Sunset on Edisto Island
Wow, there is literally something to do for everyone on Edisto Island [pronounced ED’i-stoe, not that I’m successful at saying it that way]! From fishing to biking, hiking, birdwatching, camping, shell hunting, seasonal hunting, to planation touring and sea turtle watching, there’s something for everyone at any time of year.
The name Edisto started with the Edistow tribe of native americans that were the first recorded to inhabit the island. The island is now home to many rental beach houses, restaurants and shops, a serpentarium, museums, planations, Edisto Beach State Park, and Botany Bay Planation Wildlife Management Area.
View of the Salt Marsh near the Campground
Edisto Island is about an hour southwest of Charleston. It took us about an hour and forty minutes on Highway 17 because of traffic and two accidents, but it’s an hour conceivably. The drive is beautiful in that classic old southern road lined with live oak and spanish moss–just gorgeous, but be careful on State Highway 174; there is a lip on both sides that will pull your tires and there is no shoulder. The live oaks hang over the road, which could be a little scary for anyone hauling a rig or in a motorhome.
A Large Oak
Some Islandlife Highlights
There is the Edisto Beach Loggerhead Turtle Project that relies on volunteers to monitor and locate sea turtle nests. Stay off any dunes marked as turtle nesting grounds and report any sea turtle you see to the appropriate number [look for posts in that area saying what numbers to call]. We’re excited to sign up for the night Loggerhead Sea Turtle Walks in the summer, held by the State Park. Should be a fun time!
The Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society holds annual tours in October of the privately owned, hard to find planations that remain from the ‘sea island cotton’ boom back in the 1700 and 1800s. These plantations aren’t visible from the road and aren’t open to the public other than during the tour.
The State Park
It takes a little bit of map gazing before you get the lay out of the park. If you are a little lost, head to the Environment Education Center first. The very helpful staff, who happen to wear uniforms very similiar to those of the national park rangers, will be there to answer your questions [9am to 4pm in the offseason]. The Education Center is full of nicely done exhibits [though some were out of working order], a touch tank, live sea creatures in tanks and a short little film about the ecologically important ACE basin. The Education Center is a green building, and it’s also painted green, with each green feature numbered.
There is a ton of camping available [91 sites, I believe], but I’m sure it fills fast! You can have a marsh view, a sand dune view, a beach site, or be in some palmettos [by the way, some of the tallest in the state are found there!].
Walking about the Trail
For a description of the trails, plus directions and camping reservation info, click Here.
My husband and I took all the trails, and although relatively small, there is plenty of walking to do and plenty to look at! The shell midden called Spanish Mount, was neat to see, being 4000 years old and held up by the decking! We saw at least three different types of woodpeckers, a hermit thrush, bluebirds, ibises and chickadees. I’ve been on the lookout for anoles, but haven’t spotted any yet, though I did find some small skinks in the pine straw along the trails. Once it warms up, I’m sure you’ll be able to spot more wildlife, including a few alligators!
Whelks from the Midden
Two Overwintering Bluebirds
A Hermit Thrush
Two Fiddler Crabs, One Male, One Female
My husband took a nice video of the Fiddler crabs; I might try to get that on here soon. It is interesting to watch the foraging difference between the male and female. The female Fiddler is at an obvious advantage because she can pick through the sediment with both little claws. The male, on the other hand [or claw], can’t do so because of the one enlarged claw that serves for defending territory and jousting.
Whelk on the Beach
Good heavens I have never seen so many shells in my life! What the stars are in the sky, the shells are on the beach, it seems. It was heaven for my husband, who is a 5 year old shell stomper in disguise, and it was heaven for me, since finding a nice whelk that was over 5 inches was pretty simple there! We found 4! Plan your visit right after high tide for good shells, but there will always be shells there. And if you could, throw back the live ones! It’s hard to stay off the beach if you don’t have any legs. I’d love to know why there are indeed so many, but a little more research is required on my part. I’ll let you know!
A Live Knobbed Whelk
For more information, visit the Edisto Chamber of Commerce website, full of usefull information that helped fill this blog!
Another great resource: www.edistoisland.com From Fishing to Reality to Weddings, the site offers lots of information!
Watching a Beautiful Sunset