Botany Bay, South Carolina (Photo & Travel Guide)

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Botany Bay is a 4,687 acre wildlife preserve full of unique vegetation located on Edisto Island in South Carolina. With its huge 2.8 mile long shore full of dead trees this is a great destination for nature and landscape photographers.

Entrance to Botany Bay is free but a donation is recommended. When entering Botany Bay you’ll have to sign in using your license plate number and you can also pick up a map with information of all the sights.

Tips for Visiting Botany Bay

  • Sunrise is stunning here so I recommend waking up early to shoot sunrise. (Details about when the gate opening is at the bottom of this section)
  • Botany Bay is typically closed on Tuesdays.
  • Wear bug spray, the area has a lot of mosquitos.
  • Botany Bay is free but a small donation is recommended and can be left at the front entrance booth.
  • Do not take any shells from the beach to preserve it as much as possible.

Best Places to Photograph in Botany Bay

Here are some of the best places to photograph in Botany Bay SC:

Tunnel of Oak Trees on the Botany Bay Road

Avenue of oaks leading down to the entrance of Botany Bay
Avenue of oaks leading down to the entrance of Botany Bay road

The first thing you’ll see when driving to Botany Bay is the avenue of mossy oak trees. There isn’t much traffic on the road so it’s easy enough to stop and wait for cars to drive through.

The entire wildlife preserve is a dirt road with many bumps. I don’t think many cars would have trouble driving here but I could see it being a bit cumbersome after a heavy rain.

The Eroding Beach at Botany Bay

Dead Tree At Botany Bay Sc
Dead Tree on the shore of Botany Bay

The main highlight of Botany Bay is its massive shore full of dead trees and overgrowth. Depending on the tide and time of day this location can change quite a bit.

I’d highly recommend bringing an ND filter to fully capture the motion of the sea and clouds.

Trail To Botany Bay Beach
Walking Trail to Botany Bay Beach

Using the walking trail to access Botany Bay beach is mandatory. It’s about a 10-minute drive from the entrance to the beach parking lot which had plenty of parking during my visit. The walk to the beach using the trail is about 1/2 a mile which will probably take about 15 minutes of walking.

If you’re planning to photograph sunrise here be sure to scout the location beforehand. Since the gates open 30 minutes before sunrise you have very limited time to make it to the beach.

On my visit, the gate automatically opened about 15 minutes before sunrise (~6am). I sat in my car on the road next to the gate for about 30 minutes waiting for the gate to open. So if you’re trying to get to the beach as quickly as possible you’ll want to arrive early and wait by the gate for when it opens.

Botany Bay Beach Sunrise 18
Sunrise at Botany Bay

The entire beach is about two miles so you could easily spend a couple of hours just walking up and down the beach. But on my visits, I typically walked to the left to head north on the beach.

Ice House at Bleak Hall Plantation

Ice House At Botany Bay Sc
Ice House at the Bleak Hall Plantation

One of the only standing buildings left on the plantation is the ice house. Located on the Bleak Hall plantation which is one of the first things you’ll see in Botany Bay. There is also a small gardening shed on the plantation but the Ice House is far more fun to photograph.

Botany Bay Driving Tour

When you first enter Botany Bay you’ll be given a map at the sign-in booth which will give you information about stops on the driving tour. You can also view the Botany Bay map on their website.

Moss On Trees During Driving Tour At Botany Bay
Mossy trees during the driving tour

The driving tour in Botany Bay consists of a single one-way road looping around showing off lakes, trees, and rubble of historical buildings. If you’re visiting the beach I highly recommend doing the driving tour on the way out since it only takes about 20 minutes.

Botany Bay Driving Tour Stop 11
One of the many driving tour stops facing the marsh

Botany Bay Hours & Rules

Botany Bay Daily Rules And Hours

Hours of Botany Bay SC are typically 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. The gate closes at 8pm to prevent new people from entering but when exiting the gate automatically opens.

At the main entrance is a daily updated list of hours and rules which is also located before the beach. They prohibit visiting the beach at high tide but the hours will be listed on the board when you enter.

Due to the fact that Botany Bay is a wildlife preserve taking shells or anything is prohibited. Additionally, they have plenty of signs saying no drones so I wouldn’t recommend trying.

Botany Bay on Google Maps

Botany Bay Pictures

Botany Bay is well worth the visit if you visiting Charleston, SC since it’s only about an hour drive away. Here are more of my photos from Botany Bay, South Carolina.

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I hope you get a chance to visit Botany Bay! It’s a fantastic place for photography. On my next visit I plan to bring a telephoto lens to capture wildlife.

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5 comments on “Botany Bay, South Carolina (Photo & Travel Guide)”

  1. Sophie Messenger

    I live in Mt. Pleasant SC and I do watercolor painting as a hobby. Your photos are so beautiful and I was wondering if I might have permission to use your photos as a reference for some of my paintings. I don’t sell any of my work, it’s for my pleasure only. Although I would really love to visit this beautiful area of SC, my age and health just won’t allow me to do that. I especially love the “ice house” at Bleak Hall Plantation.

  2. Where did you find the information about sunrise open? The hours online say 8 am but can’t find anything about sunrise gate opening. Thanks!