Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region


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Bulls Island

  Endangered Wood Storks. Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS
  Endangered Wood Storks. Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS

Bulls Island, at 5000 acres, is the largest of four barrier islands found within the Cape Romain NWR. The island consists of maritime forest, fresh and brackish water impoundments, salt marsh and sandy beaches. Live oaks, Sabal palmettos, cedar, loblolly pines and magnolias are the dominant trees found on the island. Bulls Island is home for deer, alligators, raccoons, and black fox squirrels, but the bird life is what Bulls Island is known for throughout the world. Over 293 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge with most being found on or near Bulls. During the fall and winter seasons, black ducks, canvasback, scaup and wigeon can be found in the impoundments. Yellowlegs, dunlins and sanderlings are viewed on the mud flats and beaches. Waders such as blue herons and American and snowy egrets are plentiful. Warblers, woodpeckers and raptors abound in the lush forest on Bulls Island.

Alligator and Black-necked Stilt. Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS  
Alligator and Black-necked Stilt.
Credit: Ray Paterra/USFWS

Since the early settlements, Bulls Island has been the scene of much historical activity. Bulls Bay and the creeks behind Bulls Island were reputed hideouts for pirates plundering ships along the coast. The remains of the "Old Fort" are believed to have been a martello or lookout tower built in the
early 1700's. During the Revolutionary War, British warships used the islandto replenish supplies.

For 240 years, 36 parties claimed ownership of Bulls Island. In 1925, New York banker and broker Gayer Dominick purchased the island. An avid outdoorsman, Dominick built a large vacation home and developed the island into a hunting preserve. In 1936, Dominick conveyed the island to the U.S. Government and Bulls Island became part of the Cape Romain NWR.

  Boneyard Beach. Credit: Randy Lynch
  Boneyard Beach. Credit:
Randy Lynch©


Perhaps the most photographed location on Bulls Island is Boneyard Beach. Here, hundreds of oaks, cedars and pines are strewn along a three mile stretch of beach on the northeast corner of the island; all the result of an ever-changing beach in constant battle with the in-coming surf. Boneyard Beach gets its name from all the downed trees that have been bleached by the sun and salt water.

Visitors to Bulls Island can enjoy surf fishing, watching wildlife, picnicking, hiking and biking. There are two hiking trails, the one-mile Middens Trail and the two-mile Turkey Walk Trail. Bicycles are allowed only on the island roads; bikes are not permitted on the beach or nature trails.

During the first week in November and first week in December there is an archery hunt for white-tailed deer. The harvest of surplus animals is one tool used to manage wildlife populations. Carefully managed hunts maintain wildlife populations at a level compatible with the environment, provide wholesome recreational opportunities, and permit the use of a valuable renewable resource. For more information about the hunt, please see the refuge hunt brochure.

Bulls Island lies nearly 3 miles off the mainland and can be reached by boat from Garris Landing. A private ferry service takes visitors to the island on regularly scheduled days. Visitors desiring to visit Bulls Island should contact Coastal Expeditions at (843) 881-4582 or by viewing  Bulls Island Ferry.

See the Bulls Island information sheet for additonal information and to view a map of the island.


Last updated: October 29, 2014
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