Montana has many things. Lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, boating, skiing, and opportunities for just about every recreational activity you can think of. But it doesn’t have oceans. I didn’t grow up going to the beach. In fact, I never set foot on a beach until I was 10 and we went to Oregon for a few days.
So here I was, spending my birthday on the beach for the first time ever – at the age of 27. And I learned something on the beaches of South Carolina: oceans can be warm!
No, seriously. This was new for me.
Up to this point, my ocean experiences had all been in the northern US and Canada where the water is cold and not ideal for swimming. Needless to say, when we donned our swimsuits and headed to the beach at Hunting Island State Park, we didn’t plan to actually go swimming.
An hour later, we finally tore ourselves out of the warm, salty water.
While in the area, we also visited the historic town of Beaufort (pronounced BYOO-fert, not to be confused with the town of the same spelling in North Carolina that’s pronounced BOE-fert). But we didn’t drive there in a car. We rode there on a boat! It was a unique experience.
My aunt and uncle have a small boat, and most of the islands in the Beaufort area are connected by the Intracoastal Waterway, allowing for travel between them without having to venture into open ocean. So they took us for an extended tour of the area, pointing out various islands and explaining some of the relevant history of the area. They also taught us the basics of boating and my uncle even let Pat drive the boat for a few minutes, which I’m pretty sure was the highlight of the trip for him.
For me, the highlight was being so close to dolphins that we could hear them breathe when they surfaced. It was really cool! I was so entranced that I didn’t even take any photos.
(Also, photographing jumping dolphins is pretty far above my skill level.)
Anyway, after our extended tour of the Intracoastal Waterway, we pulled into the town marina, tied up the boat, and headed into Beaufort for the afternoon. We poked our heads into a few shops, ate a tasty lunch at Lowcountry Produce & Market, and enjoyed the waterfront before hopping back onto the boat and making our way back to Lady’s Island.
All in all, a nice tour of this beautiful and historic area of the South Carolina coast!
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: Lady’s Island and Hunting Island are both in Beaufort County, South Carolina, two of many islands that lie within the Intracoastal Waterway
- Fees and passes: entry to Hunting Island State Park is $5 per person
- Camping: we didn’t spend the night at Hunting Island State Park but there are 100 sites… this is the most popular park in the state so reservations are highly recommended
- Other: Beware of rip tides. Also, alligators. We didn’t see any, but apparently they hang out in any type of standing or freshwater so it’s best to just avoid these features