Paddlers who are looking for an easy trip off the beaten path are going to love this island. It’s close enough to where a beginner will have no problem getting out, yet it feels like you’ve stumbled upon some deserted island in the middle of the ocean.
Buck Island is a privately owned island that sits just across Broad Creek from Hilton Head Island. There is no infrastructure connecting the island to the mainland, nor is there much at all on the island in the way of buildings or roads. The marsh surrounding the island is its main asset paddlers are interested in. The land portion of Buck Island is surrounded by a massive saltwater marsh, with a few major tidal creeks that will take you deep into the Spartina Grass on a high tide.
What Makes it Great The island’s proximity to Hilton Head is one of its best characteristics. This is the easiest island off of Hilton Head to hop in your kayak and head out to. It lies at the northwest middle end of Hilton Head, only separated by about a quarter mile across Broad Creek. The marsh is incredibly rich with wildlife, not to mention an abundance of redfish, so if you’re paddling out and feel like indulging in a fresh caught seafood meal later on, be sure to bring your fishing pole. Paddling around Buck Island, you’re sure to catch a few glimpses of dolphins, all kinds of sea birds, Ospreys, and maybe a manatee or two in the summer.
Who’s Going to Love It Paddlers who are looking for an easy trip off the beaten path are going to love this island. It’s close enough to where a beginner will have no problem getting out, yet it feels like you’ve stumbled upon a deserted island. If you enjoy paddling through marsh, Buck Island has one of the best opportunities for marsh paddling around Hilton Head. There is also a small beach/sandbar on the southeastern tip of Buck Island accessible at low tide. Pack food and water, paddle out to the far end of the island, and you’ll be set up for a beach side picnic. About 200 yards south of the dock located on the south side of the island, there is a small creek that dissects Buck Island in two. Be sure and bring your smartphone loaded with Google Earth to make sure you hit the right creek if you’re aiming to cut through to the north side of Buck Island. It’s very easy to confuse tidal creeks and get turned around, especially on a high tide. Your odds of getting lost here are slim, considering the mainland and Hilton Head Island are only about half a mile away, but getting stuck in a mud flat or oyster bed can be just as dangerous, especially if you’re ill-prepared. Bring all of your safety gear for this trip, even though it is so close to the big island.
Directions, Trailhead, Regulations The easiest way to get to Buck Island is to launch from the small causeway on Calibogue Cay Road. To get there, take 278 all the way to Sea Pines Circle. Head West on Greenwood, make a right onto Plantation Drive, and Calibogue Cay Road will be on your right. There is no launch fee, but you’ll need to be dropped off, as there is no parking at the creek. You can also paddle from the Cross Island boat ramp. Just follow the Broad Creek to the left of the ramp and you will see it at the very end of the creek.