I’m often asked the question how I choose the locations for my adventures, and each time I proffer this response: it all depends on what I am hoping to shoot on my photographic safaris. On this particular venture, I yearned once again to smell the salty sea air, feel the wind in my face and witness the sunrise on or near wild, pristine Hunting Island.
Through the years of watching sunrises and sunsets, I am amazed that no two are ever the same. The colors, particularly in fall, winter or spring skies, can be particularly spectacular and when water is added into the photographic mix, the visual experiences can be one of a kind. As I studied my maps, my gaze strayed upon the little dot labeled Port Royal. In the not too distant past, I visited that area to sample the fabled cuisine of 11th Street Dockside Restaurant, truly a legend where fine seafood is served, unparalleled for their cornbread and she-crab soup.
So, as any modern day adventurer would do, I did an internet search of the town to see what she had to offer curious seaside visitors such as myself who want to find quiet, less trammeled locations for respite. I also happened to make the acquaintance, via email, of the town manager, Van Willis, who answered my queries quite promptly. By visiting their nicely done website, www.portroyal.org, one can learn more about the rich history of Port Royal, with known dates of early explorers coming to the area in 1514. By 1525, Spanish explorers were using the area as their major anchorage and tried to make it the center of their new empire.
To quote their website, Port Royal lies “within the heart of a biologically rich estuarine ecology.” Nestled perfectly within the downtown area is their Bird Sanctuary and Preserve, complete with boardwalk and trails spanning approximately 0.6 miles, an easy walk for most nature lovers. Yet along this walk, which edges past the Old Village, one may see a myriad of song birds or waterfowl drawn to the waters and woodlands contained within the park. Hearing the sound of grackles, and calls of sojourning mergansers and American Coots brought back wonderful memories of the Florida inter-coastal waterways where I grew up. To see more, go to http://portroyal.org/pdf/cypress_wetlands.pdf .
And if that isn’t enough to whet the naturalist’s appetite for hidden treasures, one doesn’t have to drive too far beyond the edge of town to find Sands Beach, a small, but beautiful location from which to walk along the boardwalk or climb the observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the scenic Beaufort River. http://thesandsportroyalsc.com
Arriving in the dim false dawn of my photo shoot, I made my way along the boardwalk and climbed the observation tower to watch the new day dawn over this beautiful portion of the Beaufort River known as Battery Creek. From the vantage point of this wonderful observation tower, I captured some beautiful photos of the sunrise and local boaters launching at dawn for a day of fishing. http://www.scgreatoutdoors.com/park-sandsbeach.html
What I found most attractive about Port Royal was the small-town feel present while strolling the downtown area with its beautiful buildings, the attention to the preservation of their history and their endeavor to blend the natural beauty of their coastal surroundings into the very heart of the town itself. Port Royal is truly one of South Carolina’s Hidden Treasures.
Date of Port Royal visit: Jan. 20, 2013