Hunting Island State Park offers a raw, natural environment to explore with many attractions to discover. It is far from commercialized, unlike Myrtle Beach and other mainstream South Carolina beaches, affording a close look at the state's natural backdrop. More than a million annual visitors traverse the beaches on Hunting Island looking for treasures, native wildlife, and dense forests. The Atlantic Ocean skirts Hunting Island State Park where a campground, cabin rentals, and other convenient facilities, such as an RV park, are available, all with favorable beach access.
There are many things to do on Hunting Island affording families a diverse and unique setting for South Carolina vacations. Hunting Island Lighthouse is one of the main island attractions. It sits along the beach granting great ocean views. Originally built in 1859, the lighthouse has a rich history behind it and is the only one of its kind in the state open to visitors. Almost 200 stairs open an ascending route for a sweeping view of the Atlantic, the area marshes, and the park. Operational up until 1933, Hunting Island Lighthouse was purposed to warn ships too close to shore of potential dangers such as sandbars, perilous currents, and wrecks.
One of the most favored activities is fishing off the beaches on Hunting Island, the 1,200-foot fishing pier and the island's lagoon. A visit to the pier might also bring you to the Nature Center, full of educational exhibits highlighting local marine life and wildlife. Several birds inhabit the island including herons, egrets, bald eagles, osprey, and pelicans. Often they can be seen dining along the shores of Hunting Island State Park, making it an ideal place for bird watchers. Loggerhead turtles, crabs, jellyfish, and even alligators are types of native wildlife to look out for.
In the summer, Hunting Island State Park employs a naturalist available to guide visitors through the lush, wild, island settings. Tours include a walk through the marshy ecosystems where tidal flats, salt marshes, and wildlife are discussed in more detail. The Marshwalk careens along a boardwalk located on the west side of the park, which unfolds along the flourishing tidal flats toward a small hillock, extending a great opportunity for wildlife viewing and the natural surroundings along the beaches of Hunting Island and thickets of forest. Fortunate visitors may even get a glimpse of dolphins swimming in the tidal creek where they hunt for mullet throughout the shallows. Though it's a rare sight, it's definitely a rush.
Anyone heading to out to enjoy the beaches, climb the Hunting Island Lighthouse and camp on the island can reach it by driving Highway 21 from Beaufort. Exploring the beaches on Hunting Island along with water-based activities is a great way to spend a day, or even a week! Beautiful Edisto Island is to the northeast and Hilton Head Island lies to the southwest. Beaufort hotels can also be a convenient base for exploring South Carolina's archipelago. Travel time equates to less than a half hour to the shoreline. Further north up the coast there is plenty more to see including Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island, and popular Folly Beach.