Get Your Free 2021 Vacation Guide

Start planning your ultimate South Carolina adventure with a free copy of the 2021 Vacation Guide. Request your free copy, view the guide online or download a PDF version below.

Vacation Guide Cover
View Our Other Guides

Enjoy a One-of-a-kind Getaway on St. Phillips Island

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
More from "Marie McAden"

Imagine a beach vacation on a secluded, semitropical island surrounded by breathtaking ocean vistas, winding tidal creeks and verdant salt marshes as far as the eye can see. Trails gingerly carved through a landscape of ancient sand dunes offer passage into a virgin forest where magnificent live oaks and towering magnolias have grown undisturbed for centuries.

Tucked at the edge of this wild and beautiful wilderness is a five-bedroom home offering all the modern comforts you’d find in a world-class resort.

Once owned by media mogul Ted Turner, St. Phillips Island is now part of the South Carolina state parks system, providing the public with the opportunity to enjoy this unique barrier island and the home that served as Turner’s private refuge for nearly 40 years.

Located northeast of Hilton Head Island among the barrier islands of Beaufort, St. Phillips is accessible only by boat with just a few man-made structures on the entire 4-mile long island. Along with Turner’s 3,350-square-foot beach house are a caretaker’s residence, maintenance shop, fishing pier and boat dock.

Purchased by the state of South Carolina in 2017, the property is managed by Hunting Island State Park, which offers eco-tours of the island through Lowcountry outfitter Coastal Expeditions. The Turner House, recently renovated and newly furnished, is also available as a vacation rental.

A classic Carolina beach house, it features a large screened back porch with rocking chairs, a comfortable sitting area with couches and chairs, and a Pawleys Island Hammock—all perfect for enjoying the spectacular ocean view.

Built shortly after Turner bought the island in 1979, the house was designed for simple, laid-back living with a large wood-paneled living room that opens to the back porch. Downstairs you’ll also find the master bedroom and bath, den, kitchen, guest bath and a game room equipped with a pool table that converts into a dining table.

Four bedrooms and three baths are located upstairs. Two of the bedrooms feature both a queen bed and twin bed, allowing for a total of 12 guests.

Outside the house is a patio featuring Adirondack chairs, a fire pit and a fishing pier with a sun deck.

The house rents for $12,000 for five nights. But unlike most beach vacation homes, you won’t have to rent bikes or kayaks during your stay. Both come with the house, along with beach chairs, binoculars, a bird spotting scope, telescope and two golf carts you can use to get to the beach and a boat dock with space reserved for one private boat.

Even more enticing, the rental comes with $1,000 in groceries that will be picked up, delivered and stocked prior to your arrival, allowing you to start your vacation the moment you walk in the door.

But it’s not the house or amenities that make the Turner House a one-of-a-kind vacation experience. It’s the natural aesthetic of the island.

Preserved as it was when Native Americans roamed its shores, St. Phillips is a rare find among the sea islands of South Carolina, Georgia and North Florida. A stunning example of these coastal landforms, it was designated a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 1986.

Only five other sites in South Carolina have received the National Park Service designation. A plaque commemorating the honor is proudly displayed on the brick wall fireplace in the living room.

Guests can explore the remarkable old-growth forest on a half dozen trails that traverse the 5,000-square-foot island. The longest passage, the 1.4-mile Long Pond Trail, allows you to experience one of St. Phillips’ most unusual features—a series of long, narrow sand dunes that run the length of the island, interspersed with brackish sloughs and freshwater ponds. The pronounced, vegetated ridges are unique to the entire Atlantic coast.

Several other trails take you through a diversity of ecosystems that serve as habitat for the island’s wildlife, including alligators, fox squirrels, indigo snakes, egrets, herons, wood storks and myriad other resident and seasonal bird species. You’ll also enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding salt marsh and the island’s freshwater ponds.

The half-mile Beach Trail provides access to a long expanse of pristine beach as beautiful as any on the Carolina coast. Equally as striking is the section of eroded shoreline scattered with a boneyard of weathered trees and driftwood.

While you will have the house to yourself during your stay, the island will remain open to tours, which run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from March through November and on Saturdays in the winter.

Want to reserve the entire island for you and your guests? Book the Exclusive Rental at a cost of $20,000 for five nights.

To learn more about the rental opportunities for the Turner House, click here or call (803) 904-6220.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.