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Discover Edisto Island's Hidden Gems

Perry Baker Perry Baker
Perry is a former photojournalist who now serves as the Interactive Manager for DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.
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Edisto Island offers far more than a beautiful beach for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Check out some of the natural wonders that make this coastal community so special:

Edisto Island Serpentarium
The first true serpentarium in South Carolina, this facility is dedicated to the preservation and study of reptiles from the state of South Carolina and around the world. You don't want to miss this attraction, especially if you are vacationing with kids.

Edisto Island Museum
This little museum showcases the island's unique history and includes exhibits on the Edisto Indians, a local tribe that long ago vanished from the area. The museum has numerous artifacts on display that help tell this important story.

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area
Once home to a thriving Sea Island cotton plantation, the wildlife management area exhibits many characteristics common to sea islands along the Southeast coast, including pine hardwood forests, agricultural fields, coastal wetlands and a barrier island with a beachfront. Only this tract has been left undisturbed, providing coastal habitat for a wide range of wildlife species, including loggerhead sea turtles, the state-threatened least tern and neo-tropical songbirds like the painted bunting and summer tanager.

Botany Bay is very accessible and can be toured in half a day or less. Simply pick up a free self-guided driving tour guide at the information kiosk near the entrance to the preserve and you're on your way. The 6.5-mile route begins along a magnificent avenue of oaks interspersed with loblolly pine and cabbage palmetto, the state tree. Look for colonies of resurrection fern growing on the spreading oak limbs. After a rain, the leaves of the resurrection ferns turn a beautiful bright green.

ACE Basin
Named after the free-flowing Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers, the unspoiled estuary—one of the largest wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic coast—is a hidden ecological gem in South Carolina's Lowcountry. Most travelers making the drive along US 17 or Interstate 95 between Hilton Head Island and Charleston pass through the ACE unaware of the stunning landscape that lies just beyond the blacktop.

More than a dozen public lands offer visitors access to the ACE Basin, where they can view an array of wildlife, from alligators and otters to endangered or threatened species like wood storks and bald eagles. Because the ACE Basin lies along the Atlantic Flyway, it attracts a fantastic variety of birds year-round. More than 265 species of resident and migrant birds have been sighted in the estuaries, including the rare whooping crane.

Perry Baker
Perry is a former photojournalist who now serves as the Interactive Manager for DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.