Hunting Island State Park: A Guide to Beaches, Camping, and Wildlife

Hunting Island State Park is a 5000-acre semitropical barrier island located 15 miles east of Beaufort, South Carolina.

It was named one of America’s Top Ten Beaches by TripAdvisor, and it attracts over a million visitors every year. Despite its popularity, the miles of white sand beach remain pristine and uncrowded.

Visitors to Hunting Island State Park can enjoy miles of hiking trails through the maritime forest, fishing in Fripp Inlet, the lagoon, and the ocean, a Nature Center with live animal exhibits, a camping area with easy access to the beach, and a recently updated Visitor Center with murals of the ecosystems on Hunting Island.

A deer at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolia
Hunting Island State Park

One of the least talked about features of Hunting Island State Park is the drive through the sub-tropical maritime forest as visitors leave the front gate after entering the park.

It is one of the most awe-inspiring three-minute car rides in the entire Lowcountry, and it feels like driving on a winding road through the Amazon or on the set of Jurassic Park during its filming.

General Information

  • The park has several rules and regulations that visitors must follow. Alcoholic beverages, fireworks, and explosives are not allowed, and visitors are not allowed to feed, approach, or harass wildlife.
  • Fires must be contained within designated camping fire rings, and pets are allowed on the beach and in the camping area but not in the buildings. Pets must be constrained or on a leash not more than 6’ in length, and they may not disturb wildlife, guests, or habitat.
  • No live animals or plants (including sand dollars) may be collected, and metal detectors are not permitted near the lighthouse grounds.
  • The beach at Hunting Island State Park is a major attraction, and visitors are advised to bring their own food and drinks as these are not supplied on the beach. Snacks and drinks are available at the Lighthouse Gift Shop, and insect repellent and sunscreen are also available there.
  • Visitors are also advised to bring their own beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, and sand toys. Only North Beach has lifeguards during the summer months, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the beach.
  • Visitors are also advised to stay off sand dunes, sand fences, and sea oats, and to leave nothing behind but their footprints.
  • The park has several trails that visitors can explore, but there are no restroom facilities along the trails, so visitors should use facilities before they start. They should also bring sunscreen and insect repellent with them, and binoculars might be useful. Visitors can check out trail information on the Hunting Island map.
  • Accessibility is a priority at Hunting Island State Park. Improved parking areas, handicap accessible restrooms, and beach accesses that include “Mobi-Mats” allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy the park.
  • Many of the hiking trails were widened and paved with a mixture of sand and shell to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • All-terrain wheelchairs can easily negotiate many of the trails, and Friends of Hunting Island and Beaufort County A-Tax funding constructed new accessible changing stations and shower towers at three public beach access locations.

For current park hours and fees plus campsite reservations and information, visitors can check the Hunting Island State Park website or call 843.838.2011.

Park hours are from 6 AM to 6 PM daily (extended to 9 PM during Daylight Saving Time), and office hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM (Monday – Friday) and from 11 AM to 5 PM (Saturday – Sunday).

The park fees are $8 for adults, $5 for SC Seniors, $4 for youth aged 6-15, and free for ages 5 and younger.