Photographing South Carolina’s Botany Bay

South Carolina’s Botany Bay remains one of the most memorable locations I photographed during a two week solo roadtrip in USA’s southern states SC,NC and GA. To be honest, it had also been my most anticipated location after I began planning the trip – and it’s not without reason.

About Botany Bay

Botany Bay is a 4000 acre wildlife preserve located on Edisto Island offering unique woods, wetlands, fields and a stunning beach. The area is also home to various animals such as deers, snakes, alligators (I even got to see a few of these close by!) and endangered turtles.

Ice House at Botany Bay Plantation in SC

During the last years Edisto Island and Botany Bay has become a popular location among photographers but it’s still a place where you can enjoy the sunrise by yourself and not have to worry about stepping into someone else’s frame.

Photographing Botany Bay

The Botany Bay Plantation has a lot to offer when it comes to landscape photography. You can easily spend several hours (like I did) walking, or driving, around the area.

Botany Bay Road and Botany Bay Beach, however, is the main attraction of Edisto Island. According to the GPS it only takes 5-10 minutes to drive on the dirt road before you reach the plantation entrance. In my case, it took over 30 minutes. In the end I parked my car on the roadside and walked back and fort as the scenery was so impressive.


Early morning and late evening is the best time to photograph the road which is surrounded by Live Oak trees covered in Spanish Moss. At this time the sun is in a low position and its soft light lets through the branches.

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Even though the road will take your breath away, Botany Bay Beach is what many consider the highlight of Edisto Island.

Botany Bay SC
Sunrise at Botany Bay Beach

The large naked trees standing in the ocean gives many opportunities for landscape & outdoor photographers or nature lovers. (As a Norwegian I must admit I also enjoyed the being able to stand in the water without getting cold!)

Most compositions benefit from facing east, so sunrise is the best time to photograph the beach. However, you might get some nice backlight during sunset.

Opening Hours & Accessibility

Unfortunately, the gates don’t open before sunrise or about 30 minutes before. That means you don’t have a lot of time scouting the area before the sun rises above the horizon. Expect to spend about 20 minutes (5 min driving and 15 walking) from the plantation entrance until you reach the beach. I strongly recommend visiting one day prior to sunrise to get familiar with the location.

Botany Bay SC
Botany Bay Beach

Entrance is free but a $5 donation is welcomed to help preserve the area. If there’s nobody by the gate when you enter I strongly recommend you to give a small donation.

The dirt road can be nearly impossible to drive on after heavy rain. Keep this in mind when visiting and if the dirt road is muddy make sure you have a car that will make its way through.

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