Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area is a must see treasure on Edisto Island, SC. It is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and encompasses over 4600 acres. It’s an easily found, one hour drive south from Charleston. Admission and parking is free. The preserve was once the sites of Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud Plantations. Surviving structures of Bleak Hall Plantation are three Gothic Revival out- buildings, which include a wooden ice house, a tabby garden shed and barn. All that remains of Sea Cloud Plantation are its brick ruins. There are trails throughout the maritime forest, where you can enjoy bird and other wildlife watching as well as an accessible kayak and canoe launch with lovely views of the sea island marshes.
In my opinion, the most spectacular area at Botany Bay is its Boneyard beach. It’s comprised of a dream-like mixture of palmettos and oaks that have been claimed by the sea. These numerous, sun bleached trees line the ocean front.
There are five very important things to know when visiting here. First, there is a strict, no shell collection policy. Don’t even attempt it! ($470 fine will await you). Second, timing your visit with the tide is essential. Enjoyment of a walk on the beach where the “boneyard” of trees are is only accessible at low tide. Third, alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Fourth, what you bring in, you must take out. Lastly, there are no restrooms here. When nature calls, you must rough it! Easier for some than others, so plan accordingly.
The entrance gate opens at 6 am and closes automatically at 8 pm. No need to panic because you won’t be locked inside the grounds. An automatic sensor will lift the gate in order for your car to exit. Note that he WMA is closed on Tuesdays and at other times for “special hunts”, so check before you visit.
Directions: From Charleston, proceed to US 17 South for 23 miles then turn left onto State Road S-10-174. Stay on 174 for 26 miles, then turn left onto Botany Bay Road. The entrance to the preserve is one mile. The drive takes about an hour.