Some places are more of a surprise than others. When we headed south in the fall, we stayed at Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina based on rave reviews by several RV bloggers. Not surprisingly, we loved it.
Six months later, now heading north in the almost-spring, we stayed at another South Carolina coast state park with a similar name–Huntington Beach State Park. We had no blogger recommendations for this park, and knew little about it, but it looked interesting. It was … and more–a very nice surprise.
It was a gatorpalooza. Throw in miles of empty beach and more birds than you can throw a stick at and you have one of my favorite campgrounds in our travels.
The park is right off a main road leading to the highly commercialized Myrtle Beach, which battles with the Panama City, Florida area for the title of Redneck Riviera. So it was a surprise to find an oasis of alligators and birds, left alone in relative peace.
There is a causeway leading to the campground, with cars randomly stopped while their occupants take pictures of alligators sunning on a little island a few yards away.
The park was established as a bird and wildlife preserve by Archer and Anna Huntington, a wealthy and somewhat eccentric couple who first came to the island seeking ease for Anna’s tuberculosis. She was a successful sculptor and he had various interests, including a love of all things Spanish. The house they built in the 1930s, Atalaya, is open to the public, but is in pretty bad shape. The park puts on an interesting tour, but the house itself was ugly, dark, damp, and cold. I couldn’t wait to emerge into the sun again. The land around Atalaya, however, is lovely and, thanks to the Huntingtons, isn’t covered in water slides and Ruby Tuesdays.
I spent a lot of time watching alligators and birds. Their eyes,