Coastal Expeditions based out of Charleston, SC offers Kayak Tours, Boat Eco Tours, Bulls Island Tours Boneyard Beach Drop, Dolphin Watching Tours and a ton more!
We’ve done kayak trips on Shem Creek and have also done original Bulls Island ferry trip (I was actually 5 months pregnant the last time we went) This time we opted for the Beach Drop, something we’ve been wanting to do for several years now!
this post contains affiliate links
We headed out on a Sunday morning to Bulls Island Ferry at Garris Boat Landing in Awendaw South Carolina.
It is recommended that visitors arrive 30 minutes before the ferry is scheduled to depart to allow for ample time to use the public restrooms (they’re not the nicest or cleanest, just so you know) lather on sunscreen (don’t forget your back, like I did) and make the 10 minute walk from the parking lot to the actual landing.
When it’s time to leave, you’ll be greeted by the First Mate, in our case Olivia, to check in and board the ferry for the 40 minute estuary boat tour to the beach side of Bulls Island.
Advance reservations can be made on the Coastal Expeditions website. Your credit card will hold your spots, you won’t be charged. Payment is due upon arrival at the boat landing.
Olivia, a self-proclaimed “Nature Nerd” has a background in biology and was able to answer any questions we had about the estuary. She pointed out the wildlife and explained what we saw along the way.
We later learned that Olivia also has her Captains license and she drove in to pick us up upon our departure from the island. The ever-friendly, Captain Richard was at the helm for the remainder of the tour.
During the naturalist-guided tour through the estuary, you may see bald eagles, alligators, bobcats, dolphins and otters. On past trips we’ve seen anhinga and even nesting alligator along the way nestled among the oyster reefs.
This time however, we happened to see a beached dolphin laying in the spartina grass that particular day, surrounded by turkey vultures.
Educational Opportunities abound at Boneyard Beach
Olivia informed us that she would report the dolphin later so that they could investigate reasons why it may have beached itself. She also explained something we learned on our recent trip to the Birds of Prey Center, also in Awendaw, SC.
Turkey vultures, while most people see as a nuisance, are actually valuable. Because they feed on rotting animals by the side of the road, or in this case within the estuary, they do the important job of keeping other vermin that can cause disease in humans away, like rodents.
Birds in general do not transfer disease to humans, so we are grateful to the turkey vultures for doing what they do best.
Once we arrived at Bulls Island, we were left to our own devices and told to meet back at the drop-off spot at 6 p.m.
Once we dropped off our bag and laid out towels, we grabbed the mini cooler and walked toward the beach, collecting shells along the way and studying the marine life in the tide pools.
Erosion of the island over the years has what looks like skeletal remains of a forest of Red Cedar and Oak trees, which is where Boneyard Beach gets its name.
There are over 66,000 acres of land Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and you can board the Bulls Island Ferry to explore 6 miles of trails and roads or 7 miles of undeveloped shoreline and get back to nature.
At 4:45 we left Boneyard Beach for a leisurely walk back to where we’d be picked up at 6 p.m.
We saw a jellyfish, some crabs in tidepools and in the ocean, and tons of little fish, whelk shells, clam shells and even stone crab shells.
While we didn’t have any luck finding shark teeth, despite kind of being experts at that, after having been Fossil Hunting in Charleston, Zac did find a fossilized shell!
If you’re visiting Charleston and looking for something off the beaten path, that most visitors never get to see, a trip to Bulls Island with Coastal Expeditions should be on your vacation bucket list!