Sporting Life // 5 min Read

Camping in the Lowcountry

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Jan 16, 2020

Camping, with its loosely defined rules and requirements, can successfully occur on any landscape, with any amount of equipment, and on any date. Are you camping in a high-end RV? Sure. Camping in a mountain cabin? Yeah, that works I suppose. In a tent? Maybe a hammock? A lean-to shelter? Cave? Now you are tickling my fancy. Near the ocean, mountains, creek, hunting ground, fishing hole? Yes, indeed! There is no wrong answer. There are, however, details that are consistent with most exceptional camping trips. I’ll bet there were biking, hiking, and kayaking opportunities close by. There was also most likely some pristine wilderness. And the chosen campsite probably had a good view.

South Carolina has an enormous array of opportunities for camping. In fact, there are almost too many options. For this article, we will focus our attention on the Lowcountry. More specifically, we will look at South Carolina state parks within an hour’s drive of Palmetto Bluff. By choosing from a few semi-local sites, we can lay out some trips for a weekend excursion. It would be poor form to recommend a camping area without visiting the location first, so for research (and fun), I loaded up my little familial unit and hit the road.

Our first destination was Hunting Island State Park. To get there, just follow Sea Island Parkway out of Beaufort, South Carolina, in the direction of Fripp Island. You will have no choice but to cross onto Hunting Island. A barrier island free from development, here you will find pristine maritime forest. The island boasts 5 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront—great for hiking, biking, tanning, and swimming. A beach without a backdrop of towering condominiums and parking lots is a rare find these days. It is a reality at Hunting Island State Park. On the northern end of the island, coastal erosion and sea-level rise have produced a driftwood-covered beach. Imagine massive trees toppled and scattered on the sand like sun-bleached skeletons. It is visually striking, especially at sunrise.

Once you’ve had your fun on the beach, get out and explore all this island has to offer. Other attractions include a lighthouse with panoramic views of the coast and forest, a marsh boardwalk with excellent sunsets, a top-notch nature center, and 8 miles of nature trails. Camping is not permitted directly on the beach, but don’t let this discourage you.

Camping on the beach is overrated, as sand always finds its way into tents, sleeping bags, and bodily crevices. (I won’t elaborate on the discomfort this phenomenon brings.) You’ll be much more comfortable at a campsite with shower/restroom facilities as well as hookups for potable water and electricity.

A lighthouse and 5,000 acres of beach, marsh, and maritime forest come together in a great recipe for a full weekend of fun. Be sure to reserve your campsite well in advance. Hunting Island State Park is a highly sought-after camping destination.

Our next journey begins in Walterboro and ends in Ridgeville, South Carolina. You’ll find the entrance to Colleton State Park just minutes from Interstate 95. This park is a mere 35 acres, but big things come in small packages. Here, you will find a short, yet diverse, nature trail leading down to the Edisto River. There are a handful of campsites that can accommodate RV or tent campers. Campsites #9 and #11 are the best choices, if available, as each overlooks the Edisto—the park’s main attraction. Although it will only take about an hour to see all this park has to offer, we recommend it because it’s a launching point for a kayaking adventure.

Pick a weekend. Since you’ll be visiting two parks, you will want to arrive at Colleton State Park in the early afternoon on Friday. This will give your group plenty of time to set up camp, get a lay of the land, have dinner, and relax. Break camp early Saturday morning, load your gear into your kayaks or canoes, and shove off into the wild and wonderful Edisto. This river is one of America’s longest free-flowing blackwater rivers. Dyed to the tone of sweet tea by leaf litter, a blackwater river is one that flows very slowly through forested swamp or wetlands. Once you set sail, your group can expect a leisurely 23-mile float downstream. Sit back and enjoy the ride, or bring a rod and catch your dinner along the way. This is multitasking at its finest. (Just make sure to grab a fishing license first.)

Your destination is Givhans Ferry State Park, where your group will make landfall Saturday afternoon. This park is 988 acres. Within its boundaries, you will find several miles of nature trails, playgrounds, and pavilions for lounging.

After a day of boating and floating, you will have a decision to make. Do you camp Saturday night at Givhans or load your gear and head home? The choice is yours. There are plenty of sites for RVs as well as tent-only campsites. (In the biz, we call this a primitive campsite.) No matter what you decide, you will need a way to return to your vehicle at Colleton State Park. Hopefully, you thought ahead and parked a second vehicle at Givhans on Friday afternoon for this purpose. If not, hitchhiking is ill-advised.

