Bulls Island is one of South Carolina’s most remote areas and anyone curious enough to visit this place will be welcomed by the wonders of the wilderness. Beautiful is an understatement to describe the place: it’s a haven for animals and for travelers who want time off.

This barrier island is part of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Given the area’s teeming wildlife, travelers who enjoy nature trips are in for a treat, whether they are aboard a boat or trekking on the island. Home to lots of wildlife species, this natural wonder offers surprises for the eager and solitude for the restless.


Plan The Visit To Bulls Island

The island is accessible only via a ferry that departs from Garris Landing in Awendaw. From the harbor, expect a 30-minute ride that serves as an ecotour, too. Here’s some information to prepare for a visit.

  • The summer schedule runs from March 1 to November. The boat is operational from Tuesday to Saturday and departs at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Return trips are every 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • The winter schedule is from December 1 to February 8. Boat trips are every Saturday only. Departure time is 10 a.m. while the return trip is 3:30 p.m.
  • Tickets for adults cost $40, and $20 for ages 3 to 12.
  • Reservation is a must, especially for those who will avail of tours. Guests are encouraged to arrive early, too.

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Things To Do On Bulls Island

The ride to the island is a tour in itself, as a teaser of what’s more to come. On Bulls Island, there’s a wide (and wild) selection of activities to try, all filled with fun times with Mother Nature.

Paddling Paradise

A paddling trip in the pristine waters of the refuge will let travelers enjoy the wonders that seclusion brings. Matching that with a hike will make a day trip memorable. Land or sea, this $115-tour is worth every penny.

  • There will be a kayak tour where birds and raptors can be seen. Lucky if a dolphin plays along.
  • Landing on the island's north end, travelers will start their hike through the Boneyard Beach, a forest area slowly being reclaimed by the sea.
  • In the heart of the island, a guided tour will inspire tourists about the ecosystem and history of the place, all the while spotting colorful birds.
  • After a day of paddling and walking, travelers can relax aboard a boat cruise that will take them back to Garris Landing, drinking in all the sights of the refuge before bidding goodbye.

Boating Bonanza

Thanks to the salt marsh, the refuge is the perfect spot for boating trips. By wading through the waters, travelers are given the chance to reconnect with nature. And maybe say hi to some pelicans. Arriving on the beach, adventure awaits.

  • The 30-minute tour costs $40 for adults and $20 for kids. The tour serves as transport to the island.
  • From Garris Landing, the crew will share information about the wilderness and the refuge as the boat navigates its way along creeks.
  • Aboard, there's a display of an alligator skull and turtle ribs which guests can examine.

Sunrise Sojourn

Exploring the island before sunrise is an unmatched experience. Worth $60, the three-hour trip will let travelers enjoy the refuge's sleepy surprises. What a good morning.

  • The sunrise is best viewed from Boneyard Beach during low tide.
  • The trip welcomes photographers who want to take magical shots of the rising sun, the calming waves, and the picturesque beach.
  • Birdwatchers can also enjoy taking notes as migratory birds, storks, plovers, and other winged friends start their day.
  • Prepare some bags, too, because beachcombers are sure to find sea treasures like whelks, sand dollars, olives, and other shells.

Island Surprises

How about a multi-day journey on the island? For $545, adventurers can do just that. There’s enough time to take it all in.

  • Weekend warriors will be led by guides who will bring them to the island's pristine spots.
  • Aside from spotting egrets, herons, and waterfowls, travelers can track deer and bobcats, too.
  • Tourists will also traverse the ever-changing Boneyard Beach and hike by ponds where alligators thrive.
  • Aside from ecological learnings, visitors will also have their share of history lessons about the Native Americans who frequented the place many years ago.

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Things To See

The Bulls Island is a treasure box of nature’s treats so travelers should keep their eyes peeled. From critters to wild plants, the island keeps on giving.

Nature Spots

The natural habitats in the refuge are home to lots of species and are ideal resting spots for tired eyes. Not just Instagrammable, the island's ecosystem spells majesty.

  • The salt marsh and wetlands are teeming with plants, fish, and other wildlife species, serving as a food basin for the animals and as recreational spots for visitors.
  • The forest area is home to towering trees and it's the perfect area for wildlife viewing. Hikers will enjoy the trip, thanks to the shade and greens.
  • The beach of the barrier island is the first to welcome guests, serving as the launchpad for a wilderness saga.

Flora And Fauna

Here are some of the species that can be seen in the refuge, which is considered as the longest stretch of protected coastline on the East Coast.

  • Aside from migratory birds, there are 293 recorded bird species, specifically, wading birds, shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, and other waterfowls.
  • Over 30 reptile and amphibian species can be seen wandering this refuge. Say hello to loggerhead sea turtles.
  • There are over 30 species of mammals recorded here, and the island once served as a breeding ground for red wolves.
  • Spartina thrives on the island, along with flowering plants, succulents, saltgrass, saltbush, and the list goes on.

Bulls Island is where the wild things are, and visiting this magical place will satisfy playful kids, curious learners, nature lovers, and families and friends who want to have a good time outdoors. The island and the refuge serve as Mother Nature’s spokesperson: come one, come all, the water’s fine.

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