Go Explore: Edisto Island, SC

by Janean Flowe
Edisto Botany Bay Plantation

Situated about 45 miles south of Charleston, Edisto is one of South Carolina’s largest barrier islands. Your drive along historic SC Highway 174 reveals untouched marshes, moss-draped oaks and gently developed beaches. Edisto Beach is an ideal spot for families to kick back and reconnect. Here are a few ways to enjoy your time here:


A visit to the Edisto Island Museum is a good way to get acquainted with the area’s rich history that includes Native Americans, English settlers, Spanish pirates and enslaved African-Americans. You’ll find artifacts, artwork and furnishings, as well as a portion of one of the last remaining slave cabins on the island. Dedicated to the recognition, preservation and study of reptiles, the Edisto Island Serpentarium is the state’s first of its kind. It’s home to more than 20 American alligators, three different species of lizards, snakes (venomous and non-venomous) and many turtles. They also provide engaging educational programs and lectures. Spend time at the Botany Bay Plantation Preserve. Once covered in Sea Island Cotton, this 4,600-acre property includes three outbuildings that date to the 1840s, as well as the prehistoric Fig Island Shell Ring. You might also spy wildlife along the forest trails — deer, shore birds and other maritime forest creatures. Take a stroll along the beach, known as Boneyard Beach for the sun bleached trees that stand or lie along the shore.


Tacos from Edisto Island

Tacos from Ella & Ollie’s



No matter what you’re craving, you’ll likely find it on the menu at Whaley’s. Fresh seafood, burgers, homemade potato chips, salads and sandwiches — there’s something for everyone. Whatever you order, make sure you star with their sushi nachos. A seasonally changing menu of fresh local seafood and inventive pizzas make

a frequent favorite for locals and visitors alike. The restaurant’s elegant, but casual atmosphere, creative cocktail menu and solid wine list are other reasons to give them a try. SeaCOW Eatery serves breakfast, lunch or dinner. Start the day with an omelet or “Moo La La” French toast. Lunch and dinner menus include sandwiches, salads, fresh seafood and other items. Save room for dessert — pies and desserts are baked fresh in house. Dine al fresco with Fido on their pet-friendly deck.


Dolphins off the coast of Edisto Beaches



One of four oceanfront state parks in South Carolina, 1,255-acre Edisto Beach State Park provides 1.5 miles of uninterrupted beach area. Additionally, hiking and biking trails (including four miles of ADA accessible trails), boat access, interpretive trails and other ways to enjoy nature are available. There’s also an Environmental Learning Center with exhibits on the natural history of Edisto Island and the surrounding ACE Basin. Whether you want to learn more about Harriet Tubman and Gullah culture, look for dolphins or fish in the salt marshes of the ACE Basin, Botany Bay Ecotours can accommodate you. Sunset cruises, guided beachcombing tours and a tranquil morning meditation cruise are also on offer. AAA Members receive a $25 off their tour! Use promo code AAA. Hit the greens for a round of golf at Plantation Course at Edisto. Great for all skill levels, the course was originally opened in 1974 (and called Oristo). Sam Snead hit the first shot. The picturesque course boasts tall palms, towering magnolias and abundant wildlife life herons, pelicans, egrets and alligators.


Visitors to Edisto Island can enjoy overnight stays at an area hotel or rental property. There’s a good selection from which to choose, making it easy to find an accommodation to match your needs and budget. Another option is to savor time outdoors and set up camp within Edisto Beach State Park. Pitch a tent under the stars, park your RV or rent one of seven furnished (and heated/air-conditioned) cabins. Cabins also include bath and bed linens, coffee maker, microwave, a TV and a screened-in porch. With the park’s extensive trails and easy access to the beach, it’s an ideal spot to enjoy quality family time.

Please note: COVID-19 may impact hours of operation and tour options. Contact each venue for latest updates.

(Go Magazine Nov-Dec 2020)

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