One of the best parts of our Southern road trip of summer 2014 was the interlude between the two cities we visited when we camped at the beach.
One of the most blessed random online occurrences I’ve had (right up there with meeting the best roommate I’ve ever had on Craigslist) was googling “camping near Charleston” and finding this paradise.
I’m almost reluctant to name it, because that fact that I and most everyone I’ve discussed it with had never heard of it clearly means the people who go are keeping it a secret because it’s so great.
Behold, our campsite on Hunting Island State Park.
That image right there was our entire walk to the beach.
That image right there is one of the many feral-but-friendly kitties we encountered on the island (our tent neighbor, observing we were nature lovers, adorably showed us a video he took of a stag eating their corncobs at their campsite and called us over when he saw a raccoon).
We didn’t see these guys, but we saw evidence of their nests (!!!!)
Now, the beach. Let me count the ways I love the beach.
1. Bath warm water
2. Sand soft as baby powder
3. No hotels or development- this island consists of campsites, a nature center, and a lighthouse. That’s it!
4. A huuuuge sandbar that means people can walk around way far out. (Well, brave people. Steve did. I am typically too wimpy to go above my knee’s depth in the ocean. Chalk it up to watching Jaws at too young an age).
5. Waves smaller than that you would find in a lake at low tide, resulting in wonderfully peaceful swimming.
6. Incredibly friendly people! We befriended lots of families.
The beach’s most bewitching aspect escaped my camera (because who wants to haul around electronics while taking a long walk on the beach?)
So there’s a magic section of the beach that’s only accessible during low tide. You walk around a bend and discover a whole new environment. Myriad overturned trees stick their big gnarly roots out of the water and look like sculptures. Dozens of little crabbies have recolonized the trees and scurry around when you walk by them. More tidepools spring up under the still-standing trees, and snowy egrets hop around having their snacks. It was gorgeous!
Then, later that night, Steve and I walked along the water as the moon rose over the ocean. The way the moonlight lit up a section of the beach to such an extent it was almost like daytime, save the odd tint, was really cool and spooky. The dark parts of the beach looked absolutely terrifying and we avoided them 😀
So food. Let’s start with the earlier, successful part of the day. We went to this cute little restaurant looking out on the marsh between St. Helena Island and Hunting Island.
It seems to be a South Carolina trend that you plaster your walls with dollar bills signed and decorated by customers.
Knowing it was a regional specialty, I requested that we split a bowl of she-crab soup. It was decadent and amazing.
For my entree, I got a grilled fish sandwich- the day’s special, something from nearby, I forget the name. Plus coleslaw (not good, didn’t eat much) and fries. I am such a snob about some foods but inevitably prefer cheap, pre-frozen fries to ones at fancy restaurants.
Then there was an interlude where I played with a kitten I loved SO MUCH. (Steve took a video of it, hahahahaha). Isn’t it crazy how loud all the cicadas and crickets and buglers are?
I’m super distraught I didn’t take the kitten home with me. He was so cute and playful and while initially very shy inched closer and closer to me and let me pet him for like two whole seconds before sprinting away when a noise startled him.
And then our spooky walk. And then…
My loved ones know that I have this super odd tendency (although I recently learned that this happens to my friend Alex too, and he’s half Greek too, SO MAYBE IT’S SOME SORT OF ETHNIC FLAW hahaha jk) to get ill when I’ve been in the sun too much. It starts with a headache and then transitions to nausea and usually all-out puking. It’s happened to me for as long as I can remember, and it’s really just sort of part of my beach routine- spend the day at the beach, have fun, come back from the sun, feel bad, throw up, have a soda, feel better.
But this was all REALLY REALLY BAD at a campsite, and Steve, being the HERO of my LIFE, singlehandedly packed up our camp site and drove me to a hotel in the middle of the night. I was not in a good state- when you’re shivering in August in South Carolina (and then in a hot shower) it’s worrying.
Fortunately, I recovered pretty quickly the next morning.
Kudos to Beaufort, South Carolina (pronounced Byew-fort, not to be confused with the identically spelled Beaufort, North Carolina, which is pronounced bow-fort). It is pretty there.