedicated boat slips are available to purchase or rent still today.

Fast forward to August1983, and the iconic Neptune Statue made its grand debut, overlooking the marina as a symbol of Shelter Cove's maritime spirit. An official dedication was made with guests including the Mayor, John W. Davis and W.M. Self (owners of Greenwood, Palmetto Dunes’ managing company), and Robert Onorato, president of Palmetto Dunes

Shelter Cove Walkway
Shelter Cove Rendering

But Shelter Cove wasn't done yet. A four-story marvel, complete with a restaurant and a lighthouse, added to the allure. Recognized for its design excellence, it became a beacon of Shelter Cove's vision.


By 1985, Shelter Cove was in full swing, with the Neptune Statue reigning supreme. Kids frolicked around it during the Shelter Cove Island Fair, setting the stage for future festivities like HarbourFest, which is entering it's 35th year of fireworks, live music, and more have solidified Shelter Cove as the ultimate destination for fun-seekers.


From fishing tournaments to festivals, Shelter Cove has seen it all. For 35 years, it's been the place to be—a dynamic blend of entertainment and activity that's captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike.


So, what's your favorite Shelter Cove memory? Share your stories and photos with us because here's to 35 years of making waves and memories at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina! 

A Symbol of Shelter Cove

Neptune Statue

Thirty years ago, sculptor Wayne Edwards had a wild idea: a larger-than-life statue of Neptune, God of the Sea, whose trident would serve as a sundial. Edwards then pitched his idea, with a 4-foot clay model to Greenwood Development Co, and the rest is history. They had the perfect location for it, 27 feet of space overlooking the stunning marina at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. Neptune could look out over his realm and the beautiful entry to the marina, and there was no worry of surrounding buildings disrupting the sundial with shadows.

It was cast in bronze at Johnson’s Atelier, a foundry in Princeton, New Jersey, and the 3,000-pound statue was then shipped to Hilton Head Island by truck. On August 11, 1983, Neptune officially took his place as king of the marina.


But here's where it gets interesting, Edwards, a sculptor, not an engineer, needed a little celestial help to make sure Neptune's trident told time accurately. So, he enlisted Frank Yerkes and Richard Hamilton, engineers from Sea Island Engineering, now known as Sea Island Land Survey LLC. Together, they stared at the stars for four consecutive nights, aligning constellations to ensure Neptune faced Due South. Talk about dedication!​

Edwards with clay Neptune Statue

Fast forward to today, and Neptune isn't just a statue—he's a symbol. For 35 years, he's presided over Shelter Cove, welcoming locals and tourists alike to gather for Music & Taste, HarbourFest, and Fourth of July shindigs.“It was as if I was meant to design what I did for that location,” Edwards mused. And he's right. Neptune isn't just a sculpture; he's a testament to collaboration, creativity, and a dash of divine intervention. It is a symbol that compliments the marina and celebrates hard work, honor, and tradition.​


So, next time you're in Hilton Head, swing by Palmetto Dunes and pay Neptune a visit. Snap a pic, soak in the atmosphere, and take home a piece of Hilton Head magic. Trust me, it's worth it.

bottom of page