Places We Protect

Sandy Island Preserve

South Carolina

Sandy Island Image of sunset over water, with a photographer taking a picture on Sandy island, a small island that The Nature Conservancy owns. © John Moore

Visitor upgrades highlight the unique natural landscapes and communities of Sandy Island.



We have officially opened the Larry Paul Hiking Trail at Sandy Island Preserve! Download a Sandy Island Preserve Guide and Trail Map.

This two-mile hiking loop was created on the southern end of the preserve. The trail begins at the beach near Thoroughfare Creek Landing and offers views of Longleaf Pine and Pocosin Bay communities. The trail also includes interpretive signage about the island's abundant plants and wildlife. 

The Conservancy manages the longleaf pine forests on Sandy Island Preserve with periodic controlled burns. The burns typically take place in the winter and early spring. 

Partnerships & Hunting Opportunities
In 2012 The Nature Conservancy entered into an agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where they help the Conservancy manage the wetlands surrounding the preserve. Hunting on the wetlands is managed by the USFWS. For more information and to obtain a permit call 843-527-8069. The Nature Conservancy has also entered into the Property Watch Program managed by the SC Department of Natural Resources to help police illegal hunting and other activities on the preserve. The Nature Conservancy provides an opportunity for archery hunting on the upland forests of Sandy Island Preserve for a limited number of hunters from October to November each year. Hunters can register for the drawing before September 5th by contacting Nicole Allan or 843-937-8807 x-10.

For more information, contact:
The Nature Conservancy
1417 Stuart Engals Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 937-8807




9,164 Acres

Explore our work in this region

Enjoying Your Visit
The Nature Conservancy hopes visitors to Sandy Island will enjoy the easy hiking terrain, pristine forest and wetland habitats of the preserve. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit.  

  • The preserve is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.  
  • Access to Sandy Island Preserve is by boat only, and there are no restrooms, running water or trash removal service.  
  • There is no bridge to Sandy Island. The closest boat access is from landings along the Waccamaw River. Bull Creek (1), Vaux Creek (2), and Thoroughfare Creek (3) landings on the Island (yellow diamonds on adjacent map) provide access to hiking trails and informational kiosks.  
  • Visitors to Sandy Island Preserve are welcome to: hike, observe wildlife, picnic, take photos, fish.  
  • Visitors are on their own but guided tours may be pre-arranged with local tour companies.  
  • Visitors are asked to refrain from: camping, littering, lighting fires, hunting without a permit, and removing cultural or animal/plant artifacts. Please respect private property outside of thepreserve.  

Call Waccamaw NWR Visitor’s Center at 843-527-8069 or The Nature Conservancy at 843-937-8807 with questions about your visit.  

What to See: Plants
Sandy Island supports a large number of rare plant communities. The uplands cover about half of the island and exhibit many communities typical of the Sandhills Region, along with those more commonly found in the Outer Coastal Plain. Parts of the island have experienced wildfires at various times. The north end of the island (which burned most often) supports a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) community with very little hardwoods understory. Mature longleaf pine in excess of 100 years old dominate the upland landscape. Fire is a natural component of such communities, preserving health, quality and diversity.  Where fire was suppressed in the south end of the island, turkey oak dominates the upland landscape.

What to See: Animals
Among the rare species existing in the pine forest is the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.  These birds depend upon the mature, fire-resistant pine forest to provide forage and nesting sites. Black bears also use Sandy Island as a corridor for travel.