Drop Anchor

Drop Anchor

June 3, 2024

Categories: Legends Magazine

Photography by Lawson Builder
Story by Hailey Wist

The South Carolina Lowcountry is a mosaic of ecosystems, a geological symphony of wild islands, abundant estuaries, and a labyrinth of meandering rivers and creeks. Kiawah Island is folded into this uncommon coastline, the crown jewel of the lowlands. It is a landscape ruled by tides, by the daily ebb and flow of the Atlantic. With the Kiawah River meandering along its northern edge and the Atlantic against its south-facing shore, the Island is defined by water. The way water moves through the landscape influences how we experience this Island. It offers a place to watch the sunset from the docks, picnic in the sand, wade into gentle waves, and explore, paddle, and fish. Here, we can commune with nature.

Folly River Mouth

Neighboring Folly Island spans about five square miles and stretches diagonally from northeast to southwest. Like Kiawah, Folly encompasses a diverse range of beaches, marshes, and maritime forests. While its town center is often bustling, the southern end of the Island is still wild and pristine, the well-kept secret of boaters. At this far end of the Island, there is a narrow strip of high ground surrounded by an expanse of marsh and tidal sandbars teeming with life. Hunt for shark teeth and shells, or bring a picnic to enjoy at low tide. From this vantage point, you can look across to the Stono Inlet at Bird Key. The Stono Seabird Sanctuary is one of only three sanctuaries designated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and is an essential nesting and resting ground for migratory birds.

Sandy Point

Sandy Point, a white sand beach at the eastern tip of Kiawah Island, feels a world apart. Dense maritime scrub covers a narrow strip of high ground that separates Penny Creek and the Stono River. This perfect sandy beach is a favorite summer destination of boaters, shell hunters, and sunbathers from the nearby islands. In the winter it is quieter, a haven for shorebirds feeding at low tide and various crab species—sand fiddler, ghost crabs, and even the odd horseshoe crab—gathered at the confluence of creek and river. It is a magical spot, like something out of a storybook, and the perfect place to anchor and wade ashore. There are shells and sand dollars hidden in the dunes, a wide expanse of hard-packed sand for taking in the South Carolina sun, and a deep spot for swimming.

Rhett’s Bluff Boat Dock

This boat ramp and deepwater dock is the perfect jumping-off point for high adventure in the Lowcountry. Tucked away in the Rhett’s Bluff neighborhood just east of River Course, this amenity is a hidden gem. With a picnic pavilion, expansive dock, and convenient bathrooms, the Rhett’s Bluff boat launch serves as a home base for exploring the Kiawah River and beyond. It is also a great place to cast a net for mullet and shrimp or to drop a line to catch a redfish, flounder, or sea trout. In the evenings, residents stroll in pairs down the long dock to watch the sunset over the Lowcountry marsh.

The Kiawah River

The Kiawah River meanders along the northern edge of the Island, carving a path through the vast salt marsh system from the Stono River to Captain Sams Inlet to the west. Small hammock islands dot the marsh landscape, wild islands no bigger than an acre. The Kiawah River is home to a resident dolphin pod known to approach smaller crafts and put on a show. While this picturesque river is a conduit, connecting the Kiawah River with the greater barrier island ecosystem, it can be a destination in itself. Drop anchor for a swim or a snack!