Sandy Island – Sandy Island, South Carolina


South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Georgetown County Photos  |  Sandy Island

Sandy Island in Georgetown County got its name from the 9,000 acres of prehistoric sand dunes that comprise this refuge. The island and its unincorporated community exist between the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers and can be accessed only by boat. Thanks to a joint effort by the island’s residents, the Coastal Conservation League, and SCDOT, the land now belongs to the people of South Carolina and the Nature Conservancy. It is the largest undeveloped freshwater island on the east coast.

Sandy Island South Carolina

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Sandy Island community was founded by a former freed slave who had worked on local rice plantations. Many of the current residents are his descendants. Because the residents live isolated from the influence of the Grand Strand’s modern culture, the Gullah way of life here is preserved.

Sandy Island Ferry

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1996 a controversial bridge was proposed by private developers for hauling timber on and off the island, but the purchase of the land by the state and the Nature Conservancy guaranteed it would remain untouched by development, including the bridge. As a result, residents must have boat access in order to leave the island. Sandy Island children take the state’s only school boat to and from their schools on the mainland. The boat was christened the Prince Washington and is named for the community founder’s great-grandson.

Sandy Island School Boat

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Sandy Island may be close to the bright lights of Myrtle Beach, but the island did not have electricity until 1965. Just a quick boat trip transports people to a simple world where the locals retire in peaceful solitude after a long workday on the mainland.

sandy-island-marina

Yet the waterway is not without its perils. A stormy night in February of 2009 claimed the lives of three islanders on their way home from the mainland. Since then, residents have been pushing for a ferry to make travel to and from the island safer. The tragedy shook this close-knit community of about 120 people and brought to light the realities of island living. In March of 2013 the South Carolina Legislature approved a resolution to provide a ferry for the island. The resolution awaits approval in the Senate, though any resolution is nonbinding and only suggests that the Department of Transportation provide the ferry.

Sandy Island Pyatt's General Store

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

There is commerce on the island. Pyatt’s General Store is a sunshine-yellow oasis of sodas, snacks, Gullah folk art, and Sandy Island souvenirs. Though people must do their heavy shopping off the island, one can wander into Pyatt’s and quench a quick thirst or satisfy a craving for the “Best Ice Cream in Town.”

Sandy Island Cultural Center

The existence of endangered plants and animals such as long leaf pine (Pinus palustris) and the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) help ensure that Sandy Island will remain a protected area in which they can thrive. The Nature Conservancy uses prescribed burning regularly to manage the island’s longleaf pines, many of which are are over 100 years old and dominate the island’s canopy, with live oaks (Quercus virginiana) filling out the understory.

Sandy Island Schoolhouse

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The old schoolhouse was built in 1932 by Archer Huntington, noted philanthropist, builder of Atalya, and husband of Murrells Inlet sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. Though it is no longer used as a school, it serves as a conference center for town meetings on the island.

Sandy Island Bed And Breakfast

Pictured above is a simple bed-and-breakfast known as Wilma’s Cottage, and those who have stayed in the bunglaow-style home rave about the home cooking served to guests. Visitors can venture onto Sandy Island via one of four boat landings on the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers, and Brookgreen Gardens offers its own boat tour to the island. People may explore the island, but because wildlife is protected, feeding animals and picking plants and flowers are prohibited. It is also important to remember that the residents appreciate their quiet lives on Sandy Island.

Sandy Island Map



Sandy Island – Add Info and More Photos


The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Sandy Island, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


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2 Comments about Sandy Island

Colette DeGaradyNo Gravatar says:
August 13th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Due to the threat of wildfires, campfires and grills are not permitted on Sandy Island Preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. Thanks for checking! Glad you enjoy visiting Sandy Island.

Dawn BiddyNo Gravatar says:
May 27th, 2014 at 12:53 pm

We come to Sandy Island a lot in our boat and let the kids play in the sand. I was wondering if you can grill out on the island, or do you have to keep it on the boat?






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