Port Royal is a town in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Largely because of annexation of surrounding areas (including Parris Island). As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Port Royal is included within the Beaufort Urban Cluster and the larger Hilton Head IslandBeaufort Micropolitan Statistical Area. Frenchman Jean Ribault explored the Port Royal Sound waterways and harbours in 1562, and founded the short-lived settlement of Charlesfort there. The area later became the site of a Spanish and still later Scottish colony during the 17th century. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was first read at Christmas under the Proclamation tree in Port Royal. Port Royal hosts the Soft Shell Crab Festival every year in late April during the short soft shell crab season.