Edisto Island’s Botany Bay
The wildlife management area of Botany Bay Plantation is one of the most unique destinations on Edisto Island. The 4.000+ acre property boasts historical buildings, maritime forest, beach and fresh water ponds. Historically it was two plantations (Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud), that grew sea island cotton and timber. The property is covered in pine, palm and live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. Don’t be surprised to see deer, alligators, shore birds, crabs, raccoons and many other maritime forest creatures.
There are two sites listed on the register of historic places. A set of three surviving 1840s outbuildings and the prehistoric Fig Island Shell Ring can be seen on the property.
Explore the plantation house ruins, walk the forest trails, or stroll the beach on this South Carolina controlled wildlife management area
Botany Bay’s beach is often referred to as “Boneyard Beach”. Sun bleached standing and fallen trees line the beach.
Botany Bay does not allow pets, so you’ll have to leave the furry friends behind. Shell removal is also prohibited.
Botany Bay is open from sunrise to sunset. It is closed Tuesdays and for scheduled hunts.
The plantation is located on Botany Bay Road on Edisto Island. This road is home to the most photographed oak tree canopy in the area. Once in the park, visitors must check in at the information kiosk. A map is available with very informative descriptions of every aspect of the plantation.
When you continue the driving tour you will see a house, pasture and barn on the right. Horse trailers can park and check in here for trail riding. This was the winter home of the last owner of the property. It is currently the DNR property manager’s home.
Just ahead, at the bend in the road, take a right and park to access the beach and Indian Point. A path leads to Hammock Island, a barrier island that is covered in shells. Remember, no shells can be removed. Beach combers get creative with their shell finds and hang them in the palms and oaks along the beach.
Time your walk on the beach with low tide. The beach disappears when the tide rolls in.
After leaving the beach visitors enter what was once the grounds of Bleak Hall Planation. Remaining are two out buildings and a well. The larger white building had multiple purposes, including an ice house, carriage house and general storage. The smaller building was a gardener’s shed. This building is made from tabby, which is made from oyster shells.
Another tabby building sits just past the Bleak Hall home site. It was used as a barn and equipment shed. After proceeding past the barn, visitors can look for wildlife in the agricultural fields. More wildlife viewing can be found past live oak trees that border Ocella Creek.
A cottage chimney that dates to 1893 still stands near Ocella Creek. Picnic Pond is located on the left after the cottage ruins. This pond was dug to build dikes on the property. This is a great spot to view wood ducks and the occasional alligator. Next you cross the dike. On the left isJason’s Lake, and the Ocella Creek is on the right. The road continues left, but you can follow the signs to Sea Cloud Landing on Ocella Creek. Kayaks and canoes can be launched here. Boats must be brought in on car tops. No trailers allowed. Ospreys and eagles hunt here regularly. Pelicans also spend time here.
Sea Cloud Plantation sits on the other side of the dike. Agricultural fields are planted and maintained for wildlife. Just past the fields sits the ruins of the Sea Cloud Plantation house. The brick foundation is all that remains of what was once an elegant home with a ballroom that graced the entire third floor. As the driving tour continues to the other side of Jason’s Lake, the ruins of a bee hive well (that was built around 1825) can be seen.
The road continues through a pine-hardwood forest. When the road ends, a left turn takes you back toward the beach, a right takes you out of the plantation.
Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area is a great place to spend a day. Bring a picnic, beach chairs and kayaks. Explore the wonders of the South Carolina Lowcountry plantation style!