Seven Wonders of Hunting Island Beach
You’ve heard of the Seven Wonders of the World, but are you familiar with the seven wonders of Hunting Island? Check out these spots on your next trip to the beach.
1. The Miles of Nature Trails
Get in touch with nature along the trails in the pristine maritime forest at Hunting Island. Most of the trails are shady and meandering with views of the lagoon and persistent breezes from the ocean. Bird life is plentiful here and when you’re on the trails you can observe egrets, herons, ospreys, pelicans and gulls, as well as our local population of magnificent bald eagles. If you catch the lagoon on an incoming tide you will see birds in action, spectacularly diving for bait fish. We’ve even seen dolphins frolicking in the water while on a trail walk. It’s an amazing sight that will always stop you in your tracks.
After being ravaged by Hurricane Matthew and then assaulted by Tropical Storm Irma, the 6 major trails at Hunting Island State Park have officially reopened to park visitors. The Nature Center Trail, Lagoon Trail, Marsh Boardwalk Crossover Trail, Palmetto Pines Pass, 75% of the Maritime Forest Trail, and a short section of the Magnolia Forest Trail have reopened providing over 4 miles of of hiking, running and nature watching to enjoy at the park.
2. The Hunting Island Lighthouse
One of the most recognizable and most beloved landmarks in the Beaufort area is the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse. The only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state, you can climb the 167 steps to the top for a truly amazing view.
3. Boulders at the Groins
Boulders were placed at points along the beach the last time that Hunting Island went through a re-nourishment project. Once just rocks, they are now barnacle-laden and teeming with life. At low tide, crabs and small fish that live in the rocks get trapped, and it can be just like enjoying a home aquarium. Another project is slated for the spring of 2018. Wonder what changes will befall the rocks?
4. The “Peace Tree”
Locals call this tree along the beach the ‘peace tree.’ One would think it got it’s name because it’s such a peaceful spot to sit and admire one of our perfect Hunting Island sunrises. Local photographer Delk Haigler with Delk Haigler Photography actually gave it the name a few years ago…and it’s stuck with it. It’s definitely one of the coolest trees along the beach, but it won’t be there forever as the ocean consumes everything in time, and it’s creeping up to the peace tree.
5. The Boneyard
There’s a beautiful stretch of beach nearly a mile long at the north end of Hunting Island near the lighthouse that’s referred to as ‘the boneyard’. It’s home to hundreds of dead ghost trees that have been killed by the saltwater that’s constantly moving in from the loss of beach due to erosion…and it’s quite the sight to see.
6. The Lagoon
The Hunting Island lagoon is the perfect spot to get away from the Atlantic surf and still be near the water. The lagoon is home to hundreds of bird and other wildlife species including raccoon, deer, blue heron, egret, pelican, sand piper, and king fisher can be seen there. Fishing, photography and lots of kayaking are daily lagoon activities. As early as last year, it was well protected from the surf but Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Irma changed that. Today you will still find a lagoon, of sorts; it’s been breached but can still be used.
It’s always the quiet side of the beach.
7. Marsh Boardwalk
Okay, so maybe it’s not along the beach. But do yourself a favor and drive another minute along Highway 21 past the gate to the beach and you’ll find the marsh boardwalk on the right side of the road. It extends across the lush marsh tidal flats to a small gazebo and provides the perfect platform for viewing area nature and wildlife. An absolutely amazing spot to be at sunset, the boardwalk is probably the most serene and peaceful spot on the entire island.