In my time working in social media and within the travel industry, one fact has been made abundantly clear. Beauty inspires discovery. Imagery has the power to create a longing within us to explore new places and experience new things. I see stunning imagery of South Carolina every day in my job, but I can personally attest that no matter how pretty a picture, it can't compare to an in-person experience.
This is especially true in the case of Hunting Island State Park. South Carolina’s most popular state park, it’s also one of the most photographed and offers some of the most spectacular views of the region we call the Lowcountry. As I walked out on the park’s marsh boardwalk for the very first time and took in the wide expanse of marsh grass topped with blue skies I will forever swear you can only see in South Carolina, I had to concede—no photo or video could ever fully capture the wonder of this place.
South Carolina has 47 state parks offering visitors unique opportunities to experience the various regions and terrain found in our beautiful state. At Hunting Island, the park hosts activities and programming that highlight the coast's distinctive landscapes and ecosystems. So, for my first-ever South Carolina state park program, I went crabbing!
I met Interpretive Ranger Megan Maule on the Hunting Island marsh boardwalk where she talked me through the process of catching some of South Carolina’s most prized crustaceans. Blue crabs are beautiful and—according to many seafood lovers—delicious. We weren’t catching to eat that day, but if we had been, it would have been a feast!
I think I was spoiled on my first crabbing excursion as almost all of the drop nets we lowered were fruitful. Because blue crabs are voracious scavengers, some of the best bait you can use is simply a couple of smelly chicken necks. Ours must have been very appetizing that morning. It wasn’t long before we were pulling up some of those blue beauties.
Ranger Megan showed me the safest way to handle them (seeing how nervous as I was looking at their huge pinchers) and how to measure them to ensure they are large enough to keep based on guidelines set by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. It was such a simple activity but I learned a lot in a short time. I found interacting with the crabs to be more fascinating than frightening, though they can be quite ferocious!
After we released the crabs back to the water, it was time to venture over to the day’s main event. Hunting Island State Park is home to one of the state’s most distinctive landmarks, its lighthouse. As the state’s only publicly accessible lighthouse, climbing to the top is often the highlight of a visit to the park. But let me tell ya, it’s a hike—especially in a mask (which is currently required in all indoor state park facilities). Of course, the view that awaits you at the top is so worth it.
From the 130-foot observation deck, you'll enjoy views of Edisto Island and the Atlantic Ocean stretched out before you to an endless horizon. Standing there was a powerful experience, inspiring a feeling of gratitude within me, not just for the opportunity to take in the breathtaking vista, but to live in this state.
With creative, relevant programming, exciting recreational activities, and some of the most spectacular views around, there’s no question South Carolina’s state parks are one of the best ways to experience the Palmetto State. Find a park that interests you, and go for it!
Filming for this show was done in part prior to Covid-19 and SCPRT recommends following local guidelines for social distancing and your personal protection. Some of the activities depicted in the “Go For It’ series might be affected, or even unavailable, due to Covid-19. Please check with the local provider or attraction for the latest schedules and hours of operation.