For many people around the world, the Lowcountry is the first image that comes to mind when they think of the American South. For the people that live here the Lowcountry is altogether unique, but it does embody many of the region’s most noteworthy qualities: an emphasis on manners, a constant look back into the past, and a slow and leisurely pace (embodied in the joking but largely accurate nickname “Slowcountry”).
History hangs in the humid air where first the Spanish came to interrupt the native tribes’ ancient reverie, then the French, followed by the English. Though time, erosion, and development have erased most traces of these multicultural occupants, you can almost hear their ghosts in the rustle of the branches in a sudden sea breeze, or in the piercing call of a heron over the marsh.
Artists and arts lovers the world over are drawn here to paint, photograph, or otherwise be inspired by some of the most gorgeous wetlands in the United States, so vast that human habitation appears fleeting and intermittent. Sprawling between Beaufort  and Charleston  is the huge ACE Basin , a beautiful and important estuary and a national model for good conservation practices.
In all, the defining characteristic of the Lowcountry is its liquid nature—not only literally, in the creeks and waterway that dominate every vista and the seafood cooked in all manner of ways, but figuratively, too, in the slow but deep quality of life here. Once outside what passes for urban areas here, you’ll find yourself taking a look back through the decades to a time of roadside produce stands, shadetree mechanics, and men gathered along tidal creeks fishing and crabbing—not for sport but for the family dinner.
Indeed, not so very long ago, before the influx of resort development, retirement subdivisions, and tourism, much of the Lowcountry was like a flatter, more humid Appalachia—poverty-stricken and desperately underserved. While the archetypal South has been marketed in any number of ways to the rest of the world, here you get a sense that this is the real thing—timeless, endlessly alluring, but somehow very familiar.
South of Beaufort  is the historically significant Port Royal  area and the East Coast Marine Recruit Depot of Parris Island . East of Beaufort is the center of Gullah culture , St. Helena Island , and the scenic and unspoiled gem of Hunting Island .
To the south is the also scenic but entirely developed golf and tennis mecca, Hilton Head Island , and Hilton Head’s close neighbor but diametrical opposite in every other way, Daufuskie Island , another important Gullah center. Nestled in between is the charming, close-knit, and gossipy little village of Bluffton  on the gossamer May River.