Founded in 1993 by Dataw Island residents, Friends of Hunting Island is a non-profit all-volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the work of Hunting Island State Park in its conservation, education, and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources of the island.
Volunteers help protect endangered Sea Turtles, raise funds for educational programs in conjunction with Discover Carolina, and actively maintain the park’s trails, lighthouse, and beaches. Friends of Hunting Island is a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization and all donations and memberships are tax deductible.
Volunteers from Friends of Hunting Island have rebuilt oyster reefs, picked up trash on the trails and on the beaches, built fire pits and trash bins, installed Dogi-Pot stations with bags for pick up, given nature talks, worked as docents at the lighthouse, marked and cleared trails, constructed playgrounds, renovated historic buildings, planted gardens, provided ADA-accessible equipment, and lobbied government agencies to support the park’s re-nourishment programs. We’re sure there’s a role you can play in Friends of Hunting Island. Click here to become a member.
The lighthouse, originally built in the 1800’s, was destroyed during the Civil War. It was rebuilt and remained in service until the 1930’s. Today, although not an active lighthouse, it still has a decorative rotating light in the tower that is turned on at night.
Hunting Island is consistently rated one of America’s top beaches. Along with the beautiful beaches, Hunting Island also boasts miles of hiking trails through maritime forests, a fishing pier that juts out 1120 feet into the Fripp Inlet, a marsh walk, a lagoon that allows for kayaking and fishing, a Nature Center that has live animal exhibits and interactive touch screens that show all of the natural habitats, a Visitors Center to introduce you to all of the different ecosystems in the park, and a camping area with easy access to the beach. Add to that a park and ranger staff that is friendly and knowledgeable and you have a vacation that has it all!
2015 — President’s Award, from the National Association of State Parks Directors, for a volunteer group’s support of a state park.
2013 — 10th Annual Paddlefest proceeds — Higher Ground Outfitters donated over $1250 from the 10th Annual Paddlefest kayak and canoe race at Hunting Island State Park. The money supports the Discover Carolina program. Higher Ground Outfitters has raised over $5000 since 2009.
2012 — Civitas Award — Tourism Leadership Award, by Beaufort Chamber of Commerce. “This award recognizes a business, person, or organization that has made great contributions to Beaufort County’s number one industry—tourism.” In 2010, Friends of Hunting Island contributed a combined 25,000 volunteer hours, making the park truly a jewel in our backyard for us and for our many visitors to enjoy.
2010 — SC DHEC Earth Day Award — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, for our Litter Control Program, Doggi-Pots, Monofilament Recycling,BeachSweeps, and participation in Earth Day events. DHEC promotes and protects the health of the public and the environment.
2007 — Certificate of Recognition — Senate of the State of South Carolina, for bringing national attention to our state through our programs.
2007 — Take Pride in America — National Non-Profit Organization Award — US Department of the Interior, for our Loggerhead Sea Turtle Rescue Program, Dune Building, and Oyster Reef Restoration.
2006 — Take Pride in America — Certificate of Appreciation — US Dept. Of Interior For outstanding stewardship and awareness efforts involving state lands & waters and cultural resources.
2006 — Civitas Award — Non Profit Organization — by Beaufort Chamber of Commerce For demonstration of enhancement of the quality of life and betterment of the community.
2003 — Ambassador of the Year — by SC Parks Recreation and Tourism For contributions to the health and well-being of the state park.
We need only two things to provide the services and projects you see described on this website: your participation and your tax-deductible membership fees. For one $40 membership contribution, you and your family can join Friends of Hunting Island and have unlimited access to the park for one year. All members are encouraged to participate in any of our on-going projects. If you do not wish to join, but want to donate to our efforts, click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of Hunting Island.