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ROAD TRIPS | 2013 Carolinas Travel Guide

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Coastal wildlife

Need a wild time on the S.C. coast?

Bulls Island, near Awendaw. Here’s your chance to play Robinson Crusoe. Bulls Island, a former hunting preserve, is an oceanfront part of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge ( www.fws.gov/caperomain). It’s open daylight hours only; most get there via the Garris Landing ferry: arrive 30 minutes before 9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. departure; return at noon or 4 p.m. (Cost/schedule: www.bullsislandferry.com). Only wildlife lives on Bulls – egret, heron, ibis, pelican, deer, gators, etc. Well-maintained trails wind through the thickets and marshes; dress for bug encounters. Hike Old Fort Trail to Boneyard Beach, a wildly beautiful shore where bleached tree stumps look like dinosaur bones.

On the mainland, 4 miles north of the U.S. 17 turnoff to the ferry, tour Cape Romain NWR’s Seewee Visitor Center ( www.fws.gov/seweecenter) for free.

Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, near Georgetown ( http://1.usa.gov/15R9TTr) . This 20,000-acre gem of a sanctuary just south of Myrtle Beach is named for the owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team who made it happen. Yawkey spent winters on what was a family-owned hunting preserve on three low and swampy islands south of Georgetown, between Winyah Bay and the mouth of the slow-moving Santee River. When he died in 1976, the holdings were willed to South Carolina DNR, for preservation as a limited-use wildlife refuge.

The islands have attracted more than 250 species of fowl, from turkeys to storks to falcons. It’s on the Atlantic Flyway, a major seasonal migration route for birds in the Eastern United States. Longleaf pines in the inland maritime forests draw the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker; terns and pelicans head for the preserve’s undisturbed shores.

Its public season is limited to mid-September through mid-May: Only group tours are available; while they’re free of charge, reservations are required – and demand far outstrips availability.

Call a season in advance; if you’re placed on the waiting list; you will have priority over incidental callers when cancellations arise.

Besides insect repellent, bring your camera.

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