St. Phillips Island – Beach Town Escapes

Finding Solace, Simple Luxury & Exploration on an Off the Beaten Path on St. Phillips Island

Immersed in the captivating worlds of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ and the thrilling escapades of ‘Outerbanks’ alongside my daughter, I found myself bewitched by the allure of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. While fleeting childhood memories of Hilton Head Island lingered, it was the majestic waterways depicted in these tales that ignited my curiosity.

As fate would have it, during a flight from Florida to Philadelphia, the intricate waterways of this lowland paradise unveiled themselves from my plane’s window. Determined to explore, the Universe answered my call with an invitation to the enchanting St. Phillips Island in South Carolina.

Nestled off the coast, St. Phillips Island, a 4-mile-long, 4,680-acre undeveloped barrier island, emerged as a hidden gem of the Lowcountry. Once the prized possession of billionaire conservationist Ted Turner, who ardently safeguarded its natural splendor, the island transitioned into the care of the State of South Carolina in 2017. Operated in harmony with nearby Hunting Island State Park, it stands as a testament to the preservation of pristine beauty.

Aboard a boat ferrying us to the island, the playful dance of dolphins welcomed our group, escorting us through the boat’s wake. The contrast from our dry Rocky Mountain environment was stark, and I marveled at the wilderness that unfolded – marshes, seabirds, meadows, tidal pools, estuaries, and a jungle adorned with palms, live oaks, cedars, magnolia trees, all draped in the deceptive Spanish Moss, a revelation shared by our knowledgeable naturalist guide.

Our haven for the week, The Turner House, a beach retreat constructed by Ted Turner in 1979, cradled us in comfort. With its ten-guest capacity, master bedroom, additional guest bathroom, and a second level boasting four bedrooms and three bathrooms, it exuded a timeless charm. The living room, kitchen, bar area, convertible dining room/game room, and den beckoned us to unwind. The pièce de résistance was the expansive 820-square-foot screened porch, a sanctuary with hammocks and seating, offering a front-row seat to the Atlantic Ocean’s symphony while keeping bugs and winds at bay.

The house rental came with fishing equipment, bikes, kayaks, beach chairs, binoculars and a delightful surprise – two dedicated naturalists, incredibly knowledgeable guides to the island’s wonders. From the interior jungle to marshland cruises, and a sunrise coastal tour amidst “ghost forests,” we reveled in the island’s secrets. The naturalists’ fervor for St. Phillips Island, its Native American and Gullah Geechee heritage, and the rich tapestry of flora and fauna left an indelible mark on our hearts.

As dawn painted the sky in pastel hues, bidding farewell to Saint Phillips Island was bittersweet. My heart remained entwined with its allure, the whispers of Saint Philip and echoes of centuries past lingering in the sea breeze, a beckoning call for others to uncover the enchantment that awaits on this hidden gem off the South Carolina coast.

For those eager to embark on this adventure, both day trips and house rentals are available. Visit the South Carolina State Parks website for details.

A South Carolina State Parks representative will be able to assist you with this request.

As seen in our New Publication, Beach Town Magazine

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