Take Time to Explore the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway


Above photo:  The Flowers family has been serving fresh seafood on Edisto Island for four generations. 

Story and photos by Derek Jerrell

Derek is an award-winning freelance photographer specializing in landscape, wildlife and outdoor adventure photography.

Old-world charm and exquisite landscape merge for a South Carolina drive like no other.

One of only two scenic byways in South Carolina, the Edisto Island drive features some of the best views in the state. It’s also centrally located: 85 miles from Savannah, Georgia; 75 miles from Hilton Head, South Carolina; and 27 miles from the heart of Charleston.

The scenic byway is only 17 miles long, but don’t let the distance fool you. You can easily spend an entire day enjoying the sights along the way — everything from quaint food stands and local craft markets to historic churches and iconic oak trees. In fact, the byway is often referred to as the “Edi-slow” by locals because visitors seem to take their time absorbing the culture and scenery.

Edisto Island is a barrier island situated in the ACE Basin (where the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers meet to form one of the largest undeveloped estuaries). With over 50 percent of the land protected, the area offers a perfect combination of meandering marshes, tranquil inlets and roadside stands. King’s Farm Market is a favorite, featuring handmade sweet grass baskets and local produce. It’s the perfect place to grab a snack as you continue your journey.

Botany Bay is a personal favorite of mine and perhaps one of the most famous locations on Edisto Island. Before arriving at the beaches of Botany Bay, take a moment to admire the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees that line the road. You’ll notice the beaches are lined with a boneyard of old dead trees that still stand in the sand. The trees have been bleached white by the unrelenting sun, creating a surreal scene against the dark blue ocean.

No tour through Edisto Island is complete without sampling some local seafood, and there is no better place than the family-owned Flowers Seafood Company. Located only 6 miles from Edisto Beach, Flowers Seafood Company has some of the freshest seafood you can find. The seafood is made-to-order and includes offerings of fresh oysters, clams and shrimp. For a quick bite on the go, try the shrimp po’ boy and a side of hush puppies. Come hungry and leave happy.

Whether you’re quickly touring the area or staying for a while, the beauty of the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway will not disappoint.

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