The Lowcountry of South Carolina is not only a place, but also a way of life. That’s something I’ve discovered over the years, while traveling through the region on my way north and south along the Intracoastal Waterway. Sculpted by the rivers that slowly carve their way to the ocean, the Lowcountry, river basins and sea islands have a unique geography and diverse culture that come from the blend of early inhabitants—English, French and Spanish, along with African and Caribbean people brought in to work the indigo and rice plantations that today are nature preserves and protected wildlife habitats. There’s also a surreal beauty to the live oaks draped in Spanish moss.
When cruising through the Lowcountry aboard our trawler, a frequent stop for our crew is the town of Beaufort, South Carolina. Founded in 1711 as the second-oldest city in South Carolina, after Charleston, its location on the Beaufort River—a navigable tributary of Port Royal Sound—has made it a valuable deep-water port for more than 300 years. Beaufort had the mixed blessing of being one of the first cities in the South to be occupied by Union troops only a few months into the Civil War; the fortunate part is that many of the structures were saved as housing for the Northern army.
Today’s residents have restored many of the historic houses, and some 300 acres of the city are designated as a National Historic Landmark. This wonderful collection of antebellum architecture has drawn the attention of more than one Hollywood director, with The Great Santini, The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, Forrest Gump and G.I. Jane all having been shot on location. The Beaufort International Film Festival, held in February, is a must-visit for boaters who also enjoy the cinema.
Those who like to be active outdoors will find opportunities for walking, hiking, bicycling, bird-watching, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving and more. The restored waterfront at the Henry C. Chambers park is not only a great place to relax and take in the peaceful view of the river and surrounding islands, but it is also used throughout the year for cultural festivals.
You may only visit and not stay in the Lowcountry, but once you visit, a part of Beaufort will always stay with you.
WHERE TO DOCK
Safe Harbor Beaufort
Located in the heart of downtown, it offers shower and laundry facilities, courtesy transportation, Wi-Fi and a ship’s store.
Safe Harbor Port Royal Marina
Located on Beaufort River, about 2 nautical miles south from downtown Beaufort, the facility can accommodate vessels up to 140 feet.
WHERE TO DINE
A local favorite for the best Southern-inspired dishes, serving lunch and dinner.
Saltus River Grill
An urban spot with seafood, sushi and steak, and views along the Beaufort River.
Located at Port Royal Landing, this family friendly, Caribbean-inspired, Tiki-themed restaurant blends Caribbean flavors with Lowcountry seasoning.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue.