North Island

Explore North Island and discover the shells and wildlife of the lowcountry during a trip with Rover Tours of Georgetown.

If you ever wanted to see Georgetown County in a new way, climb on a boat and head on an adventure with Rover Tours.

The company’s tours offer a unique mix of history, nature and fun. According to its website, “Rover Tours is committed in helping to educate and preserve South Carolina’s fragile wetlands and eco-systems today, because we care about tomorrow.”

The Carolina Rover will take you, your family and friends out on a 3 - 4 hour cruise that is guaranteed to be unlike any other attraction. Collect “barrier island” seashells, see dolphins in their natural habitat and view the Georgetown Lighthouse on your cruise aboard the Carolina Rover.

A coworker and I recently had the opportunity to participate in the shelling and lighthouse cruise, and it was one of the best work days in history. We met at the Front Street tour stand 30 minutes prior to our scheduled cruise and prepared to set out on the water. Guests are permitted to bring water, drinks and snacks aboard the boat, as you’re bound to get hungry on a 3-4 hour adventure. Definitely pack your sunscreen and sunglasses, as it’s hot out on the Carolina waters, and be sure to bring a bag to fill with your seashell finds. You are allowed to bring them home with you as souvenirs.

The first hour of the tour is spent boating out to North Island, crossing over the Sampit River into Winyah Bay, the third largest estuary on the east coast. Our guide, Elizabeth, shared a wealth of Georgetown County history with us, including facts about the area’s former rice plantations and a story about the U.S.S. Harvest Moon, a Navy flagship that sunk in Winyah Bay after it struck a mine in 1865.

Elizabeth also showed us a variety of shells that had been found on North Island and gave us an idea of what we would be able to collect, including oyster shells, moon snails and whelks and even beautiful pieces of driftwood, which we were permitted to bring back so long as they fit on the boat and in our cars. We learned that blood from horseshoe crabs is being used in coronavirus research. We also talked about being “custodians of the island” and picking up ribbons from balloons and other pollution to save the lives of sea turtles and local wildlife.

Once we reached North Island, we had a little over an hour to put our feet in the water and pick up shells.

The island is private, so it was a peaceful afternoon of exploring. There’s plenty of space to spread out, so it was easy to social distance from other groups. Masks are not required during your tour, as all activities are outdoors, but you are welcome to wear a mask if it makes you more comfortable.

On our boat ride back to Front Street, we rode by the historic Georgetown Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina in continuous operation, and learned about Belle Baruch and Hobcaw Barony. Rover Tours are made possible through the work of the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Preserve.

Whether this is your first visit to Georgetown County or one of many returns to the area, you’re sure to learn something new on your Rover Boat Tour adventure.

For more information and a full schedule of upcoming tours, visit roverboattours.com or call 843-546-8822.

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