Bull Island is part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. There is one house and a couple of public restrooms there, but the rest of the island is undeveloped. There are dirt roads and freshwater ponds throughout the island. It is a great place for birding, hiking, fishing, or enjoying a beach with no development at all. Overnight camping is not allowed.
We had a perfect fall day for this trip. We arrived at Garris Landing, about 20 miles north of Charleston, at 8am. The tide was full at 7am, so we had a neutral to falling tide for the paddle to the island. We followed the route used by the ferry which is only about 4.5 miles. We had clear blue sky, a mild wind, and cool temps.
The paddle out became interesting in two places where the tide was running one way and the wind blowing the other. We had some decent waves to splash through and surf.
We landed beside the refuge boat dock and pulled the boats up on to the access road. This is an easy access point at high tide; it gets a little gooey at low tide, as we would discover.
We were warned in advance and were partially prepared, but the mosquitoes were ferocious! We used a lot of Deet that day.
We hiked through the woods and out to the beach, which was only about 1.5 miles. As far as we could see in both directions, there was no one else there. We hiked another mile or so to Boneyard Beach, so named because it is covered with dead trees where the beach has eroded into the forest. It is a starkly beautiful place. We enjoyed lunch in the bright sunshine without being hot.
From there, we walked a road back to the boats, through swarms of mosquitoes. We saw an alligator with her brood in one of the ponds, a large black snake, and several birds.
The trip back was at low tide and very uneventful except for bogging through several inches of mud to float the boats.
It was a great trip to a beautiful place and we plan to return in the winter and hopefully miss the mosquitoes.
From Charleston, go north on US 17 towards Georgetown. The road to the landing is on the right about 10 miles outside Mt. Pleasant. It is across from the Seewee Restaurant, a good place for seafood.
Good launching from Garris Landing. You can land on the island at the ferry landing or on the beach on both ends. NOTE: Garris Landing is only open during daylight hours.
Coastal Expeditions Map; available to buy on-line.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean