Isle of Palm, South Carolina
A few weeks ago, my family went on our annual summer vacation. This year our destination was South Carolina. Although this may not be the most obvious vacation destination, it was absolutely perfect! After two very high maintenance vacations the past two summers (Disney World and NYC), we decided this year's vacation needed to be a little more laid back.
Don't get me wrong though, a Ledbetter beach vacation is not your typical beach vacation. While we stayed in a beautiful condo only about 300 yards from the beach, we only spent a couple days and evening walks on the beach. We spent the rest of our time exploring the area including Sullivan's Island and Charleston.
Other than the private area in which we stayed (Wild Dunes) and a few convenience stores, we spent the majority of our time on Isle of Palm on the beach and at the Isle of Palm Marina. The marina had many different options for water sports and boat tours, and we took advantage of many of them.
One of the very first things we did when we arrived was paddle boarding. None of us had ever done it before, and, frankly, the idea of standing straight up on something on slightly bigger than a surfboard made us laugh. We knew there would most likely be some funny fall-ins and balance problems, but, actually, we did pretty good. We stayed closer to the boat docks and marsh areas so the waves were minimal. It turned out to be a more relaxing experience. While getting from our knees to our feet proved to be a little difficult the first time, it was really more of a workout than a balance exercise. Although we didn't realize it until we got back to solid ground, we had been so focused on staying balanced and out of the water, we had been using our core and leg muscles for a solid hour! To say we were a little sore would be an understatement, but I would definitely do it again, maybe even in a few more waves to add a little excitement and splash-action next time.
Another day we went to the marina for a boat tour. My awesome dad surprised us with a private boat tour around Isle of Palm. We got to pull up active crab traps, walk the beach of an uninhabited island and collect huge shells, do some old fashioned crabbing of our own, see dolphins, and look at an oyster bed up close. We pulled up several crabs in the crab traps, but catching them ourselves on a small island wasn't quite as successful, unless two small hermit crabs count.
The oyster beds are everywhere in South Carolina. They are known for the quality of water (even though you wouldn't think so by looking at it). The oysters are constantly filtering the water, making it nutrient rich, but not very clear. They are also razor sharp in order to protect themselves from other animals, which is only characteristic of South Carolina oysters. You can eat them raw right out of the shell, but we did not partake in such practices.
The last day of our trip I talked my family into a parasailing trip. While this is totally not normal for me at all since I hate heights, it is one of those things people always do, and I wanted to try it! Luckily for my dad he convinced my sister to go up with me so he didn't have to go. Meanwhile my dad enjoyed himself on a jetski and made a few dolphin friends. My mom, sister and I went out in the parasailing boat, and my sister and I were one of about six pairs that went up in the air. Although one of the guides tried to convince my mom to go up, she was just there for the experience from the boat level. Honestly though, the waves were so rough on that little parasailing boat that the boat ride was most definitely worse on the nerves than the parasailing itself. While the takeoff was a little terrifying since you went from standing on the back of a boat to airborne in about half a second (see video on my Instagram and Facebook page), I really enjoyed it once we got up in the air. You could see the entire island! As long as I didn't look down at the water below me I was fine.
Another thing I enjoyed about Isle of Palm was the houses. I just couldn't get over the style of houses that were everywhere. I loved them. We spent several evenings after dinner driving around and admiring and critiquing different houses. They were beach house meets farmhouse with raised elevation for flooding but beautiful staircases and materials. Below are just a few of my favorites that I actually got to take a picture of.
We spent a couple afternoons on the beach with everyone else, but we ended almost every day walking on the beach at night during the sunset and after dark. We picked up more shells than we were able to get home, and we traumatized many crabs that we picked up in our net and sand bucket. We let them all go though; all the fun was in catching them.
Because of where we were on the island we never saw a dramatic sun set. The sun rose over the horizon where we were and set behind the island out of site. The last morning of our vacation before we went to the airport, I got up early with my dad, and we rode our bicycles down to the beach to watch the sunrise. As you can see below, it was absolutely worth it. It was easily the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation.
As I'm sure is no surprise to any of you, I have so many photos from this trip that they will not all fit in a single blog post. Therefore, this post focuses specifically on the area in which we stayed, Isle of Palm, but you can read posts about other portions of our trip including Charleston and its homes, Boone Hall Planation, food and our family beach pictures here.