Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, one of the largest Sea Islands along the southeast Atlantic coast of the United States. It is one of only a handful of U.S. towns that has had its entire downtown designated an historic district by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Filled with mansions built by the wealthy plantation owners before the Civil War, Beaufort was one of the only Southern towns chosen to be occupied by Union troops, rather than destroyed. More than 50 historic structures have been identified in Beaufort, including many lovely private homes that have been beautifully restored and are now available to view via professionally-guided walking, bus, or horse-drawn carriage tours. Special spring and fall events offer locals and visitors the opportunity to tour several private homes and gardens.
HUNTING ISLAND STATE PARK
Hunting Island is South Carolina’s single most popular state park, attracting more than a million human visitors a year.
Also attracted to the semi-tropical barrier island is an array of wildlife, ranging from loggerhead sea turtles to painted buntings, barracudas to sea horses, alligators, pelicans, dolphins and deer, raccoons, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and even the rare coral snake.
What they all enjoy is five miles of beach, thousands of acres of marsh, tidal creeks and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet. Amenities include a fishing pier and some of the state’s most desirable campsites.
Adding to the natural history of the big park is a piece of man-made history: South Carolina’s only publicly accessible historic lighthouse. Dating from the 1870s, the Hunting Island Lighthouse shoots 170 feet into the air, giving those who scale its heights a breathtaking view of the sweeping Lowcountry marshland and the Atlantic Ocean.
• Designation: Hunting Island State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal Program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The program was designed to provide employment during the Great Depression while addressing national needs in conservation and recreation.The CCC was instrumental in the development of many of South Carolina’s state parks. A number of buildings built by the CCC in the 1930’s are still in use at this park.The park is listed on the National Register.
• Counties: Beaufort
• Acreage: 5000
• When & How PRT Acquired: Donated in 1938 from Beaufort County
• Pets: Pets are not allowed in the cabins or the cabin areas. Pets are allowed in most other outdoor areas provided they are kept under physical restraint or on a leash not longer than six feet.
• Tour and Programs Information:
Barrier Island educational programs and tours of the historic lighthouse complex are held March through November. There is a $2/person charge to climb the lighthouse and you must be at least 44″ tall to do so. For additional program information contact the nature center at 843-838-7437.
• Significant Natural Features: Hunting Island is always changing. Migrating creatures in air and sea come and go with the seasons, and the natural forces of erosion constantly re-shape the island.In addition to some 3,000 acres of salt marsh and more than four miles of beach, a large lagoon, created by sand dredging in 1968, has become a natural wonderland and home to such unexpected species as seahorses and barracuda.The park’s upland areas contain one of the state’s best examples of semi-tropical maritime forest, ancient sand dunes now dominated by such vegetation as slash pines, cabbage palmetto (the state tree) and live oak.
• Animal visitors include loggerhead turtles, which nest on the island in the summer months. On dry land and in and around freshwater ponds can be found deer and alligators, raccoons and even eastern diamondback rattlesnakes.
• Hundreds of species of birds also are resident on or visit Hunting Island, including painted buntings, tanagers and orioles, along with pelicans, oystercatchers, skimmers and terns, herons, egrets and wood storks.
• Pay Phone on Site: Yes
• Admissions: $5/adult; $3.25 SC seniors; $3/ child age 6-15; Free for children 5 and younger.
• Office Hours: M-Fri 9am-5pm Sat&Sun 11am-5pm
• Days and Hours of Operation: M-Su 6am-6pm (extended to 9pm during Daylight Savings Time)
• Driving Directions:
• From I-95: Take Hwy 21 E. toward Beaufort. Drive 42 mi. Hwy 21 ends at the park.
• Beach Location: Yes
• Miles to Nearest Hospital: 17
• Miles to Nearest Town: 17
• Miles to Nearest Grocery Store: 14
• Charleston, SC: 85
• Columbia, SC: 150
• Florence, SC: 168
• Greenville, SC: 236
• Charlotte, NC: 236
• Raleigh, NC: 317
• Atlanta, GA: 282
• Augusta, GA: 135
• Savannah, GA: 56
MONTHLY AVERAGE • AIR & • OCEAN TEMPERATURES:
January • Air 59 • Ocean 52
February • Air 61 • Ocean 54
March • Air 67 • Ocean 59
April • Air 76 • Ocean 67
May • Air 82 • Ocean 75
June • Air 86 • Ocean 82
July • Air 89 • Ocean 84
August • Air 89 • Ocean 84
September • Air 84 • Ocean 80
October • Air 77 • Ocean 73
November • Air 69 • Ocean 63
December • Air 61 • Ocean 54
If you have any connection to environmental issues in the Lowcountry, you have likely heard that Hilton Head and Beaufort County are considering ordinances that would ban single-use plastic bags. What you may not have heard about is a bill, pushed by the plastic industry, that would prevent local governments from passing ordinances that regulate […]
This buoy is special. Why, you ask? Because this buoy has a history and a lot of miles on it. Once upon a time, it was afloat in Port Royal Sound and directed ships in the area. Then in 1970, a large strorm cut it loose. One year later, Port Royal’s Traveling Red Buoy showed […]
Did you know? Coral is, in fact, an animal that has evolved to incorporate a garden in its own tissue. Coral doesn’t eat the plant– it simply protects it, feeds it and benefits from the products of photosynthesis necessary for its survival. Approximately 200 million years of symbiosis have produced a relationship so cohesive, the plant and […]
The sea islands that extend along the Eastern coast of South Carolina and Georgia have a history and a style all their own. From the sandy beaches of Edisto Island, SC to the isolated beauty of Cumberland Island, GA, the South Atlantic coast boasts a variety of islands that appeal to the dreamer in each […]
Here you will find some frequently asked questions about the State of South Carolina. • How Did South Carolina Get Its Name? King Charles I of England granted the land on which South Carolina is located to Sir Robert Heath in 1629. The region was named Carolus, a word derived from the Latin form of […]
With five miles of pristine beach, an historic lighthouse, a nature center, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet, fishing pier, trails through acres of marsh and maritime forests and oceanfront camping, Hunting Island State Park attracts more than a million visitors each year. South Carolina’s most popular state park was forever changed after Hurricane Matthew hit […]
The historic Hunting Island lighthouse was originally constructed in 1859 and is the only lighthouse in the state of South Carolina that is open to the public. From the top platform, for those who are adventurous enough to climb the 167 step spiral staircase, one truly can get a birds eye view of the Atlantic […]