Coastal Explorations

Message From The Director

Without question one of nature’s most spectacular sites is the place where land meets the ocean. It’s unmistakable - pounding waves with the sounds of thunder where these two great natural forces combine. The wave disappears into the sand amidst the foam and churning of the very water that created it. As the water seems to return from where it came, you look beyond the beach and witness first hand the vastness of the mighty Atlantic as it fills the horizon.

Too often we take this experience and site for granted. It’s worth the trip. Even if you’ve done it a hundred times, it’s never the same. This year experience it naturally - walk on the beach, experience a program that gets you wet, go to the marsh, even get some pluff mud between your toes! Smell the smells, hear the sounds and take another look at the coast of South Carolina.

There’s a new boardwalk at Myrtle Beach that takes you through a meadow near the dunes where a host of exciting things are always taking place. Peak over the dunes and there it is … The Atlantic Ocean. Use a new crossover and get your feet wet, then walk to the end of the pier and look back. The green oasis you’ll see is Myrtle Beach State Park. It will move you.

Only 17 miles down the road is Huntington Beach, with its castle in the sand, Atalaya. Walk along four miles of pristine beach, see dunes and one of the most popular birding spots on the entire East Coast. Walk the causeway and you're sure to see a gator sunning on a nearby island.

Go farther south and there’s Edisto Beach, one of the best shelling beaches anywhere. Walk the extensive trail system that takes you to so many points of interest. Go back in time to see an ancient Native American Shell Midden, walk to a historical marker that was used to measure the coast line, and enjoy the marsh with all its sights and sounds. A trip to the interpretive center is a must.

From Edisto Beach way in the distance you can spot it - ask a Park Ranger to point to it - a subtropical paradise, Hunting Island! A ride through Hunting Island and you immediately know you are in a different place! This can’t be South Carolina. On Hunting Island the flora and fauna of maritime forests are distinctive, and particularly well adapted to survive the elevated salt content, limited availability of fresh water, periodic seawater flooding, and all the challenges associated with oceanic storms. You’ll want to get a better look for sure.

Want a great beach adventure? All it takes is a few steps to experience it -- 167 steps to be exact. During your visit to Hunting Island, climb the steps that lead to the top of the historic lighthouse and be prepared for your breath to be taken away. Not from the climb, but from the view.

The panoramic view from the top of the lighthouse is a unique perspective of the entire island, the marsh, the maritime forest and a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean. After 167 steps, your reward is evident, but you have also just experienced a one-of-a-kind memory as Hunting Island’s lighthouse is the only historic lighthouse in South Carolina open to the public. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and you are at the top! You’re earned the view!

I hope you get the opportunity to have one of these great coastal adventures at our SC State Parks. Plan a visit today because during our 75th anniversary celebration there has never been a better time to …. Come out and play.

See you in the parks!