South Carolina is famous for its beaches, from the Grand Strand to the north, all the way to Hilton Head in the south, with a dozen beloved vacation destinations in between.
But there is a stretch of South Carolina coastline, about 70 miles long, that is hidden in plain sight, a stretch little visited and yet spectacularly beautiful. This place, between Mount Pleasant and Georgetown, is well worth seeking out.
The area is bookended by Francis Marion National Forest to the west, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge to the east, Capers Island to the south and the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center to the north. You will find some of the most pristine, untouched, jaw-dropping natural beauty in the state, but you'll find no hotels and just a handful of cafes and restaurants, no shopping malls and few gift or T-shirt shops, if any. But that doesn't mean that there is nothing to do for fun-loving families, or no places to explore for adventurous kids and parents, though.
Here are some of our suggestions on how your family can explore South Carolina's most untouched stretch of coastline.
What more exciting way to explore a deep and massive forest could there be than to fly through its canopy? Charleston Zipline Adventures is surely one of the most thrilling ways a family can explore the Francis Marion National Forest.
If gliding through the water, rather than the air, sounds more like your family's speed, then head to Nature Adventure Outfitters. Their experienced guides will take you kayaking through the blackwater swamps and meandering creeks of Francis Marion.
McClellanville, right in the heart of this stretch of coastline, is like a town that time forgot. This little fishing village is tucked away, surrounded by marsh and forest and ocean. It is charming, beautiful, and gracious and an all-around delightful place for parents and children to explore. Since McClellanville is a working fishing village, it is a great way to see working shrimp boats up close when they bring in their catch.
The Center for Birds of Prey was founded in 1991 as a place to treat and rehabilitate injured birds. Since then, this amazing place has welcomed visitors to see their work with magnificent birds of prey from around the world. And don't miss the amazing flight demonstration and aviaries of birds that are permanently injured and unable to leave the center.
Capers Island, at the southern edge of this undiscovered coastline, is a state-owned and undeveloped barrier island. This pristine place is what all the beaches of South Carolina has once looked like. You can head out there to explore either by motor boat or kayak.
And finally, no visit to the hidden-in-plain-sight coast of South Carolina could be complete without a trip to Bulls Island. This astonishing island is the only easily-accessible-to-people part of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. And even then, it isn't that easy reach. Only accessible by ferry, the island is home to birds, alligators and the famous Boneyard Beach, perhaps the most haunting place in all of South Carolina. Be prepared to walk - there's lots of sand. Bring water. And depending on the time of year, mosquitoes can be more than nuisance.