Our impromptu weekend camping trip to Hunting Island State Park

We live in vacationland (aka Beaufort County, SC)  We are within 1 hour (or less travel time) to Hunting Island, Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, and Savannah Ga.  It takes us under 3 hours to get to Charleston, SC or Jacksonville, Fl.  We are blessed.

This allows us many last minute outings or camping trips.  The “Cancelation list” is our friend!  Since more and more people are foregoing hotels for campers (all classes) it starts to become very important to plan months in advance for camping trips.  We aren’t the planning type.  We never know what will be going on in one week, much less, 6 months or a year.

Well, we were able to secure a pretty great site at Hunting Island over the past weekend. It wasn’t quite in the back…(an area we have coined “Mosquito Ally”) but it was beside a bathhouse on a knoll.img_3992uiimg_3991

Hunting Island State Park campground does not have Full Hookup.  So our rule is, during the day…if we have to go, we go to the bathhouse.  At night we use our own Camper bathroom.  It’s just simple math.

With our campsite being on a knoll, we didn’t have to worry about any standing water or flooding.  This has been a very wet summer!  Many pictures out in the Interwebs of flooded Camp sites.  Its miserable when you have to walk through water to get from your truck to your camper.  Or from your camper to the bathhouse.  And having dogs is another headache!

My iPhone is recording video of Pocket while on it’s stand.  You can hear Pocket whining with excitement.  She knows a campsite is ours, but not which one!  She’s impatient!

After we got somewhat set up, we hurried the kid and the dogs to the beach.  It was a beautiful early evening.  Somewhat cloudy, but the temperature was only in the 80’s which is pretty low this time of the year.  It’s not uncommon to have 99F with a heat index of over 115F.  So we were very happy!img_3812

Pocket and Yeti (Our poodle mixes) were able to stretch their legs and get their feet wet.  We as a family have always enjoyed walking the beaches no matter what time of year it is!  Right now, the water feels like bath water, and that is just fine with Pocket! Yeti with his stubby legs is a bit more cautious in the surf!

After a good long walk, it’s dinner time!  While most campers think it’s a sin to cook inside when camping…It’s more comfortable for me to whip something easy up in the little kitchen.  Hunting Island (and really anywhere in the Low Country, right now) is thick with mosquitos.  We do not yet have a screened in gazebo styled tent to eat in.  And if we did, our campsite wouldn’t allow for it after we parked our second vehicle with Jet skis on trailer.  So I cook, we eat, and back to the beach we go.  It’s dark by this time and windy.  Once we are on the beach, the wind alone takes care of any pesky biting bugs.  I get some neat pictures of the full moon, and the Kid and dogs chase Ghost Crabs.  Fun was had by all!

Hunting Island State Park has 5 miles of sandy beach, 1 salt water lagoon, 1 historic publicly accessible Lighthouse, 100 50amp Campsites (this is down from about 200 campsites due to Hurricane Mathew ’16 and Irma ’17) 1 Nature Center with animals, fish, reptiles and artifacts… and regularly scheduled programs for you to enjoy, 1 pier which is currently closed to fishing and crabbing but half of it is accessible to the public for viewing, and many options for day use!  And in case you didn’t know, there is a boat landing across the road from the Pier.  Russ Point Boat Landing.

We took our PWCs out for the first time at Russ Point.  We had plans of being able to take them beach side.  The issue was the sandbars.  Not wanting to ruin our WaveRunners and also not wanting to get STUCK…we just played around the bridge a bit and watched the Dolphins hunt.  We will go back with our PWCs but want to coordinate with a boat who utilizes a depth finder.  “Safety First!”

Yamaha WaveRunner in St. Helena Sound between Hunting Island State Park and Fripp Island, South Carolina Dolphin
Yamaha WaveRunner in St. Helena Sound between Hunting Island State Park and Fripp Island, South Carolina Dolphin

I do actually have GoPro footage, but half of it is pointed at the handlebars with the Sound in the background.  Not great.  I may have some Dolphin footage on there, I believe I do, however I’m still trying to figure out how to upload the footage.  Its looking like I’m going to rediscover YouTube as I cant figure out any other way to get my GoPro footage out there.  

