Though actually consisting of many islands and hammocks, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (912/652-4415, daily dawn–dusk, free) is the only part of this small but very well-managed 4,000-acre refuge that’s open to the public. Almost 70 percent of the former rice plantation is salt marsh and tidal creeks, making it a perfect microcosm for the Lowcountry  as a whole, as well as a great place to kayak or canoe .
Native Americans liked the area as well, with an approximately 10,000-year presence and over 100 archaeological sites being identified to date. Like many coastal refuges, it was a private game preserve for much of the 20th century.
Some of the state’s richest birding opportunities abound here, with observers able to spot gorgeous white ibis, rare wood storks, herons, egrets, eagles, and ospreys with little trouble from its miles of trails.
Getting to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is easy: On U.S. 278 east to Hilton Head , the refuge entrance is right between the two bridges onto the island.