Hidden gems of the Lowcountry
Story By Rhett Jerrum
We are surrounded by more than just water here in the Lowcountry. There are some of the most beautiful landmarks, historic sites and unique vegetation all around us. With a glass-half-full mentality, use this free time and fluid schedule to get to know the towns we call home. Here are a few hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
Chapel of Convenience
St. Helena Parish Chapel of Ease Ruins
In 1742, St. Helena Parish Chapel of Ease was built to serve planters in the St. Helena Parish who lived far away and could not attend regular services. With a growing population, by 1812 the chapel evolved into a designated parish church. And now in 2020, these walls of shell and lime serve as a beautiful historic site for the people in the Lowcountry. Superstitious visitors beware: These ruins are said to be haunted.
Go there: 17 Lands End Road, St. Helena Island, SC 29920; the Chapel of Ease is nestled between where Martin Luther King Drive becomes Lands End Road.
A patch of paradise located near Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park puts the hidden in hidden gems. It offers locals a wide variety of activities. From the observation deck, enjoy views of the marshes and peep into the home of many fiddler crabs beneath you. Keep walking to the pavilion and enjoy a picnic with your family at the end of the dock. Make your way to the sand for a different type of beach walk.
Go there: 226 Beach City Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926. It’s a short walk through the woods to reach this secret oasis.
Fans of the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Beach” might be interested to know there is a secret spot of pristine sand on Daufuskie Island, only accessible by boat. Very few people know about it, including locals. It’s called Tree Beach, and if you can find it, you won’t be disappointed. We can’t give you exact directions because we can’t have everybody showing up. You have to earn it. Befriend a Daufuskie local and they might show you (if you promise to keep it to yourself).
Go there: Get directions from a Daufuskie local and find a boat to get you there. Just be careful. There are a few characters on Daufuskie that might give you the wrong directions on purpose. If you hit Turtle Island, you’ve gone way too far.
At the north end of Hunting Island, you will find a mile stretch of beach that is home (or grave) to many dead ghost trees. These trees gave up the ghost after many years of exposure to the salty waves crashing on the quickly eroding shore. This is a beautiful sight to see and certainly not one to fear, no matter the title.
Go there: 2555 Sea Island Parkway, Hunting Island, SC 29920
Hit the trail
A little under a mile loop of paved boardwalk, the Cypress Wetlands in Port Royal is well known as a bird watcher’s paradise and will provide you with an afternoon of alligator sightings, local wildlife exposure, and unbeatable views of cypress trees. This protected wetland is open from dusk until dawn and is a great and safe escape into the wild Lowcountry.
Go there: 1700 Paris Ave, Port Royal, SC 29935