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How Long Is The Bulls Island Ferry Ride


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lou Saunders



South Carolina is a state known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. From charming coastal towns to breathtaking mountain ranges, the Palmetto State offers a diverse range of attractions for locals and visitors alike. One of the hidden gems of South Carolina is a place called Bulls Island. Located near Charleston, Bulls Island is a nature lover’s paradise that promises an unforgettable experience.


Situated within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Bulls Island is a barrier island that offers pristine beaches, lush maritime forests, and captivating marshlands. This remote and untouched island is only accessible via a ferry ride, which adds to its allure. If you’re planning a trip to South Carolina and want to explore the natural beauty of the state, a visit to Bulls Island should be at the top of your list.


In this article, we will delve into the details of the Bulls Island ferry ride, including the route and schedule, duration of the ride, scenic views, wildlife spotting opportunities, amenities and services available, and the ticket price.


So, grab your hat, sunscreen, and camera, and get ready for an adventure to Bulls Island!


Route and Schedule

The Bulls Island ferry ride begins at Garris Landing, located in Awendaw, South Carolina. Garris Landing serves as the departure point for the ferry, which will take you on a scenic journey to Bulls Island. The ferry operates on a regular schedule, allowing visitors to plan their trip accordingly.


The ferry to Bulls Island runs from Tuesday through Sunday, with multiple departure times throughout the day. It is important to check the schedule in advance, as it may vary depending on the season or weather conditions. The first ferry usually departs in the morning, and the last ferry back from Bulls Island is in the late afternoon.


The ride to Bulls Island takes you through the picturesque waters of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. As you leave the dock, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the marshes, creeks, and coastal ecosystems that make up this unique and protected area.


The ferry ride itself is an experience to remember. The knowledgeable captain and crew provide informative commentary about the history, wildlife, and natural features of the region. They are always ready to answer any questions you might have, making the journey both educational and enjoyable.


It’s worth noting that due to the remote location of Bulls Island, the ferry ride is the only way to reach it. Private boating is not allowed, so taking the ferry ensures a convenient and hassle-free trip to this pristine island.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, photographer, or simply looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, the Bulls Island ferry ride offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in South Carolina’s natural beauty.


Duration of the Ride

The duration of the ferry ride to Bulls Island varies depending on several factors, including tides and weather conditions. On average, the ride takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes each way. However, it’s important to note that these times are approximate and can vary slightly.


The ferry ride itself is part of the adventure. As you glide through the calm waters of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll have ample time to take in the scenic views and marvel at the natural beauty around you. The journey offers a chance to relax, unwind, and embrace the tranquility of the surrounding environment.


While the ride is relatively short, it is recommended to plan your day on Bulls Island accordingly to make the most of your visit. Keep in mind that the last ferry departs from Bulls Island in the late afternoon, so it’s essential to allocate enough time to explore the island and enjoy all it has to offer.


It’s also worth mentioning that the ferry ride times may be subject to change due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances. It is always a good idea to check the schedule in advance and be prepared for any possible changes.


Overall, the duration of the ferry ride to Bulls Island is relatively short, but the memories and experiences you’ll take away will last a lifetime. The journey provides a perfect opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and immerse yourself in the untouched natural beauty of Bulls Island and the surrounding area.


Scenic Views

The Bulls Island ferry ride not only takes you to a pristine and remote destination but also treats you to breathtaking scenic views along the way. As you depart from Garris Landing, you’ll immediately be immersed in the natural beauty of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.


One of the highlights of the ferry ride is the opportunity to witness the stunning marshes and creeks that are characteristic of the area. The marshlands stretch as far as the eye can see, with their vibrant shades of green, dotted with colorful marsh grasses and waterfowl. The interplay of sunlight and shadows on the marshes creates a mesmerizing display of natural beauty.


As the ferry glides through the waterways, you’ll also be treated to panoramic views of the coastal ecosystems that make up this unique area. From maritime forests to barrier islands, the landscape showcases the diversity of South Carolina’s coast. Keep your camera handy as you may encounter picturesque scenes that you’ll want to capture and cherish.


Arriving at Bulls Island, you’ll be greeted by miles of pristine sandy beaches. The untouched coastline is a sight to behold, with its wide expanse of dunes and crystal-clear water. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline and breathe in the fresh sea air as you admire the unspoiled beauty of Bulls Island’s beaches.


For those with a passion for birdwatching, Bulls Island offers a plethora of opportunities. Look out for a variety of coastal and migratory bird species, including herons, egrets, and pelicans, as they soar through the sky or wade in the marshes. The ferry ride itself provides a unique vantage point to observe these feathered creatures in their natural habitat.


Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates stunning landscapes, the scenic views on the Bulls Island ferry ride are sure to leave you in awe. Be prepared to be captivated by the natural beauty that surrounds you and create lasting memories of South Carolina’s coastal paradise.


Wildlife Spotting

One of the most exciting aspects of the Bulls Island ferry ride is the opportunity to spot a wide array of wildlife in their natural habitat. As you traverse the waterways of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, keep a keen eye out for the diverse range of animals that call this area home.


One of the highlights of the wildlife experience on Bulls Island is the chance to see the majestic Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. These playful and intelligent creatures are frequently seen swimming alongside the ferry, delighting visitors with their acrobatic displays and graceful movements. Witnessing dolphins in their natural habitat is an awe-inspiring and unforgettable sight.


The waters surrounding Bulls Island are teeming with marine life, making it an excellent spot for fishing enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for schools of fish, such as redfish and flounder, as they swim near the surface. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a loggerhead sea turtle or a manatee on your journey.


