Sunday, March 11, 2012

And Beach Music, Beach Music, Beach Music Just Plays On!!!

Since June 2007 when Michelle and I relocated our family to the Lowcountry and established the Hammond name in a colorful neighborhood 23 miles west of the shores of the Atlantic Ocean we have experienced many “firsts” as new residents of the Charleston Area. For instance, our first backyard oyster roast, our first tropical storm, kayaking on Shem Creek, and our first neighborhood backyard barbecue and fireworks display on New-Year’s Eve, a holiday traditionally celebrated indoors in our native beloved West Virginia. And even as we draw near to the five-year anniversary of our “BOLD” and “ANXIOUS” act of following our dream of living in the Lowcountry, we still experience “firsts” from time to time. Although for the most part life has settled into a somewhat familiar easiness in between our jobs and responsibilities of day to day life as big people.

Yesterday was one of those days. A rare Saturday with nothing really planned, so when we woke to a beautiful sunny Saturday morning we decided to take a day trip down to Edisto Island, a barrier island that lies just South of Charleston in between Kiawah Island and Hilton Head Island, close enough to be considered a “Charleston” beach, but far enough away to not be an everyday type beach for Charlestonians. We had heard about Edisto Beach long before moving to the area, since some of our friends from West Virginia had family there and frequently visited, and since moving to The Land of Palm Trees, we have wanted to visit, but the opportunity never really presented itself until yesterday. First of all, let me say, as I drove into Edisto Beach I felt like I had truly stepped back in time. Still today, this beautiful stretch of coastline is everything but typical in terms of beach development. Mixed in with the usual oceanfront mansions featuring 10 bedrooms with 4 master-suites that you see up and down the Atlantic Coastline, at Edisto you will be amazed at the predominance of simple ranch style homes elevated on pilings with the beach as their backyard. You know, the kind of houses that you remember from your childhood trips to the beach in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Realize here, I am not talking about third-row from the ocean, I am talking oceanfront here. Also, you won’t find any oceanfront condo units, hotels or villas; at least we didn’t see any on our brief tour of the beach on this windy and chilly March afternoon. Except for a Subway near the town-limits as part of a gasoline station, I didn’t see any national brand eateries, one grocery store, also at the edge of town, a Piggly Wiggly of course. You really have to see this slice of Americana to believe it. In a word, COOL.

But the real reward for our 90 minute drive through rural Dorchester and Charleston County was the chance to visit Botany Bay Plantation located on Edisto Island. Botany Bay is a 5000 acre wildlife management area on the site of two large Lowcountry plantations from the 1800’s. The plantation is a mix of pine-hardwood forests, agricultural fields, salt-marshes and a barrier (hammock) island with an UNBELIEVABLE two mile long bone yard beach, totally undeveloped, untouched and preserved. In fact, in order to reach the beach you park your car in a small sandy parking area and walk on an improved path one-half mile across the salt marsh to the barrier island maritime forest and beach front.

As we entered the forest on the opposite side of the salt marsh, I felt like I was on Gilligan’s Island as the path cut through the forest of live-oaks, various palmetto’s and loblolly pines I could hear the roar of the surf crashing on the beach, I could scarcely anticipate the beauty and wonder that I would experience in just a minute or two.

This is what greeted my eyes as I emerged onto the beach at Botany Bay Plantation.

If driving into Edisto Beach was a step back in time to what beach goers experienced in the halcyon years of the 50’s and 60’s my steps emerging from the lush maritime forest onto the sand and shell covered beach at BBP was a step back in time to what English settlers and slaves from West Africa must have seen as they caught the first glimpse of the South Carolina shoreline back in the 17th century. All I can say is Oh My God, and I mean that reverently as in How Great Thou Art. Michelle’s first words were, “how did they make it this way?” My response to her was “it’s not what THEY made it into; it’s what WE haven’t made it into.” That about says it all, this 2 mile stretch of beach is the antithesis to the sinking Lowcountry that Jimmy Buffet sings about in The Prince of Tides.(Out on Dafuskie Island, the bulldozers bury the past, and the Lowcountry sinks, she cannot swim. The dogwood feels the hurt, while the foursome plays on borrowed days, in their alligator shirts.)

While Botany Bay Plantation represents so much more than just the eroding bone-yard beach, I will reserve that for a future expose, for now, there is really nothing more that I can add, I think the pictures will tell the rest of the story. Enjoy, and if you ever have the opportunity to head south of Charleston to Edisto Island, save some time for a trip to the beach at Botany Bay Plantation.


  1. SHHHHHHHH!!!! You keep giving away the well kept secrets and we're going to have a major influx of folks wanting to move here. Our islands will sink with the weight of them. So keep it on the quiet side.

  2. Botany Bay - one of my favorite places. It is unbelievable.

  3. I have to agree with Rick......We must keep quiet.......It is paradise and I am so lucky to have friends who have a home there. Looking forward to my next visit.


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