(Above photo: Photographer David M. Shipper captured this stunning sunrise over the Beaufort River. The 14th annual Beaufort River Swim, a competitive 3.2-mile open water swim, is set for June 6. The water is usually in the mid- to upper-70s. Sign up at beaufortriverswim.com.)
Beautiful water is not hard to find here in the Lowcountry. In addition to the mighty Atlantic Ocean in our backyard, we are blessed with many magnificent rivers, creeks and waterways flowing in and around our towns. If you’re looking to get closer to nature or for a place to experience your next water adventure, these are five of the most adored waters — aesthetically, economically, and culturally — in our neighborhood.
A tidal treasure – Beaufort River
What was once a vessel for the transportation of crops to European markets in the 1700s, the Beaufort River remains important to this area in new ways. Lined with tall marsh grass and home to fiddler crabs, oysters, herons, and osprey, this waterway is a great place to paddle through and explore the deep history of Beaufort.
Experience it: Have a seat on one of the wooden swings at Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort and watch the boats go by. The Woods Memorial Bridge swings on its central axis to open for boat traffic that is too tall to clear the bridge.
Beautiful backdrop – May River
The May River is considered a local treasure of the Lowcountry. Winding through the Old Town area of Bluffton, this waterway is an idyllic scene of oak canopies, marshes and wetlands. The May encapsulates history and beauty for miles. This tributary was the beautiful backdrop for the wedding of Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin last October.
Experience it: Have a seat on the grassy bluff next to Church of the Cross, or get even closer by walking down to the Calhoun Street Public Dock.
A bird-watcher’s paradise – Colleton River
The Colleton River is home to 2,000 acres of natural beauty. Surrounded by live oaks and palm trees, it provides a unique beauty that can be only found in the Lowcountry. The natural life is plentiful as the Colleton River is home to eagles, herons and a multitude of saltwater species alike. A bird-watcher’s paradise or a fisherman’s watering hole is at your fingertips by the Colleton River.
Experience it: Launch your favorite boat from H.E. Trask Sr. Boat Landing at the end of Sawmill Creek Road in Bluffton. Suddenly, you will find yourself surrounded by lush green sea grass as osprey soar overhead and dolphins folic in the water around your boat.
Adventure awaits – Broad Creek
This tidal creek is where adventure seekers come to play. Between dolphin cruises and deep sea fishing expeditions, this area has everything you need for an exciting day on the water. Nestled inside the charming island of Hilton Head, Broad Creek sits below Cross Island Parkway and serves as a breathtaking drive-by view and water-sport hub.
Experience it: Rent a kayak from Outside Hilton Head and paddle out to see a great variety of wildlife, including dolphins, egrets, herons and pelicans.
Peaceful getaway – Hunting Island Lagoon
Since becoming a state park in 1935, Hunting Island is frequently at the top of the most-visited state parks list. Its beauty is featured in national publications and was the filming location of the movie Forrest Gump.
Experience it: Walk the Lagoon Access Recreation Trail (1.4 miles, easy), starting in the “J” parking area. Bring your favorite camera and fishing pole but leave your worries behind.