Explore a remote barrier island in the south end of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge just north of Charleston, South Carolina. Unlike any other island in the refuge, Bulls Island is 5,000 acres of dense maritime forest, miles of hiking trails, fresh water ponds teeming with wildlife. On the north end of the seven mile long beach is the infamous Boneyard, where the forest has been stranded on the sea shore over time. The monolithic oaks of the Boneyard have been bleached by the sun and weathered by the salt air, rendering them skeletons on the shore.
The bold South Atlantic delivers sand dollars and ocean treasures to the shore constantly. Migratory birds recognize this island's ideal position on the eastern flyway and there are 277 different species of birds categorized seasonally here. The vast estuaries between the island and the mainland are comprised of winding creeks, bays, and sounds bathed in ebbing and flooding salt water. And 29,000 acres of Cape Romain NWR are designated Class One Wilderness Area, emergent lands of the marsh completely untouched by the hands of man. This ecosystem is a champion of biodiversity and is documented as one of the most productive in the world.
The only way to get there is by boat and access is limited. Through special cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and with support from the leadership of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge we have arranged access to this barrier island for a multi-day immersion event. On island lodging is in the historic Dominick House, all meals and transportation are provided, and guide service is excellent. Spaces are limited.
The name of this place is Bulls Island...However Bulls Island is less of a place and more of an experience.
Bulls Island Multi-Day Expedition Itinerary
Coastal South Carolina is home to some of the most unique wilderness ecosystems in the country, teeming with diverse wildlife and untouched shorelines. The Dominick House on Bulls Island, inside Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, will serve as our expedition headquarters and lodging on this weekend adventure as we explore miles of undeveloped beachfront and over 4000 acres of pristine maritime forest.
In addition to boat excursions, our primary opportunities will be hiking the beaches and dense coastal forests, home to a myriad of wildlife including over 290 species of birds. We will explore the estuaries of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, focusing on Bulls Island. Our local naturalist guides are a wealth of knowledge for natural and human history of this coastline. Moreover, they prepare truly gourmet meals! Join us on this engaging weekend excursion as we provide unmatched access to, and expert interpretation of, one of the most stunning and diverse coastlines on the planet.
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance.
Day 1Welcome to Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most amazing coastlines in the nation.
Meet 10:00 am at Sewee Environmental Education Center for a welcome presentation from USFWS staff followed by a trip orientation. After the orientation period we will shuttle a short distance to Garris Landing to board the Bulls island Ferry. After boarding the ferry, we will journey through the salt marsh estuary on our way out to the barrier island chain, destination Bulls Island. This is one of the most super bio-diversified ecosystems on the planet. Although we cannot guarantee seeing dolphins, we have spotted them at some point on all departures to date, and they are certainly not shy. The focus of the trip today is biodiversity and the fragile marine ecosystems. We should expect to see over 30 different avian species en route to the Dominick House. The ecosystems of this barrier islands are almost completely undeveloped and truly feel otherworldly. We will make ourselves at home and have the opportunity for naturalist guided beach and forest exploration. Our communal dinner will be followed by a guided group discussion and itinerary review for the following day. We will enjoy the bright starry sky, far from light pollution, and listen to the crashing waves of the bold Atlantic before tucking into bed for the night.
Day 2Today the sunrise finds us on Bulls Island, a wilderness area relatively unchanged and unaltered by man.
Our first full day on the island will begin with a beautiful ocean sunrise and optional morning yoga, followed by fresh breakfast. Today we will explore the pristine Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and our destination is Boneyard Beach. The Bulls Island experience includes maritime forest hiking as we explore the vast stretches of beach and inland trails and ponds (alligator spotting guaranteed). The birding should be excellent as we move through the dynamic edges between ecosystems separating the forest from the sea. Human history and its integral connection to natural history will be our focus today as we explore the original landing spot of the ships that first landed here on their way to settle Charlestowne, and where they were greeted by the Sewee Native American tribe in 1670. We will conclude our day by returning to the Dominick House, our island lodge. Our locally sourced cooked dinner will be followed by a guided group discussion and itinerary review for the following day. Once again far from light pollution and any noise from civilization, ready for a comfortable bed and good night's sleep.
Day 3Explore the flora and fauna of a barrier island and discover its intricate geology.
Today we will again begin with optional sunrise yoga followed by fresh breakfast. We will continue to immerse ourselves as we explore barrier island geology, focusing on the transgressional migration of the land mass itself towards the main land. While we are hiking the island, we will explore the intimate relationship between island, estuary and ocean. Surrounded by a diverse array of bird life, playful dolphins, allusive alligators and untouched shoreline, it is easy to picture what early life was like in this warm subtropical paradise. Following our morning exploration on the island we will return to our island lodge for final lunch together, reflecting on the magnificently natural places we have explored. We will again board the Bulls Island Ferry and wind through the estuary on our journey back to the main land. After a final trip wrap up we bid a fond farewell to our fellow adventurers. Ending time will be no later than 14:00 EST.
Professional guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; 2 nights accommodations; boat transportation to and from island
Transportation from your hometown to the Sewee Center in Awendaw, SC; additional snacks; guide gratuities; items of a personal nature
The following fees apply and are due to Coastal Expeditions at the time we receive written notice of your cancellation.
Activity Level: Participants should be ready to walk several miles on inland trails and shoreline each day. Motor transport is limited to boating to the island and vehicle support for luggage to the Dominick House.