Editor’s Note: As of February, 2017, all areas of the park, except the Nature Center and a small portion of the pier, are currently closed. For further information, contact the park directly at (843) 838-2011.
Hunting Island State Park is a truly spectacular place. Located on a 5,000-acre barrier island just 16 miles east of Beaufort on U.S. Hwy. 21, the park teems with wildlife and lush vegetation, and offers a delightful day for anyone interested in nature or history.
The Island has three miles of walkable beaches, a historic lighthouse, and ample opportunities for bird watching, fishing, crabbing, or shrimping. Shady picnic tables, showers, dressing rooms make a day trip to the beach manageable.
The Island’s marshes there were used for the Vietnam War scenes in the movie Forrest Gump. Jungle and water camp scenes for the movie G.I. Jane were also shot on Hunting Island.
As you drive in, you go through a maritime forest with soaring pines and palms. Nestled into this woodland setting is the Visitors Center where you can get a park map and brochure, and see exhibits on the historic lighthouse as well as on the natural flora and fauna. A small auditorium hosts educational programs on the island’s nature and history.
The historic grounds of the 132.5-foot tall lighthouse are fascinating, and the 167-step climb to the top of the lighthouse is an absolute must. Although the light is no longer in service, the view is amazing and you’ll have great photo opportunities.
The Hunting Island Lighthouse has a unique structure because it was built to be portable. It was constructed of large cast-iron sections, and then lined with bricks. The lighthouse not only warned boats away from shallow water, but also served as the halfway point between Savannah and Charleston. In 1889 beach erosion caused the lighthouse to be moved 1.3 miles to its current location.
The park has 200 camping sites and 14 fully equipped climate-controlled cabins. You can stay up to two weeks. Call ahead (843-838-2011) to check the availability.
The park is open to the public daily year around from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. April through September, or until 6:00 p.m., October through March. There is a park admission fee.