Located on Jarvis Creek surrounded by the salt marshes at the north end of Hilton Head island is an island gem that I wish I'd known about earlier. If I had, I'd have surely booked an excursion offered through the museum.
Different tours are offered daily with a rotating schedule and are led by the experienced volunteers and curators. History Tours, Nature Tours and the most appealing of all, Cruises are on the regular schedule. The Nature excursion cruise takes six select passengers through the marshes of Broad Creek out toward Daufuskie Island to explore the area and view the dophins, sea and marsh birds along the way. A guided kayak trip is another option offered for educational entertainment on the waterfront. On land, walking tours of the beaches departing from Burke's Beach and of the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge provide hours of fun and enlightenment for a mere $10 per person.
The Discovery Center itself is relatively small with a few rooms on the main floor that offer historical insight into the region's development. The upstairs exhibits focus mainly on native wildlife and bio-diversity. A loop-running video shouldn't be overlooked, as it explains the development of Gullah culture and language, a charming and lilting dialect that was born of the slaves' need to speak a common language. Here you'll learn that the culture of the Gullah also gave rise to the music of blues and jazz in America and for that alone is most "note" worthy.
It is obvious that the museum's primary focus is on community and visitor education. The Sea Turtle project, in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources, conducts summer month monitoring of beach nests of the logger-head turtles. Nests that are in jeopardy are moved or isolated until small, threatened, hatchlings make their way safely to the sea. Visitors during the summer months can sign up for a Turtle Walk and Talk to learn more, and anyone can register to Adopt a Turtle Nest . Extensive summer programs offering everything from crafts to puppets to Gullah music, Discovery Abroad Tours, specialty education programs, special events rounds out the work of the museum.
As a result of the obvious role the Museum plays in bringing nature, life and culture to the area, a unanimous vote in January by the Town Council agreed to dedicate the Honey Horn property, with 68 acres and a 7,000 square foot historical home, to the Coastal Museum's expansion. As the site's webpage states, " As the main house becomes the new home for the museum, three main themes will be addressed; 1)history and culture, 2) natural environment, and 3) eco-historical (how these two themes inter-relate)."
Work on the new center is slated to begin this May. I hope to schedule a return to Hilton Head island for sure-to-be grand opening and to sign up for a slew of those tours!