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Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Updated: Mar 3

Hunting Island is a nature paradise with a campground and historical lighthouse. It is perfect for RVers and tent camping. The sites are small however, 35 foot RVs can find sites. This is a great alternative for kids to explore and enjoy the great outdoors and ocean. Here is why it is great for kids.

  1. Hunting Island has one of the best beaches in the United States

  2. Bicycling on the beach and the bike trails on the island and in Beaufort

  3. Great hiking and bird and wildlife watching

  4. Wonderful swimming, and fossil and bone hunting

  5. Tour the lighthouse and surrounding buildings

  6. Short distance to Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Savannah


We found Hunting Island by searching for the top state parks in the United States.


Where is Hunting Island State Park?


Hunting Island is a 5,000 acre barrier island in South Carolina just north of Hilton Head and East of Beaufort. Leaving Beaufort South Carolina on US Highway 21 going East will lead you to the end of the road at Hunting Island State Park. It was designated a state park in 1935.


What is there to see and do at Hunting Island State Park?


Hunting Island is home to the Hunting Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse is included in the National Historic Register of Deeds and is open for tours.




Also on the island is the Hunting Island Nature Center. At the nature center you can visit with staff, see reptiles and fish and also fossils and bones. For us, the best aspect of the nature center was seeing a megalodon tooth and seeing the alligator presentation. The nature center parking lot is also host to the fishing pier and nature trails that are excellent for escaping into the island forest and forgetting your troubles.





Why is Hunting Island State Park so Special?


Hunting Island State Park is special because it has not been developed. There are a limited number of parking spots, day use facilities, and only about 100 campsites. The advantage.....there is a lot of beach for the number of people that can visit each day. This is a quieter alternative to Myrtle Beach and other populated beaches.




Are Dogs Allowed on Hunting Island?


Dogs are welcome is most locations on a six-foot leash. There are many varieties of bird and other wildlife on the island. You will want to keep your dogs secure. Talk to park rangers when you enter for the day or when camping. We noticed signs where dogs are not allowed and you will want to know where you can and can't take your pets.


What wildlife can you see at Hunting Island State Park?


Deer roam the campground at dusk but raccoons own the campground. We had a campfire one night and felt the raccoons just outside the light of the fire. When we turned in for the night I forgot something outside and went out with a flashlight. The raccoons were not happy with my return and let me know by yelling at us from the trees. So, we played with them a little. We went into the rv and a few minutes later came back out to see them closer to our site. They made a lot of noise that time. So, we went back in for another minute and came back out and set them off again. What a great memory. Keep your food locked up and in your car or RV. Or in the morning you may find yourself cleaning up after them.




Are there bike and hiking trails in Hunting Island State Park?


The bicycling and hiking on the island is perfect for kids. There are over 10 miles of hiking/biking trails on the island. There is parking at the nature center, lighthouse and other locations in between for launching your bicycles or starting your hike. There are many places to stop, grab water, a snack, and explore the island. The bridge at the south end of the island that connects to little hunting island is a great location. We left our bikes on the West side of the bridge and hiked across. There we uncovered the boneyard.


What is it like in the Boneyard in Hunting Island State Park?


The boneyard was described in the Netflix Series Outer Banks. If you've seen it, you witnessed something special. Most of the damage to the island occurred during hurricane Matthew. The cottages that were on the island were destroyed and the boneyard of dead trees were created. Trees were knocked down by the storm and their dead remains are strewn across the landscape as a parkour course for all to enjoy. But, In 2019, the boneyard was cleared and described as maintenance to protect the island.




Is Hunting Island State Park Worth It?


We could have spent a full five days on the island. As you have read the hiking, biking, beach, lighthouse, nature center, wildlife watching, and campground provide days of enjoyment on this barrier island. For those that need more, Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Savannah Georgia are within driving distance if you want to venture out for golf, restaurants, fishing, sailing, and many other ways to maximize your time. We took one day and drove to Savannah. The drive was a little further than our kids were ready for and by the end of the day we knew our time would have been better spent biking in Beaufort or spending more time on Hunting Island.





The more we travel, the more we find great locations in the United States. Hunting Island is one of these special places. Here is a link to the state park website:



At the site you can make camping reservations, review maps and brochures providing more details, and learn more about the lighthouse.


What is Special about the Hunting Island State Park Lighthouse?


The lighthouse is 95' tall and was constructed mainly in the winter due to malaria outbreaks in the Summer. Lighthouse keepers made $500 - $700 annually and used the islands natural resources for food. The lighthouse was moved in 1889. Please go to the website if you would like to read how they moved the lighthouse. Here is a direct link to the .pdf as well. It is a quick read and well worth your time if you have interest in lighthouses.


Let us know if you have any questions and thank you for taking the time to read our experience with Hunting Island. .

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