The Magic of the Sea Islands and ACE Basin
Is it the sparkling salt water or allure of buried treasure that makes everything seem so magical on the Sea Islands off the coast of Beaufort South Carolina, named America’s Happiest Seaside Town by Coastal Living Magazine? To us, this is a timeless place to live, where gentle waterways weave through swaying grasses as dolphins play. Pirates, farmers and fisherman are all a part of the Sea Islands history going back hundreds of years.
As of this writing, the Gullah/Geechee community is about to begin its 2013 Music and Movement Festival on St. Helena and Hunting Islands. They warmly welcome everyone to bring “chairs, drums, tambourines, and an open spirit” to participate and enhance the celebration. Traditional Gullah/Geechee stories will be brought to life by local storytellers; traditional drummers and dancers will be performing, and a traveling museum with culturally significant exhibits will be showcased at this very distinctive festival. Gullah culture, once isolated, is now found laced throughout the Sea Islands. Residents of Coosaw Point, one of the best Beaufort SC neighborhoods, are a short ride from the festivities and the beautiful Hunting Island beaches.
The Sea Islands are made up of over 100 islands along the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida. All of the islands bring out the day dreamer in the human race. There is magic just looking at the dunes which change constantly from the wind and waves that blow in off the Atlantic Ocean. Winding along the ocean and through saltwater marshes, the islands are rife with indigenous wildlife, migratory birds, sea grasses, maritime forests and more. Residents of Coosaw Point on Lady’s Island are not only familiar with the local shrimpers coming in with the day’s catch, but they also enjoy breathtaking waterfront views of the St Helena Sound. Residents of the happiest Seaside town in America can be seen everyday enjoying the Sea Islands by foot, bike, boat, kayak, or horseback.
There is a wealth of history to be discovered in the Sea Islands. The Gullah are descendants of freed slaves who settled there after the Civil War ended. Today, they keep the traditional culture alive with examples of ancestral crafts and textiles. Among many other historic venues, the islands are home to the Penn Center which was the first school for freed slaves in the South. Some of the islands were also known to be playgrounds for pirates exploring the area. Magic comes alive through the stories of buried treasure on the islands. The history of the islands entices residents and visitors to explore local museums, antebellum plantation homes, and a historic indigo plantation. History comes alive and can be felt on the Sea Islands.
The ACE Basin is 350,000 acres of extraordinary beauty and is known for it’s commitment, through a public-private partnership, to preserve the wetlands largely within view of Coosaw Point, one of the best Beaufort SC neighborhoods. The name of the basin represents three rivers; the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto, all of which flow into St. Helena Sound. Once historic working plantations and ricefields became hunting retreats because of the rich wildlife and waterfowl. The ACE Basin is considered a world class eco-system where on any given day you can find endangered and threatened species such as bald eagles, woodstorks, ospreys, loggerhead sea turtles and shortnose sturgeon.
There are many ways to appreciate the natural beauty of the basin, boating being most obvious. Oars and motors are both advantageous methods for touring the three rivers and tributaries and all of its surrounding wildlife and beauty. Fishing in saltwater and freshwater are popular with sportsmen of Beaufort County. Miles and miles of nature trails and dirt roads await both casual and serious hikers and cyclists. Bird watching is a year-round activity; residents of America’s Happiest Seaside Town can look up and see a nest of bald eagles or ospreys along with a potpourri of smaller gliding birds along the waterfront. If you hunting is your sport, South Carolina offers the longest hunting season in America for hunting deer, turkey, and small game. There is something for everyone to enjoy in the ACE Basin.
It’s hard to explain in words the sense of beauty and magic of the Sea Islands in America’s Happiest Seaside Town. If you’re searching for where to retire in South Carolina, a good start would be with talking with the residents of Coosaw Point located on Lady’s Island.