Hunting Island State Park is located 16 miles east of the historic town of Beaufort and is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in South Carolina.
Hunting Island got its name when the island was once used by the locals for hunting deer, waterfowl and raccoon. Hunting Island, as well as Beaufort, were a popular layover spot for sailors and pirates, including Blackbeard and his crew.
After 10 long months, the public can enjoy the campground at Hunting Island State Park once again.
Earlier this month, the South Caroling Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism announced via its Facebook page that the campground is ready for visitors.
“We are happy to announce, that the Hunting Island State Park campground will reopen this Friday, August 4th,” the post said.
Since the June 2 reopening of most of Hunting Island, folks had been getting back to the park they love, but there was one thing missing.
Damage from Hurricane Matthew in October, 2016, closed the beach and park for eight months and the campground even longer.
“Most of the work needed to reopen the campground was underground utility work and that was hampered by weather and all of the rain we’ve been getting,” said Dawn Dawson-House, state park spokesperson.
The campground used to have 200 campsites, but 88 were lost when Hurricane Matthew hit the Lowcountry this past October. Of those remaining, 10 have no services, and 92 will have both water and electricity.
The ocean side of the campground, which was hit hardest, has a completely new look: a pristine beach with a wide expanse of sand.
Friends of Hunting Island canceled this summer’s annual Sand Sculpting Contest at North Beach.
“First, there is limited parking and no real need to get more people out and possibly have to turn people away,” said Carol Corbin, Friends of Hunting Island spokesperson.
“The other is that we had switched the date of it to early June when it would be cooler, and it was too close to the opening to hold it. We’ll bring that back next spring.”
The following areas of Hunting Island have also reopened to the public: South Beach, North Beach, the lighthouse, gift shop, lagoon, most park trails, visitor center, nature center, and a portion of the pier.
The park asks that visitors not venture into restricted or closed areas for their own safety.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hunting Island Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in South Carolina that is open to the public. From the top of one of the most distinctive lighthouses in South Carolina, guests can stand 132 feet above the ground to take in the breathtaking, panoramic view of the Atlantic Coast and surrounding maritime forest.
The lighthouse tower is open for climbing; hours vary seasonally. For an admission of $2, visitors can climb the 167 step spiral staircase and walk around the observation deck for a lofty view of the barrier island and surrounding seascape.
The lighthouse was closed for repairs in May 2003 when cracks were discovered in several of its cast-iron steps. In a renovation that spanned more than 18 months, construction crews not only repaired the cracks, but installed steel braces beneath them for reinforcement. Left unpainted, the silver-gray braces stand out in sharp contrast to the black cast-iron stairs. The contrast helps distinguish between the original structure and modern improvements, which protect the lighthouse’s historic integrity.
To begin and end your day, be sure to catch the splendor of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and the sunset over the salt marsh.
Although plenty of activities can keep you occupied, the true beauty of Hunting Island is its atmosphere—a blend of sights and sounds that almost forces you to relax, to escape the rush of today’s life, to forget that the interstate is less than 30 minutes away.
The park is open year-round, and in the off season its solitude and charm are even more pronounced.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.