On Hilton Head Island alone, there were more than 20 working plantations and 200+ in surrounding areas. Cotton and rice were highly valuable crops grown in the Sea Islands, making Hilton Head Island one of the richest districts in the state. Due to the land’s low elevation, the threat of malaria, and hot summers, the wealthy landowners spent little time on the Island, opting to relocate to their beautiful townhouses in less tropical environments on the mainland.