Coming back to camp after splashing around on the PWCs, we were able to see one of the Hunting Island State Park Campground deer!  Wildlife are protected on Hunting Island.  Deer and Raccoons learn that Campers are nothing to fear.  Deer are polite about it.  The Raccoons are Thugs!  Because we didn’t do any cooking outside, and no food storage outside, we didn’t have any Bandit Raccoons plotting their heist!

You can hear me saying “I don’t care” to Dear Husband letting me know that there is traffic behind us.  Let me just say we were stopped all of Ten Seconds to look at a deer.  We weren’t holding up traffic.  And you can’t safely drive over 2 MPH due to the turns in the road, the proximity of the campers or tow vehicles, and the inevitable kids darting out in the road oblivious to vehicles.

Back to the Beach with the kid and Dogs…


What we didn’t do while camping, is hit the trails.  Because of all the rain and then add the mosquitos and ticks, it just wasn’t worth it.  That is something we like to do when it’s a bit colder.  For us at least cold enough for a sweater.  ***Side Note:Many people are under the impression there is a “tick season”.  In South Carolina, at least in the Low Country, if the Sun comes up…it’s Tick Season.  Always take measures for your family and furbabies.

14-SCP-554 Hunting Island Map Lo Res

Hunting Island State Park website- Southcarolinaparks.com/hunting-island/trails has listed:

Lagoon Access Recreation Trail

Length: 1.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This trail starts at the “J” parking and winds along the lagoon. It leads you through the maritime forest while providing scenic views of the lagoon and various wildlife habitats. 

Maritime Forest Trail

Length: 2.0 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This trail takes you deep into the interior maritime forest. You will see the dense vegetation that provides protected habitat for many animals including deer, raccoon, owls, hawks and squirrels.

Palmetto Pines Pass

Length: 0.2 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This trail connects the Lagoon Access Trail and the Maritime Forest.

Marsh Boardwalk Crossover

Length: 0.3 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This connector trail intersects the Lagoon Access Recreation Trail, Maritime Forest Trail and the Diamondback Rattlesnake Trail to provide a path leading to the Marsh Boardwalk Trail.

Marsh Boardwalk Trail

Length: 0.25 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: Designated a National Recreation Trail. This wooden boardwalk mixed with a crushed hardened surface is great for observing life in the salt marsh. The dock on the end provides an area for viewing magnificent sunsets. 

Nature Center Scenic Trail

Length: 0.7 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This trail provides access from the Nature Center to the Diamond Back Rattlesnake, Maritime Forest and Lagoon Recreation Access trails. It also provides access from the cabin area to the trail system. Make sure to walk the bridge over the lagoon to see its beauty from a different perspective. 

Magnolia Forest Trail

Length: 1.2 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: With natural terrain and some hilly surfaces, the trail will take you from the campground to the entrance gate of the daily beach access areas, lighthouse, visitor center and lagoon access. From the entrance gate, you will walk the roads of the park in order to reach the areas within, so be prepared for vehicle traffic. You are sure to see plenty of beautiful magnolia trees along the way.

Lighthouse Magnolia Forest Connector

Length: 0.6 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This trail starts from the Magnolia Forest Trail and ends at the Lighthouse parking area, providing campers with a route to the lighthouse without the worries of high tide or vehicle traffic. Featuring ancient rows of dunes as well as flatlands, populated by most of the island’s native plant and animal species, it is sure to provide enjoyment for hikers and bikers alike.

Lighthouse Nature Trail

Length: 0.4 miles

Type: Hiking Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This natural surface trail takes one along the edge of the forest to the ocean front. Hunting Island’s maritime forest of Live Oaks, Spanish moss and Palmetto trees can be easily seen along this trail.

One thing I will add…Hunting Island State Park still looks pretty rough.  It has had a couple of very hard years.  While we did lose many great camping sites on the ocean side, they have now offered day use picnic rental spots in the campground.  This was not an option before.  In the past you would need to roll the dice if you wanted to bring a picnic, and set up a day camp at Hunting Island.  These day use rental spots are close to the water, close too the restrooms, have a grill and a picnic table.  While we will miss the beach side campsites, this is a good use of that area considering it is no longer safe for overnight camping.


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