Edisto Beach State Park perfectly captures the unspoiled natural beauty of the area. There’s no roughing it here; it’s too perfect for that.
Located on Edisto Island, Edisto Beach State Park is one of four oceanfront parks in South Carolina. Edisto Island lies about an hour south of bustling Charleston as the pelican flies.
But Edisto, part of a chain of more than 100 tidal and barrier islands along the Atlantic coast between the mouths of the Santee River in South Carolina and St. Johns River in Florida, is a world apart.
It’s hard to beat the Carolinas’ pristine coastlines and Edisto Beach State Park is a picture-perfect example. Its 1.25-mile public beach is ideal for swimmers and beachcombers—and also a nesting site for loggerhead turtles.
The state park is situated neatly between a salt marsh and the beach making it possible to hear the waves lapping at the shore regardless of whether you’re staying in an RV, tent, or cabin. Located in the town of Edisto Beach, it’s just a short walk or bike ride from the grocery store, gas station, restaurants, and shops.
The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a Depression-era program designed to create jobs for the unemployed youth. Several structures erected by the CCC remain. Edisto Beach is one of 16 state parks in South Carolina built by the corps.
The park has an impressive array of camping sites in oceanfront and maritime forest habitats and most can accommodate RVs, some up to 40 feet. There are 64 oceanside sites and 33 sites along the salt marsh. Many sites offer easy access to sea, sand, and sun. There is also a restroom and showering facility on the premises.
There are seven cabins located in the park. Five of the cabins are one-bedroom units while the other two are three-bedroom units. All of the cabins are completely furnished and feature heating and air conditioning, bath and bed linens, basic cooking and eating utensils, a microwave, coffee maker, and television. Each cabin also has a screened-in porch so visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of Edisto Beach.
The park’s interpretive and historical programs focus on coastal ecology and the Native American presence in the region. Part of an area called the ACE Basin Natural Estuarine Reserve, Edisto Island preserves fragile coastline resources.
Nature and history are both important components of the park and are impressively highlighted in the park’s Environmental Learning Center—a unique, 11,000-square-foot, LEED-certified structure that showcases artifacts and exhibits that span from the last ice age to today. Many exhibits are hands-on and interactive, including a “touch tank.”
As for history, evidence of Native Americans dating back more than 4,000 years is here: The park’s Spanish Mount Trail will lead you past a midden, or mound, of oyster shells—left by early diners there. Another historical artifact is the Bache Monument, where you’ll see evidence of survey markers used in the 1840s to accurately measure the East Coast.
This water-oriented park has both ocean and tidal/estuary components. Fishing, shrimping, and crabbing are very popular (South Carolina licenses are required). If you have a kayak or other boat, a ramp is available within the park. Be mindful of the tides, as they can strand you in mud if you’re not careful.
Diverse habitats within the park range from marsh—with grasses that look like waves in the breeze—to woodland to ocean. This means that you’ll find a wide array of animal life, including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. In marshy areas, keep your eyes peeled for alligators.
Edisto Beach’s trail system includes the state’s longest handicapped-friendly trail. The trails are easy, and range from about a half mile to just over 1.5 miles, with opportunities to add on by connecting to other trails.
One you should definitely try is the Forest Loop Trail. It’s just a half mile or so but takes you through some gorgeous maritime forest, canopied with large live oaks with draping Spanish moss, giving it an enchanted look in places.
Edisto Beach State Park is a family-friendly place offering a wide range of outdoor activities. Day admission to the park is $5 for adults, $3.25 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6-15, and free for children 5 and under.
We can never have enough of nature.
—Henry David Thoreau