BRENT PENNINGTON The lighthouse hides behind palms at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC, on the afternoon of 19 April 2016.

Midweek we drove north out of Georgia into South Carolina, bypassing the moneyed island of Hilton Head for the small town of Beaufort, still farther north.  Beaufort is everything a southern coastal town should be, with a remarkable lovely waterside park.  We stopped for the used bookstores and to get sandwiches from a well-reviewed deli, then drove east out across the marshes and barrier islands to Hunting Island State Park and the end of the road.

Unlike the beaches I’m used to, Hunting Island manages to maintain a beach that feels completely wild.  The narrow park road that brings you there passes through an actual palm jungle, and the beach itself abuts it.  There’s no hotels, no development, not even any dunes; the forest ends and the beach begins, and the first fifty feet of beach is filled with the sea worn roots of old trees, showing the endless march of the coast on an ever-moving barrier island.

BRENT PENNINGTON Wild forest grows right to the edge of the beach at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC, on the afternoon of 19 April 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON Wild forest grows right to the edge of the beach at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC, on the afternoon of 19 April 2016.

For me, the most interesting part was the forest composition itself.  Tall pines and live oaks intermingled with patches of palm, and the result was unique in my travels.  It definitely gives the feeling of being in a convergence zone, not far enough south to be all palm, but not far enough north to exclude them.

BRENT PENNINGTON Driftwood and dead trees fill a section of beach at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC, on the afternoon of 19 April 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON Palms, shells, and patterns on the sand at Hunting Island State Park near Beaufort, SC, on the afternoon of 19 April 2016.

I wish there were more beaches like this.  I’d much rather seen forest and jungle that development and condo commandos.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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