Your Kids Can Dress Up Like Pirates, Shoot Water Canons, and Find Treasure on This Pirate Cruise in Hilton Head, SC

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Ever been on a pirate boat? Pirates of Hilton Head will have your kids practicing their pirate lingo for the entire vacation. Kids get to dress up as pirates and fight off the bad guy in search of treasure during one of the most entertaining cruises on Hilton Head Island. We sent contributor Kristina to check it out with her family. Your kids will be saying “aye-aye captain” in no time on the Pirates of Hilton Head cruise! 

Pirate of Hilton Head boat excursion in Hilton Head Island, SC

Media tickets were given for this pirate cruise review but the opinions henceforth are those of the writer alone.

I love surprises and perhaps even more so, I love surprising my kids. Thanks to our readers, who recommended doing the Pirates of Hilton Head cruise on the island, I got to not only surprise my kids but revel in the enjoyment of their own wonder during the cruise. I quickly figured out why the Pirates of Hilton Head are one of the island’s most popular attractions – they are so entertaining, fun, and engaging. It’s hard not to have a good time on the pirate boat!

Find a place to stay in Hilton Head. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Pirates at Hilton Head

What to Expect at Pirates of Hilton Head

The Black Dagger pirate boat is custom built and outfitted to seat lots of little pirate kids and their parents and of course, have the space for the pirates to man the water cannons. Everyone who works for the Pirates of Hilton Head rarely breaks their character, making the experience all the more fun for everyone. I am positive my kids thought that not only were they on a real pirate boat but that they were authentic pirates after the cruise was over. 

Pirates of Hilton Head was created in 2010 and has been going strong ever since. Cruises run multiple times a day from March to the end of October and the boat is docked at the picturesque lighthouse on Sea Pines in Hilton Head, right at the very southern tip of South Carolina. The boat goes out in the fairly calm waters of the Calibogue Sound and if you’re lucky- and we were – you’ll get to see dolphins!

Become a pirate at Pirates of Hilton Head.

Becoming A Pirate

The mates start the fun even before boarding the Black Dagger with face painting, pirate costumes, and a unique pirate name. One of my favorites was a little girl whose name was Ruby so she was given the pirate name of Reckless Ruby. I overheard her parents say that was accurate.

The kids are then taught pirate lingo like “ahoy!” and “aye-aye, Captain” before singing a pirate song on the way to the boat. Seriously, this was a blast already. Then it is time to board the Black Dagger and set sail!

Pretending to be a pirate aboard the Black Dagger is pretty cool. It has a big mast and stern and of course, a pirate crew and a pirate captain. Part of the crew mates entertains the kids the whole time, telling them to look out over the stern to find Stinky Pete, who has the keys to the sunken treasure they are searching for. The kids do as they are told (can I have these mates in my house?). 

A storyline of a stolen map and treasure just waiting to be discovered is woven throughout the cruise. It’s not just going out on a boat and using water canons. The company does a great job of engaging guests – both kids and adults – in the story of pirates on the high seas in search of gold.

Kids really enjoy when you man the water cannons to defeat Stinky Pete. Every kid then gets a handful of treasure when they vanquish Stinky Pete. It is so entertaining and enjoyable. The ocean breeze, the salty air, and the endless smiles of the kids make this cruise a must-do in Hilton Head. 

“We’ve had families that will stop on their way home from a trip elsewhere just to do the pirate cruise,” said Patrick Coughlin, owner of Pirates of Hilton Head. “It’s what their kids remember from past trips and just love doing again together.”

Vanquishing Stinky Pete on the Pirates of Hilton Head cruise

Know Before You Go

Be sure to get there about 20 minutes early since that’s when the kids will get their face paint and pirate name. And go to the bathroom before getting on the boat since there are no restrooms on the Black Dagger. 

Also, water and sunblock are a must. It’s very hot and while there is shade on the boat, the kids will be in the full sun the whole time. They don’t get wet so it’s even more important to hydrate. The entire experience lasts about 90 minutes. 

The recommended ages are 2-10 years old. I saw kids on our cruise in that age range and they all loved it. It was adorable watching the smaller kids with their foam swords and the bigger kids had a blast defeating Stinky Pete. Everyone loved the water canons!

The Black Dagger is docked at the famous lighthouse in Harbor Town on Hilton Head so if you have time, take a look around, grab some ice cream, go shopping, or let the kids play at the playground nearby. 

Anyone is welcome aboard the boat. Pirates of Hilton Head welcomes those with autism and special needs. They’ve even had a boat full of deaf children during one cruise. The owner used to work in the medical equipment business so has special chairs and other things that may be needed for kids who are in need of a little extra help.

The Black Sparrow

While we went on the Black Dagger out of Harbor Town, Pirates of Hilton Head also runs the same cruise on the Black Sparrow, which is out of the Palmetto Bay Marina on Hilton Head. This is a great option because you don’t have to pay the daily pass fee to get into Sea Pines and deal with the hassle of parking at the harbor. 

I did a stand-up board tour where the Black Sparrow is docked and watched a pirate cruise go out on the boat so I got a sneak peek of what my family would be doing later that day. It also goes out in calm waters and maybe you’ll get to see dolphins as well!

The storyline is exactly the same, except the bad guy pirate is Smelly Sam – still hilarious to watch him get nailed by the water guns.

Get Yer Tickets for Pirates of Hilton Head

It’s a good idea to plan ahead when thinking of grabbing tickets for the Pirate of Hilton Head cruise since they do tend to book up quickly. Cruises run several times a day during the week in the high season of summer and on a lighter schedule during the weekends and into the fall.  

Tickets are $39/person and infants 11 months or younger are $10. There is also a $9 gate fee to enter Sea Pines where the harbor is for the pirate cruise. Gift cards are also available, which I personally think make an awesome experience gift if you’re thinking of the holiday season already and need some ideas to give to the grandparents, or for yourself as parents, knowing you’ll be heading to the beach next summer. 

Pirates of Hilton Head is centered around creating lasting memories for your family. Kids will certainly remember the fun they had on this cruise and as parents, we get to hold onto the cute photos and remember our kids enjoying the vast imagination of their youth. 

Pirates of Hilton Head
149 Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head, SC

Have you been on a pirate cruise?

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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4 years ago

My kids and husband went on this cruise on our vacation to Hilton Head based on your recommendation. Thanks for the suggestion, the kids loved it!