There was a time when I was younger, going to the beach meant baking in the sun for hours on end. I’ll always be a sunworshiper, but now that I’m (much) older and wiser, my favorite thing to do at the beach is beach comb! Yes, there is always that voice in the back of my mind that convinces me that today will be the day I find a true treasure. A message in a bottle, a valuable gem or Spanish doubloon. So far I have found none of the above. What I have found is a treasure far more valuable than any tangible thing. The awe-inspiring beauty of God’s creation leaves me speechless. No matter the season or the time of day, when I walk the beach it’s as if I have never before witnessed the magnificent wonder of the world around me. I am rewarded with a feeling of peace and serenity. My soul is restored and I am invigorated. Whether I am alone or amongst a crowd, there is something spiritual for me about the ocean. But because of my competitive nature, I will continue to search for the pirate gold (as a bonus!!!!)
With that said…..when I heard about a place that was isolated and completely undeveloped, where the shells were abundant, and the beauty unsurpassed, I was all ears!
The place is Bulls Island (also known as Bull Island) and it is within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. (Awendaw, SC) One outfitter, Coastal Expeditions has been granted the contract to provide public access to the refuge. Visit their website to read more detailed information with a complete list of what to expect and what to bring for a successful day! It is probably a good idea to make reservations ahead of time, especially in the summer. Whatever you do…..allow plenty of time to get to the ferry dock! They won’t wait! Take it from me, I learned the hard way! One time we just had to stop for coffee, detoured just a few minutes, but that’s all it took …… we saw the ferry pulling away from the dock just as we were pulling into the parking lot! Once you do arrive on time, you will board the passenger ferry and embark on a 30 minute ecotour through a pristine estuary. This in itself is a treat. The captain and first mate are passionate about what they do. Extremely knowledgeable, they’re informative, friendly and humorous —– I have learned something new every single time I go! It’s quite possible to see dolphins and if you’re lucky you may even see a loggerhead sea turtle. As their website states it is the most significant nesting site north of Florida
Once the ferry docks, with 293 species of birds, 16 miles of maintained trails and roads, and part of the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline on the eastern seaboard, the island is yours to explore!! Photography opportunities galore! Visit Alligator Alley, which by the way, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge has the unique distinction of having the most condensed population of American alligators north of the everglades! Experience Boneyard Beach, especially at low tide. It’s as if you have stepped back in time to prehistoric days. It’s a sight like no other.
It sounds as if I should be doing a commercial for Coastal Expeditions! I’m not! Honestly, I love it that much. It is not officially summer until we take our annual trip to Bulls Island. I’m not gonna lie, I love shelling. The first time I visited, it was my mom and I. We had high hopes of finding some incredible shells. The web site states that each person is permitted to take one small bag of shells with them. (Of course no living creatures…all shells must be empty) Nothing else can be removed. No driftwood or any other artifact that you may find. We laughed at ourselves as we packed our back pack the night before. Would we have enough bags to carry back all our treasures? I had warned my mom, no dillydallying, I wanted to get to the beach quick, before all the shells got taken!! We trekked down (at record speed) the 2 mile path to the beach. No sooner had our feet hit the sand, I hear my mom say “how about this one?” I turn around and she is holding this enormous, ancient looking conch shell! I was like whaaaat????? I knew it was going to be a good day!! To this day she thinks I staged it there for her to find!! Which would be completely impossible!
That was definitely the find of the day. By the time we arrived home and displayed our treasures for all to see, we were ready to collapse! We found out that day just exactly how heavy shells are! Forgetting we had to trek back the two miles to the ferry dock, I’m thankful for the one bag limit.
think know I have more than enough shells now, so my next trip I plan to take my photography gear and focus on getting some great pictures and leaving the shelling to some other beach lover!
I apologize for the cell phone photographs!