BULLS ISLAND FERRY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT KIND OF BOAT WILL BE BE ON?
The Bulls Island Ferry has three Coast Guard Certified vessels in its fleet: Caretta, a 49-passenger covered triple-toon; Little Blue, an 10-passenger Carolina Skiff; and Skimmer, an 20-passenger Skiff.
When we have more than the smaller boats will hold, we use Caretta to go to the island. In an effort to respect the environment, we utilize the smaller skiffs when only a few people are going to the island.
HOW LONG IS THE BOAT RIDE TO THE ISLAND?
The actual time will depend on the weather and tides, but generally expect to be onboard for about 30 minutes. During that time, you will be surrounded by the beauty of Cape Romain, and either your captain or naturalist mate will teach you about the history and wildlife of the refuge and prepare you for your day on the island. The ecotour to and from the island is sure to be a highlight of your day!
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Pack a small backpack with just the essentials: Drinking water, bagged lunch, sunscreen, insect repellent, camera and binoculars.
If you've forgotten something, you can purchase sunscreen, insect repellent and bottled water on-board the boat. And for a great bagged lunch, stop in at the Sewee Outpost on your way in (at the corner of Highway 17 and Sewee Road) for sandwiches or a biscuit!
If you get to the boat and realize you did not pack water, sunscreen or insect repellent, we strongly recommend that you buy them on the boat.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR FERRY SERVICE AND A BEACH DROP?
For the regular FERRY SERVICE to the island, passengers depart at the dock on Bulls Island and hike through the interior of the island, allowing for a day of maritime forest and beach exploration. The ferry service gives visitors the opportunity to see alligators, hike inland trails, collect shells and visit the Boneyard with the flexibility of staying for a half or full day.
The BEACH DROPS are offered once a month (usually on Sundays) and passengers depart directly onto the beach at the north end of the island. From there, visitors are able to explore the 7 miles of pristine, undeveloped coastline for a day of beachcombing, shelling, swimming and relaxation. Perfect for those that want to spend the day in the Boneyard or picnicing along the shoreline, the Beach Drops have become a popular way to visit the island.
HOW FAR OF A WALK IS IT TO BONEYARD BEACH?
If you take the regular BULLS ISLAND FERRY to the island and depart at the dock, it is a 1.5 mile walk to the beach, and another 1.5 miles down the beach to the Boneyard.
If you take the BULLS ISLAND BEACH DROP and depart on the beach, it is a 1.5 mile walk to the Boneyard. The boat drops you off as close as it can to Boneyard Beach. Dumping waves and trees stranded in the surf make it dangerous to do an oceanside beach landing by boat.
ARE BULLS ISLAND TOURS KID-FRIENDLY?
Every week children visit Bulls Island with their families and with their schools. Tours like the Bulls Island Ferry and the Beach Drop are the best tours for kids because they let you set your own pace once you are on the island. As with anything, your day will be more enjoyable if you're prepared. Here are some tips for visiting Bulls Island with kids!
IS THERE POTABLE WATER ON THE ISLAND? CAN I PURCHASE FOOD, WATER OR SOUVENIRS ON THE ISLAND?
You need to bring all of the drinking water that you'll need for the day with you. We recommend that you bring more water than you think you'll need (especially during the summer months). We also sell bottled water on board-- just ask the mate and they'll help you out!
There is nothing for sale once you are on the island.
WHAT TYPE OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT?
We welcome cash, check and major credit cards. In most cases, whether you have a reservation or are a walk-up, you will pay when you board the boat.
WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY?
There is a 24-hour cancellation policy for day tours within the refuge If you can not go and you do not contact the office at (843)884-7684 prior to that time, your credit card will be charged.
For multi-day tours like the Bulls Island Overnight at the Dominick House, the cancellation policy is more specific because of the limited space and pre-planning that is required. Please refer to the Bulls Island Overnight page for more information.
If Coastal Expeditions cancels the trip due to weather or some other reason, we will contact you and you will not be charged. Coastal Expeditions retains the right to decide if the trip will be cancelled. We will always try to give you as much notice as possible, but because of the ever changing coastal weather, we may make the call the day of the trip.
Forecasted rain does not necessarily mean that the trip will be cancelled, but high winds and electricity are cause for trip cancellation. Safety for the captain, mate and participants are paramount.
DO I NEED TO RESERVE A SPOT FOR MY INFANT?
Children 2 and under are free of charge on the ferry. You must reserve a spot for them when you book. Our boats have a maximum number of people they can hold, and that includes infants. So, if you are a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 child, 1 infant), please reserve 4 total spots.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Dress like you are going hiking, not like you are going to the beach. Bulls Island is a 5000-acre island with 16 miles of unpaved roads and trails. We'll help you decide which route you'll want to take, but you'll be doing some walking to get there. You'll want to protect yourself from sun and insects along they way!
We recommend closed-toe, comfortable walking shoes, hat, and synthetic clothing (long-sleeved shirt, long pants).
During colder months, dress in layers. In the summer, you may want to wear a bathing suit under your clothes for a dip in the ocean!
ARE THERE BATHROOMS OR OTHER FACILITIES ON THE ISLAND?
Yes, there are four bathrooms and a storm shelter at the heart of the island. Once your venture beyond that point, your only option will be a "loo with a view."
ARE ALLIGATORS DANGEROUS? WHAT SHOULD I DO IF ONE IS IN MY PATH?
In the 23 years that Coastal Expeditions has been taking visitors to Bulls Island, people and alligators have comingled very well together.
Do not feed, touch or harass alligators in your path. Do not get between basking alligators and the water (that is where they will instinctually go when disturbed). In most cases, alligators will slide into the water when you approach, but if they do not move you may have to choose an alternate path. Simply use common sense and you will have a pleasant interaction.
Additional information will be provided during your ferry ride to the island.
MAY I COLLECT SHELLS?
Yes. You may take a one small bag from the beach. By small bag, we mean the size of a small grocery bag. Only remove empty shells (no live whelks, for example) and be considerate.
Nothing else may be removed from the island. This includes, but is not limited to, driftwood, skulls/skeletons and plants.
ARE PETS ALLOWED ON THE FERRY OR ON BULLS ISLAND?
No. Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is managed for the protection of habitat and wildlife species. Bringing pets into this environment risks disturbance of nests, feeding and breeding, and it could introduce parasites to the island.
MAY I BRING MY BICYCLE?
Bicycles are welcome on the ferry and can be a nice way to explore Bulls Island. There are few things that you should know before you bring your bike:
• You must call ahead to make a reservation for your bike. Due to space constraints on the boat, only 12 bikes are allowed each DAY. If you don't have a reservation, you may have to leave your bike at the landing.
• Fat-tired bicycles are recommended. Many of the roads are sandy and narrow tires will be harder to pedal.
• Sand spurs and other elements have the ability to puncture tires. You should be prepared with a repair kit (or be willing to walk your bike back to the landing!).
• Bikes are allowed on roads only. They are not allowed on trails or the beach. Bulls Island is managed for the protection of wildlife, and riding your bike on the beach disturbs shorebirds (nesting and resting) and, potentially, sea turtles. There are only a few places along our coast that give animals protection like this, and on Bulls Island wildlife rules all.
• Refuge management allows bikes on the island as a courtesy; If people begin to take advantage of this privilage, it can be discontinued. Do not ride on the beach or trails!
Read this first-hand account of biking on Bulls Island to see if its something you want to do!