With more than 4,600 acres of maritime forest, beach, freshwater ponds, and historical buildings on the property, Botany Bay offers a little something for everyone.
The area is one of the most unique destinations on Edisto Island. This working plantation opened to the public in 2008 and became a favorite among locals and visitors overnight.
It’s Spanish-moss draped live oak trees, pine-needle cushioned trails, and untouched beach provide a glimpse of the unspoiled lowcountry.
Individuals interested in visiting the beach, exploring the ruins of the plantation and its outbuildings, walking along the trails through the forest and past the ponds, or going for a controlled hunt can do it all at Botany Bay.
Botany Bay Plantation began as two separate entities – Sea Could and Bleak Hall plantations. These two plantations covered hundreds of acres and grew what was known as Sea Island cotton. This cotton was among the finest in the world and commanded a high price from dressmakers in Europe.
Both plantations survived the Civil War, even when both Union and Confederate forces occupied the plantation house at Bleak Hall and used it as a lookout. While one of the original homes burned down shortly thereafter, it was rebuilt when the South began to repair itself after the war.
Through 1917, Sea Cloud and Bleak Hall continued to thrive with active cotton crops until they were destroyed by the boll weevil. At that point, cotton production was discontinued, and the land was used to produce timber.
Unlike many plantations in the south, Sea Cloud and Bleak Hall continued to thrive while under control of one family. It wasn’t until the early 1930s when the plantations were purchased by Dr. James Greenway, who combined the plantations to create Botany Bay.
By the late 1960s, Botany Bay was purchased by John Meyer who was an outdoorsman committed to South Carolina’s land and wildlife. Meyer bequeathed the plantation to the state, with just one stipulation: The plantation would remain home to his wife, Margaret, for the remainder of his life, and it did.
When Margaret died in 2007, Meyer’s wish came to fruition – Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area in 2008. It is now managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Botany Bay’s beach is a must-see destination for anyone coming to Edisto Island. This beach is accessible via a half-mile walk across a shell-packed trail that cuts through the marsh and winds through a maritime forest. It’s common to see numerous birds, fiddler crabs, and other native animals during the walk to the beach.
Botany Bay’s beach is stunning. Many refer to it as “Boneyard Beach” due to the fallen trees – whitened by the sun – that rest in the sand and weather-worn trees that stand in the water. This untouched beach shows nature at its finest.
The beach itself has sun-bleached white sand, tide pools filled with sea creatures and seashells, and endless views.
Remember, erosion from recent hurricanes has made the beach impassable during high tide, so visitors are encouraged to check local tide charts before venturing out to the shore.
Also, collection of seashells, shark’s teeth, or anything else on the beach is strictly prohibited. The beach is monitored by a Botany Bay volunteer.
Wildlife & Plants
While visiting Botany Bay, visitors can expect to come across deer, snakes (some of which are even venomous), alligators, lizards, egrets, seagulls, sea turtles, fiddler crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, blue crabs, ghost crabs, dozens of sea birds, and racoons.
Visitors can also expect to see crops of sunflowers, pine trees, palm trees, sea oats, wildflowers, and century-old live oaks.
Botany Bay Rules & Regulations
Botany Bay does not allow dogs or horses on the causeway to the beach or on the beach, alcohol, metal detectors, or drones. Visitors are not permitted to leave behind any items in the preserve or on the beach; visitors are also prohibited from taking any shells or other items from the beach or the grounds.
Visitors are required to obtain a day pass from the kiosk upon entry into the park.
The causeway to the beach is wheelchair accessible.
Address, Hours, Season & Contact Info
Botany Bay is open from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. It is closed Tuesdays and for scheduled hunts.
The plantation is located on Botany Bay Road on Edisto Island. Follow signage along Botany Bay Road to the park.