On the island itself, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter a variety of bird species. Bulls Island serves as a sanctuary for numerous coastal and migratory birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Look for great blue herons, snowy egrets, ospreys, and colorful painted buntings as you explore the island’s trails and beaches.


As you venture into the maritime forests and marshes of Bulls Island, you may come across a range of terrestrial animals. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, raccoons, and even the elusive bobcat. The island’s diverse habitats provide a haven for wildlife, offering a unique opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural environment.


It’s important to note that Bulls Island is a protected area, and it’s essential to respect the wildlife by observing from a safe distance and refraining from feeding or disturbing the animals. By practicing responsible wildlife watching, visitors can help preserve the natural balance of the ecosystem and ensure that future generations can also enjoy these incredible encounters.


So, as you embark on the Bulls Island ferry ride, be prepared to be amazed by the diverse wildlife that South Carolina has to offer. From playful dolphins to vibrant birds and intriguing land animals, Bulls Island is a sanctuary that invites you to connect with nature in an extraordinary way.


Amenities and Services

Although Bulls Island is a remote and untouched paradise, there are still amenities and services available to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit. While the island itself is wild and undeveloped, the ferry and its facilities provide some basic necessities for visitors.


Upon boarding the ferry, you’ll find seating areas where you can relax and enjoy the scenic views during the journey. The crew is always on hand to provide assistance and answer any questions you may have. They are experts in the area and can offer valuable insights about the island and its surroundings.


While there are no eateries or cafes on Bulls Island, you can bring your own food and drinks for a picnic-style experience. Make sure to pack enough water, snacks, and a delicious lunch to keep you energized throughout the day. Remember to dispose of any trash responsibly and help keep the island clean and pristine.


Restrooms are available on the ferry for your convenience. It’s a good idea to use these facilities before disembarking on Bulls Island, as there are limited restroom options once you arrive. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural environment during your visit.


For those interested in learning more about the island’s flora, fauna, and history, the ferry crew often provides informative commentary during the ride. Listen attentively as they share interesting facts and stories about Bulls Island and its unique ecosystem. This adds an educational element to your experience, allowing you to deepen your understanding and appreciation for the area.


If you’re planning on spending a full day on Bulls Island, it’s important to come prepared. Pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable walking shoes, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Additionally, consider bringing binoculars and a camera to capture the incredible sights and wildlife that you may encounter.


While Bulls Island may lack some of the modern conveniences and amenities available in more developed areas, the journey and experience are well worth it. Embrace the simplicity and tranquility of the island, and take advantage of the amenities and services provided to ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit.


Ticket Price

When planning a trip to Bulls Island, it’s important to consider the ticket price for the ferry ride. The cost of the ferry ticket varies depending on factors such as age, residency, and seasonality.


Adult tickets for the Bulls Island ferry ride are typically priced between $40 and $50 per person. Children under a certain age, usually 12 years old and younger, may qualify for a discounted ticket price. It’s always a good idea to check with the ferry company or the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge for the most up-to-date pricing and any available promotions or discounts.


Residents of South Carolina may be eligible for special rates or discounts on the ferry ticket. Proof of residency, such as a valid South Carolina driver’s license or identification card, may be required to avail these discounts. It’s recommended to inquire about any resident-specific pricing when booking your ferry ride to Bulls Island.


It’s worth noting that the ticket price typically includes the round-trip ferry ride to Bulls Island. Visitors can spend the entire day exploring the island and enjoying its natural beauty before returning to the mainland on the designated ferry. The duration of the stay on Bulls Island is not limited, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in its wonders.


Booking your ferry tickets in advance is highly recommended, as availability may be limited, especially during peak travel seasons. Reservations can usually be made online or by contacting the ferry company directly. By securing your tickets in advance, you can ensure a seamless and hassle-free experience.


Keep in mind that the ticket price for the ferry ride covers the transportation to and from Bulls Island, as well as the opportunity to view the breathtaking scenery and wildlife along the way. Additional activities or services, such as guided tours or equipment rentals, may incur separate charges. It’s advisable to inquire about these options when booking your ferry tickets to enhance your Bulls Island experience.


By considering the ticket price and making the necessary arrangements in advance, you can embark on a memorable journey to Bulls Island, immersing yourself in the beauty of the South Carolina coast and creating lasting memories of your visit.



The Bulls Island ferry ride offers an incredible opportunity to explore the untouched beauty and natural wonders of South Carolina’s coast. As you embark on this scenic journey, you’ll be immersed in breathtaking views of marshes, creeks, and coastal ecosystems. The ferry ride itself is an adventure, filled with informative commentary from the knowledgeable crew.


Upon reaching Bulls Island, visitors are greeted with miles of pristine sandy beaches and the chance to spot dolphins, birds, and other wildlife. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, birdwatcher, or someone seeking a serene escape, Bulls Island offers an unforgettable experience.


Although Bulls Island is remote, amenities and services are available on the ferry, including seating areas and restrooms. It’s essential to come prepared with food, water, and other essentials for your day on the island.


The ticket price for the ferry ride to Bulls Island varies depending on factors such as age, residency, and seasonality. It’s recommended to book your tickets in advance to secure your spot and plan your trip accordingly.


In conclusion, a voyage on the Bulls Island ferry is a not-to-be-missed adventure for those seeking to connect with nature and explore the hidden gems of South Carolina. From the scenic views during the ride to the opportunity to witness diverse wildlife and soak in the untouched beauty of the island, Bulls Island promises a unique and memorable experience for every visitor.


So, grab your camera, pack your picnic, and prepare for a journey that will leave you with lasting memories of the natural splendor of Bulls Island.