SC History Trail

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and Bull Island

Historic Bull Island and the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge offer a unique combination of South Carolina history and natural history. Bull Island was frequented by the pirates of the Colonial Era, by British sailors in the Revolution, and Northern troops in the Civil War. Ferry transportation and tours may be arranged through Refuge headquarters.


Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and Bull Island
498 Bull Island Road, Awendaw, SC 29429
Map: View Map and Directions
Web Site:
Phone: 843-881-4582
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Site Description
A pristine sea island located between Georgetown and Charleston, Bull Island was a traditional hideout for the pirate crews who patrolled the South Carolina coast during the Colonial Era. The island provided fresh water and a secluded site for pirates to careen their ship and scrape barnacles from the ship's hull. Ruins on the site are believed to be ruins of a Colonial Era fortification. The island was reportedly used by the British navy during the Revolution, and was also utilized by Federal troops in the Civil War, which a naval blockade of the South Carolina coast was enforced by the U.S. Navy's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Today Bull Island is preserved in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge which was established in 1932 as a migratory bird refuge. The Refuge encompasses a 22-mile segment of coastline and consists of 66,287 acres. It is composed of barrier islands, salt marshes, intricate coastal waterways, long sandy beaches, fresh and brackish water impoundments, and maritime forest. Points of interest include Bulls Island, Cape Island, and Lighthouse Island where two historic lighthouses still stand.

Headquarters for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and the Sewee Visitor and Environment Education Center are located approximately 20 miles north of Charleston on U.S. 17 at the town of Awendaw. There, ferry transportation and sightseeing tours to historic Bull Island, the lighthouses and other attractions may be arranged.
Access and Admission
Site Access: Public
Access Description: Boat Access via Garris Landing
Average Viewing Time: Limited Hours
Ownership: Public