Bulls Island

Made possible by



Bulls Island is the largest barrier island at the southern end of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Pristine beaches, dense maritime forest, and winding trails make up Bulls Island, and the only way to get there is by boat.

Written by

Lunden Herron

Destination Distance From Downtown

25.2 miles


3 of 5 diamonds


Time To Complete

1 hour to all day


All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Not Recommended

Fees Permits

$40 ferry fee for adults; $20 for children under 12.

Land Website

Link to Website


Pristine and protected land is the name of the game for Bulls Island. Located in the Cape Romain National Refuge off the coast of South Carolina, Bulls Island delivers in wildlife, beautiful trails, and an exciting experience to one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. A short ferry ride from Garris Landing is the only way to access the island, unless you’re feeling adventurous to make the 5 mile paddle in a kayak. Either way, it’s worth the effort.
Hiking is almost a must for those who visit Bulls Island. There are three trails to choose from: The Sheephead Ridge trail (3.7 miles), the Old Fort Loop (6.6 miles), and the Bull Island Wildlife Trail (2.0 miles). If these gorgeous trails don’t interest you, then feel free to walk along the 7 mile long secluded beach and check out the “Boneyard”, an abundance of sun-bleached oaks and cedars that inhabit the north shore of the island. A forest of dead bone-like trees right on the beach is a sight to behold, and a great picture, to boot. A tip: Take water and a snack out to the island with you, especially if you plan on being there for a few hours. There isn’t a water source on the island, and it can get hot out there. Particularly in the summer months. Depending what time of year you go, the ferry runs a few times a day, allowing you to possibly experience more than just one trail. For ferry times, check out Coastal Expeditions.
What Makes it Great
This remote barrier island is a one of a kind place that allows you to experience a truly secluded National Refuge. There are 5,000 acres of maritime forest that separates Bulls Island from the other 4 barrier islands in CRNWR, because it is the largest of the bunch. An ideal spot for birdwatching, there are over 290 species of bird sighted here over the seasons. And lastly, there is a network of over 16 miles of trail here, where you can run or walk past alligators and cedars alike.
Who’s Going to Love It
It doesn’t matter if you’re just going for a stroll to check out the flora and fauna, bringing the family, or heading out for an intense trail run, there is something for everyone on this island. Although camping is not allowed, you can hop over to Buck Hall Recreation Area and pitch your tent, which is only a few minutes from Garris Landing. The hiking is easy going here, and the trails are flat and mild. Only sand to slow your roll. However, beware: At the height of summer, make sure to slather yourself in bug-spray and sunscreen, and pack extra water. The temperature here tends to soar.
Trailhead, Parking, and Hours
To hop on the ferry, travel up US #17 North, and hang a right on to Sewee Road. After 3.4 miles, turn right onto Bull Island Road and follow this to Garris Landing.
Always double check the ferry times here. Typical ferry schedule is as follows:
March 1- November 30th
Tuesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Departs 9 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.
Returns Noon and 4 p.m.
December 1- February 28th
Saturdays only
Departs 10 a.m.
Returns 3 p.m.
Parking is at Garris Landing, where there are also public restrooms and a boat ramp. Parking is free. Hours are dawn to dusk.

Similar Local Hiking Spots

See all

More Charleston Activities

View Charleston

More Bulls Island Activities

Charleston Recommendations

Local Charleston Stories


Bulls Island

State Highway S-10-1170
Awendaw, SC, 29429
33.03767, -79.613127

Get Directions