Beaufort Beach Information

 The Lowcountry is full of subtle surprises this season.

Ah, fall! This favorite season conjures up images of vibrantly colored leaves. The nip in the air makes us yearn for hot spiced cider and s’mores and being bundled up around a toasty fire. We pull out our jackets, sweaters, hats, mittens and boots to prepare for Mother Nature going full Frosty on us.

That is, unless you live in the Lowcountry.

In the Lowcountry, fall is a season that is so subtle, some would swear it doesn’t exist. With November temperatures hovering around 70 degrees and no vivid fall colors to herald in the seasonal change, it feels downright weird to see Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations begin to pop up around town. However, if you know what to look for, late autumn in the Lowcountry is a fascinating time of year that features a host of natural treasures and beckons you outside.

With the slight drop in temperatures and significant drop in humidity, late fall offers the perfect weather for hiking and biking and is the perfect time to discover the subtle changes of the season on foot or by bike.

While hitting the trails, be sure and look to the trees. While our semi-deciduous live oaks and evergreens may not offer fiery autumnal foliage, they are home to multitudes of birds that enjoy spending the colder months here as much as our human snowbirds. American Goldfinches, Baltimore Orioles, Belted Kingfishers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are just a handful of the winged jewels taking to our trees in the late fall and winter.

The noble Bald Eagles also become more abundant as they return from summering up north to reconnect with their mates and start restoring their enormous nests. If you have ever spotted what you suspect might be an eagle’s nest, keep a watchful eye, as eagles return to the same nest year after year to expand their feathered family.

If you really want to witness more dramatic seasonal changes, grab a kayak or a standup paddleboard and get out into the tidal salt marshes. Here you will see our Spartina alternaflora, locally referred to as cordgrass, morphing from its vivid summer green to straw gold, as it goes to seed and begins to die back. Tailing Redfish abound and you can watch young Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks feeding in the grass.

This is also the only time of year when you can spot Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads, ducks that are delightfully unique in their plumage. Other water birds — like Willets, Piping Plovers and American Oyster Catchers — are more abundant and easier to spot in the coming months.

So while we may still be wearing flip-flops and tank tops in November here in the Lowcountry, signs of fall and the coming winter are all around us. Visit outsidehiltonhead.com to discover how Outside Hilton Head and Outside Palmetto Bluff can help facilitate all your adventuring needs to get you out exploring autumn.

For more than 30 years, Outside Hilton Head has provided personalized adventures for all ages, from kayak, fishing, nature and dolphin tours to kids’ camps, history excursions, family outings and standup paddleboarding. To book an outing with Outside Hilton Head, call (843) 686-6996 or outsidehiltonhead.com.

 

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.

GENERAL:

• 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

HOURS:

• 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)

LOCATION:

• 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

MILES TO:

• 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

 
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