The Sea Islands are a chain of tidal and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the Southeastern United States. Numbering over 100, they are located between the mouths of the Santee and St. Johns Rivers along the coast of the US states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. ~ Wikipedia
I knew of several Islands along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts but never knew them as the Sea Islands until I moved here. I hope to share a bit of what I learn about this area with you, and together we’ll discover some of what makes the Sea Islands so special.
A Sea Island home
Several different people groups called these islands home throughout history. Indigenous tribes inhabited the islands before the French and Spaniards came here in the 1500s. The English took control next and then lost it to the upstart American colonists. After the American Civil War, former slaves gained control of the land through Sherman’s “40 acres and a mule” decree. These were the Gullah Geechee people of West African descent. And although recent land development projects have eroded Gullah ownership, many of their descendants still live here today.
In 2016, I moved my family to one of the smaller of these islands, Harbor Island, South Carolina. While I’ll write of what I know from living here, I’ll try not to focus too much attention Harbor Island. There are far too many treasures spread throughout the Sea Islands to ignore them. And I hope to discover many of them with you here. Because proximity and budget demand it, the focus may initially be closer to home than not. Even so, plenty of adventure and new discoveries await on my little island alone. And having Hunting Island and St. Helena Island neighboring me offers plenty of interesting people and places to write about.
Harbor Island is located 15 miles East of historic Beaufort and about 20 miles up the coast from Hilton Head Island. Harbor Island and neighboring Hunting Island were both used primarily as hunting grounds throughout recorded history. Developers began transforming Harbor Island in the 1930s. The South Carolina government owns the majority of Hunting Island and uses it as a state park.
If you’re looking for a tropical paradise with crystal-clear water, keep looking. The marshes and the pluff mud keep the waters less than clear. But the weather is better than most places I’ve been. You simply can’t beat the fresh seafood available at local markets. And I’ll take these quiet shores on the Atlantic over a crowded beach any day.
The name Sea Island Treasures may bring notions of pirate stories to mind. Many infamous pirates were known to frequent these waters: Stede Bonnet, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Calico Jack, and even Blackbeard! But we will not focus on any speculation of buried chests hidden in the tidal rivers or maritime forests of the area. Of course, it might come up in casual conversation with the locals. We’ll see…
I really don’t know where to begin when describing all the treasure available here in the Sea Islands. The people, wildlife, flora, history, beaches, fishing, travel opportunities, unique products, and…the views! The rich cultural history of the Gullah Geechee people permeates the entire Sea Island chain. Several key Revolutionary and Civil War battles happened here. About 20,000 marine recruits call nearby Parris Island their home for at least 13 weeks. And I know that list will grow as I discover more about my new home. I hope you’ll hang around and discover it with me…and maybe even consider a visit here yourself!
I don’t make any claims to teach anything to anyone on this site. My only purpose is to document my own education about the Sea Islands. If someone else can benefit from the information as well, all the better. Where I can, I will point you to other resources with more in-depth information. Please contact me if you want to know something specific about the area and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. If I don’t know, I’ll point you to someone who can better help you.