After a couple of weekends spent discovering the historical side of our area, we decided it was time for another beach day. We know that there are several beaches with less than an hour’s drive, so I’m not exactly sure what prompted us to pick one that was 2 hours away – but at the end of the day, we were not disappointed!
I think part of the reason we chose Hunting Island was because we have a state park pass, so why not? Also, we were thinking ahead – we have a lot of time on our hands now, but in a month getting out of town won’t be this easy, so we thought we should save the closer beaches for a time when we need a short and easy adventure. We were also anxious to cover more roads and get into more counties because we’re total dorks. It was also a spur of the moment decision – in general, we haven’t been doing much long-term planning, we just kinda pick out something on our bucket list and go for it. And so, we threw together what we needed – the metal detector, camera, bags for Charlie, cookies, and cheerios – and took off.
The drive was long, but interesting to us because we hadn’t gone this way before. We took highway 17 to highway 21, and followed that all the way to the end. We enjoyed driving through the small town of Beaufort and added that to our list of places to visit. Finally, we were on the final stretch to the beach. We entered like a thick wooded area, one I can only think to call a “palm forest.” Or maybe a “palm jungle”? It was so cool. Curtis went to the visitor’s center to get our state park stamps and find out the laws on metal detecting while Charlotte and I waited in the car with the windows open. She gave her sweetest puppy eyes to some hikers just coming off a trail and won them all over. We had to get out to let them pet her, but then she showed her ulterior motives in this were not to receive belly rubs, but to escape from being trapped in the Jeep. Curtis came back – elated that he could detect the beach – and we set off to start exploring the beach.
First off, I must confess that when we go to beaches, we are not the swim-in-the-ocean type. We aren’t scared of it or anything, we just don’t. Maybe when it’s actually hot it will be a different story, but in all our visits to the Atlantic or Pacific, we’ve never gone to the beach to go swimming. We’re more just waders, beach walkers, sand castle builders, or metal detectors (on Curtis’ part!) However, we still spent 5 AWESOME hours at this beach, and the verdict was that we would definitely come back. Charlotte had no qualms with getting in the water this time (but wasn’t a fan of the sea foam that surrounded her) and we found lots of beautiful shells – all of which were vacant! Curtis, on the other hand, came up with $1.75, which is like, a little over a gallon of gas. No big deal. 😉
The beach itself just looks so cool – it’s an eroding beach, and has suffered eroding since 1980. This means that there’s a lot of driftwood – standing or knocked-over big trees to wander through (or climb on, if you’re a child at heart 😉 ) But that isn’t the only thing that makes this area cool – it is also rich in history. There is a lighthouse on the beach that was built in 1875, and was relocated to the spot where it stands now to save it from the erosion. It isn’t the first lighthouse to stand on this island though – the first was built in 1850, but the Confederates destroyed it during the Civil War. Hunting Island State Park was developed in the 1930s by the CCC. Then, in 1993, Hunting Island was used in most of the Vietnam scenes in the movie Forrest Gump! Today, it’s one of the most popular State Parks and beaches in South Carolina.
The lighthouse is recognized as a National Historical Landmark, and is the only lighthouse in SC that allows visitors to climb to the top. It costs $2 per person, and is around 115 feet above the ground. I took the chance to climb the 167 steps to the top to take in the view. (Curtis stayed at the bottom with Charlotte – next time I’m making him climb!) It was fun to see the beach and the forest from a higher perspective. It’s no mountain, but climbing up the steps is a good enough workout! On each of the landings, they have informational boards sharing about the history of the area and lighthouse and the building of the lighthouse. It was a good excuse to stop and catch my breath. 😉
When all our cookies were gone and low tide turned to high tide, we packed up our things and our pup and began our drive home, grabbing a few letterboxes first. It was a great day and we would love to go back another day. The state park also offers a space for RV’ing AND primitive camping grounds which we would LOVE to take advantage of!
To see more pictures of this adventure, visit savingtimeinabottleimages.tumblr.com.