Good times! A camping trip is a way to attach yourself to a specific place and time. It is a single-serve moment in nature that can’t be re-created or repeated. Knowing this gives reason to get back out there for another round of chasing that perfect trip. Unfortunately, the camping trip that most folks remember with absolute clarity is the trip that went horribly wrong. You know. The one where your spouse or child got poison ivy, the one where the bugs were outrageous (and you didn’t have bug spray), the one where all of your gear got thoroughly soaked, the one where nobody remembered toilet paper. . . .


You CAN have a perfect camping trip by following a short list of recommendations.

1. Be prepared. Make sure all gear is functioning properly and packed neatly before departure. Commonly forgotten items that can make or break a trip include bug spray (extremely important in the Lowcountry), toilet paper (and a shovel to bury the evidence), a first-aid kit, and a chair or cushion to rest on.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The natural world has a way of sneakily sucking the moisture from your body.

3. Educate yourself on any local rules, regulations, or permit requirements as these can often vary from site to site. For example, firearms are not permitted in any South Carolina state park. Publicly consuming or displaying alcohol is also prohibited. (No guns or booze is a tough concept for me to grapple with, but it has its virtues nonetheless.)

4. All the clichéd adages addressing litter should be followed religiously. “Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos.” “Practice no-trace camping.” We have all heard those a million times—and for good reason. Nothing diminishes time in nature quicker than the leavings of the sloppy. Litter is the worst.

5. Use the buddy system. Always travel with friends or family. This has obvious safety benefits but conversation around a campfire is time-honored.

For more information on the destinations mentioned in this article and much more, visit

Food & Wine / Fall Recipes From Buffalos

Your Pine-ness Cocktail Recipe Before delving into the ingredients and recipe for Buffalos’ delectable Ricotta Meatballs and Sauce, it is imperative that the chef has an excellent cocktail for cooking. Pairing the sweetness of pineapple with the woody flavo...

Sep 2023
palmetto bluff neighborhoods

Real Estate / Waterfront Neighborhoods in Palmetto Bluff

Coastal Palmetto Bluff Neighborhoods Palmetto Bluff, a private community nestled along the South Carolina coastline, presents a harmonious blend of luxurious living, recreational spaces, and a vibrant atmosphere. The meticulously designed Palmetto Bluff neigh...

Sep 2023
wilson landing

Waterways / Behind the Bluff with Marina Captain: Thomas Shanahan

Meet Captain Tom of Palmetto Bluff’s Wilson Landing  In the tranquil embrace of Bluffton's Lowcountry, where rivers wind their way through nature's masterpiece, an extraordinary tale unfolds at Wilson Landing of Palmetto Bluff. The story belongs to Captain Th...

Sep 2023
luxury kitchen design

Architecture & Design / Designing the Southern Kitchen of Your Dreams

Your Guide to a Luxury Kitchen Design The kitchen has long been the heart of the home, where cherished memories are cooked up and shared. When it comes to Lowcountry living, a well-designed kitchen is not just a place to prepare meals but a space that encapsu...

Sep 2023
summer bucket list

Culture / Summer Activities to Check Off Your List Before the Fall

10 Activities You Have to Cross Off Your Summer Bucket List While the days are long and the sun hangs high in the sky, summer offers a golden opportunity to create lasting memories and partake in a variety of thrilling activities. Before the cooler breeze of ...

Sep 2023

Conservation / Water Way

Palmetto Bluff is an ecological wonderland, with its maritime forest and tidal rivers, its salt marsh and abundant wildlife. But perhaps one of the most unique features of this wedge of Lowcountry is the impressive inland waterway that wends through the landsc...

Aug 2023

Artist in Residence / Places Around Palmetto Bluff to Paint Plein Air

Plein Air Painting and Our August Artist in Residence Palmetto Bluff is a paradise for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and serene atmosphere. With that being said, the Bluff is the perfect canvas f...

Aug 2023
coastal living

Waterways / Experience Health and Happiness By Living on the Coast

5 Health Benefits of Coastal Living Did you know that life by the coast is not only the most idyllic way to live, but it also improves your health? All in all, coastal living is a rejuvenating experience for the mind, body, and soul. From the cool, salty bree...

Aug 2023
south carolina lowcountry

Culture / 9 Enticing Facts About the Lowcountry

Discover the Charm of the South Carolina Lowcountry Where history and nature intertwine with effortless grace, the South Carolina Lowcountry is a region that allures visitors and residents alike with its timeless beauty, enchanting landscapes, and diverse cul...

Aug 2023

Conservation / Behind the Bluff with Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Educator: Aaron Palmieri

Aaron’s Journey to the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy   In the heart of the Lowcountry, where lush landscapes and diverse ecosystems flourish, lies a hidden gem known as Palmetto Bluff. This breathtaking sanctuary serves as a haven for an array of wildlife, offer...

Aug 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us