Hunting Island State Park is nestled thirty minutes east of Beaufort in Beaufort County on the beautiful Atlantic coast state of South Carolina. It's also arguably the state's most popular state park. More than a million visitors head to this diverse barrier island in the maritime forest to discover the hiking trails, lay on the beautiful beaches, and see the historic lighthouse.
The park features thousands of acres of maritime forest and marsh, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet, as well as five miles of gorgeous coastline. Tucked in between Fripp Island and Fripp Inlet on the south and Harbor Island and Harbor River on the north, this low country sea island is a gorgeous place to add to your bucket list when you visit South Carolina (or North Carolina).
The Hunting Island Lighthouse
This famous lighthouse is actually the only one in South Carolina that is open to the public. Take in panoramic views of the Atlantic Coast and the vast parklands from the top. The original structure of the lighthouse was constructed in 1859, was destroyed during the Civil War, and re-built in 1875.
Interestingly, it was built of interchangeable cast-iron sections to be taken apart should it ever have to be removed. The lighthouse was relocated 1.3 miles inland in 1889. Pro-tip: You must be at least 44" tall to climb the lighthouse.
Things To Do at Hunting Island State Park
When you visit the state park, you can fish in Johnson Creek, the lagoon, the beach, or the fishing pier, located on the park's southern tip. The fishing pier is 1,120 feet long and makes its way into Fripp Inlet. Fishing equipment is available for purchase at the store in the campground. Check when you visit to see if crabbing and fishing are allowed at the time.
Hiking Trails & Biking
The state park has an eight-mile-long biking and hiking trail to explore for a leisurely and beautiful stroll. There are also designated nature trails, including the Campground Access trail (1 mile), Lighthouse Trail (0.3 miles), and the Marsh Boardwalk NRT (0.4 miles).
Kayaking & Boating
Boating access is available at the boat ramp on the south end of the park. The ramp offers access to the Harbor River and Fripp Inlet.
Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean is allowed at your own risk (no lifeguards are on duty).
Camping at the Park
Campers will appreciate 100 campsites to choose from to stay overnight at the park. All campsites have electrical hookups, water and provide access to bathrooms and a bathhouse with showers. Reservations must be made online, and there is a two-night minimum for camping.
Other activities at the park include geocaching, horseback riding, playgrounds, beach volleyball, and birding.
Planning Your Visit
Visit the nature center to inquire about educational programs and learn more about the South Carolina Low Country. The campground is where you will find the park store and gift shop, which sells limited grocery items, souvenirs, snacks, and drinks. There is also a gift shop at the Lighthouse located on North Beach, which is open during peak season.
The park is open from 6 AM to 6 PM and extended to 9 PM during daylight savings. The admission fee for the park is $8 for adults, $5 for South Carolina seniors, $4 for children ages 6 to 15, and free for children 5 and younger. The highlight admission fee is $2/person. Wi-Fi is available at the Visitor Center.
Buying a Parks Pass
Buy a South Carolina Department Of Parks Passport to save money and support the parks while visiting the State Parks of South Carolina. You can also donate to Friends of Hunting Island to help preserve this undeveloped barrier island. Here is a list of frequently asked questions about visiting Hunting Island State Park.
Other Nearby Attractions
- Port Royal
- Myrtle Beach State Park
- Hilton Head Island
- Huntington Beach State Park
Enjoy reading about the open road?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.