Edisto Beach was originally settled by the Edisto Indians, but was rediscovered by the Spanish in the late 16th century. Rice and indigo were the most common crops during the early settlement years. Later, significant cotton plantations were built and flourished. This industry, fueled by rich land owners and slaves, prospered until the Civil War. Today, visitors enjoy the slow pace and casual lifestyle of Edisto Beach.
The first time we went there, in 2011, I reserved a 2 bedroom unit in Wyndham Ocean Ridge. I can't say we were terribly impressed with our unit. It was in an older section of the resort. Positives about it are that it was very roomy and nicely laid out. We also enjoyed the pool and wandering around the lagoon. But inside the unit we kept encountering very large Palmetto bugs (or large cockroaches). If we were there for more then 2 nights, I definitely would have been calling the main office for an exterminator. But since we weren't in the room much, we did our best to kill the ones we saw and pretend they weren't there. The 2nd bathroom was also in very poor shape with mold on the walls and the couch fabric in the living room was torn. But it had the potential to be really nice!
Sunsets were gorgeous!
On our 1 full day there, we drove over to Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve in the northeast corner of Edisto Island. It is 4,630 coastal acres with moss-draped live oaks, sunflower-filled farm fields, a lake, the ruins of an 1800's cotton plantation house and slave quarters, a couple of intact 1840s outbuildings and two miles of beach. As you enter the grounds, there is a kiosk where you can pick up a driving tour guide of the property. The 6.5-mile course starts along an avenue of oaks interspersed with loblolly pine and cabbage palmetto, the state tree.
When we were there the sunflower fields were dead, but eerily pretty.
We stayed on the beach access road until we got to a parking area just past the four-way stop. It’s a short walk from here to two small buildings, both built in the 1800s. The white wooden Gothic Revival structure once served as the Bleak Hall ice house. Back in the day, ice shipped from the north was packed in sawdust and stored in the tabby-walled foundation.
Another colorful bug on the plantation.
We passed the chimney of a slave house and a couple ponds created in the 1970s to provide habitat for wood ducks, wading birds and many aquatic species. As you cross a dike, you’ll enter the former Sea Cloud Plantation.
One of the green mossy covered lakes on the grounds. We think this is an alligator in the lake, but aren't 100% sure.
The last owners of the property were John Meyer and Margaret (Meyer) Pepper. When John E. Meyer died Jan. 1, 1977, at age 58, his will bequeathed Botany Bay to the state as a wildlife preserve. Meyer built his fortune in the hotel industry, and his real estate holdings included not only Botany Bay, but also White Hall Plantation and an 800-acre farm in Connecticut. Meyer donated Botany Bay to the state in part to settle a permit violation he faced after building a dike on the property. A supplement in Meyer's will gave his wife access to and control of the homes and the cultivated fields at Botany Bay for the remainder of her life. After she remarried, she cleared undergrowth and ponds to make it more inviting for deer, quail and waterfowl.
After doing the free car tour of the Plantation grounds, we parked at the beach access parking lot where the trailhead for the half-mile Pockoy Island Trail is. A causeway, built by slaves, takes you over the marsh through a densely wooded hammock and a small barrier island to the preserve’s 2.8 miles of shore.
(In 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Edisto hard and destroyed the boardwalk and we've heard the beach and trees that were in the water are gone. I'm sure glad we went there before then. It was quite a sight to see!)
It's a pretty walk to the beach.
Because shell collection is prohibited, the beach is full of different kinds of shells.
Being close to Charleston, we drove through there on our way back to Atlanta and were amazed by the architecture down town. Here are just a few examples.
We enjoyed Edisto Beach so much, that in 2012, Angie and I took another trip to Edisto Beach. This time we went through Savannah on our way there. We were amazed by this beautiful city, too. Too bad there are no Wyndham's there! I had just read the book and watched the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil about a visiting city reporter's assignment that revolves around the murder trial of a local Savannah millionaire. Sort of made the cute little squares and mansions come to life. Not part of Edisto Beach, but since it was part of our trip getting there, I'm including a few pictures of Savannah.
We even had lunch here at this neat little English Pub.
The front of our unit with private car port.
2 of the bedrooms on level 3.
Angie was even excited to find this resident gator in the lagoon near the resort entrance.
It poured the first night we were there, so no beach sunset that night. We did head to the beach the next morning and were shocked to find it covered with horse shoe crabs! Turned out to be mating season for them (early/mid May) and this is a beach they like, too!
We spent a couple hours here chilling out, wading in the water, and admiring the unique scenery.
That night we headed to the marina right across from our resort and asked if they had sunset boat rides. They did, so we took one. I believe it was about $30@. It was a beautiful night for a cruise! Even had the resident dolphins join us for awhile.
There were lots of interesting bird along the way. There was a lady on our cruise who was an avid bird watcher and named off a bunch of different birds that we passed. Here's an osprey.
We found out there was a beach at the far west side of the Wyndham property at the opening of the bay, so we headed there for awhile after our cruise and enjoyed a beer on the beach. A great way to end another great, but short, Edisto Beach vacation!
2015-another couple stops in Edisto!
I did make it back to Edisto! Sort of funny how things work out, but now we're living in S. Florida, too, and my husband and I drove back to St. Louis for a "vacation". We broke up the drive by staying in Edisto for a night on our way there and for 2 nights on our way back. Again I got us into the King Cotton 3 bedroom presidential unit. I noticed a few changes in our villa. The couches and chairs in the livingroom were different. Seemed to be new.
This is where Angie and I had fish and chips before. It's changed hands but service and food was still good. Now it's called something like Finns.
We did the water sunset tour again, too, but I was disappointed this time. The guide would stop, then drive like a bat out of Hell. I was soaked and covering my dslr to keep it from getting soaked, too. But other than that, we had a great time. Too short of a break, but a nice break from hours and hours on the road!