More about Bulls Island

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Bulls Island, at 5,000 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.


Bulls Island

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.

Perhaps the most photographed location on Bulls Island is Boneyard Beach. Here, hundreds of oaks, cedars, palmettos 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.

Bulls Island has restrooms, a covered shelter, and a picnic area for visitor use.

The History of Bulls Island

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 1700s. During the Revolutionary War, British warships used the island to replenish supplies.

Over 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, Mr. Dominick conveyed Bulls Island to the Cape Romain NWR. Historically, from 1940 - 1969, the refuge awarded contracts to concessionaires who offered Bulls Island visitors lodging and meals at the Dominick House. During those 29 years, five concessionaires lived on the island with their families, providing quality services for those who came to the island to birdwatch, fish, photograph wildlife, beachcomb, and archery hunt. Guests came from across the United States, Canada, and other countries including Finland, England, Germany, France, Sweden, and South Africa.

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 Accessing Bulls Island

Located about 3 miles from the mainland, Bulls Island is only accessible by boat. There is a public dock on the leeward side of Bulls Island suitable for craft 12 – 17 feet in length. The dock is first-come, first-serve. Large boats often anchor in Price’s Inlet, an inlet south of Bulls Island that separates Bulls Island and state-owned Capers Island.

Coastal Expeditions, the refuge concessionaire, operates a ferry service that provides regularly scheduled trips:

March 1 – November 30 Tu/Thu/Fri/Sat Departs 9AM and 12:30, Returns 12PM and 4PM.

December 1 – February 28 Saturday Departs 10AM, Returns 3PM.

Ferry Fee: Adults, $40 and Children 12 and under, $20. Reservations are not required but recommended.

In addition, for the first time in 43 years, the Dominick House on Cape Romain's Bulls Island is once again receiving overnight guests. Hosted by Coastal Expeditions, the three day/two night weekend ecology trip has a focus on barrier island dynamics, the connections of human and natural history, and invasive species. A myriad of island wildlife and plants will be studied as guests explore the salt marsh, maritime forest, and beach. Expeditions will be offered on the third weekend of October through May, with the first trip scheduled for October 18th - 20th.

For more information and to register for a ferry trip or an expedition, contact Coastal Expeditions at (843) 884-7684 or visit Coastal Expeditions.