Hunting Island State Park is a 5,000 acre park with three miles of natural beach situated 16 miles east of Beaufort in South Carolina. The park is open from 6am to 6pm although closing is extended during daylight saving time to 9pm. Entrance for adults is $4, senior citizens $2.50, children 6-15 $1.50 and five years old and under can get in for free.
The sandy beach beside the warm Atlantic Ocean attracts over one million visitors each year. The ocean is overlooked by the historic lighthouse, which is the only one open to the public in the state and affords them magnificent views from the top platform. There is a nature center at the entrance to the fishing pier, which features many interesting exhibits of local wildlife, marine life and live reptiles, and also supplies basic fishing equipment.
Fishing is very popular from the fishing pier, which stretches out 1120 feet, and is a good place to catch drum, bass, spots, trout, shark, whiting and croaker. Lagoon and surf fishing are very popular here too for locals and visitors. This is a good area for finding crabs and collecting shells, but it is recommended not to collect the sea fans, urchins and sponges due to the smell.
The lagoon is a nice tranquil area for people keen on the water and who like to watch nature. This like many parts of the island is a good place for photography and is home to hundreds of birds and wildlife. Visitors can relax on the water floating around on a rubber raft or paddle a kayak across the water.
Many people are attracted to the island for the wonderful views, and photographers are seen often at sunrise and sunset looking to capture great images. The marsh boardwalk is one of the best places to take photographs as it is a great viewing point, but there are also guided tours given from here in the summer months. Quite apart from the wonderful views there are many varieties of animals, birds and fish to be seen here.
Alligators are one of the features of the park as they laze around in the tidal ponds, shallow waters and the lagoon. The island is a good place for bird watchers with particular highlights the Bald Eagle, Osprey, Egrets, Herons and Pelicans. The beach is a nesting ground for Loggerhead Turtles, which is an impressive sight in mid-May, but there is plenty of other marine life to be observed too including Crabs, Jellyfish and sometimes Stingray.
There are 11 cabins with 2 to 3 bedrooms available for hire all year round at the south end of the island and can accommodate 6 to 10 people but pets are not permitted in or on the cabin grounds. Many facilities are included in the cabins such as basic cooking and eating utensils, TV and microwave. At the north end of the island there are sites for RVs and tents with restroom facilities, hot showers, picnic areas and a convenience store.