Russ Fielden climbed aboard his boat during the holiday season, used the craft’s enclosure and propane heater and cruised northern Beaufort County’s waterways in solitude.
As in, he didn’t see another boat on the 65-mile trip.
The Lady’s Island resident and real estate agent said that sort og privacy is what clients are craving when they seek to buy one of Beaufort County’s private islands.
Whether the island serves a modest fish camp or grandiose family compound, the network of marshes and waterways makes the area uniquely suited to those with the means to go off the grid, Fielden said.
“I think the biggest draw is for some sort of retreat, to get away and cut the cord, so to speak,” said Fielden, whose family has had a fish camp on Fripp Inlet for decades. “It’s pretty remote.”
One of Fielden’s listings, a 41-acre waterfront estate on northern Lady’s Island known as Lucy Point, is under contract after years on the market. While not technically an island, it includes a 6-acre tract with almost 360 degrees of water and marsh frontage.
The soon-to-be owners plan to maintain the property’s natural feel and perhaps use the land as a family compound, Fielden said.
There are options in Beaufort County for those with the cash and desire to get away to a private island.
Sales don’t often move quickly. And that’s to be expected, experts say.
“Any high-end plantation property or island has a very small pool of buyers with the ability and interest in spending this type of money, so it takes longer than a typical sale.,” said Jason Burbage, a partner and broker in charge at National Land Realty. ”... It’s not uncommon for these properties to be on the market for a year or multiple years until it sells.”
Burbage listed Savage Island, near Bluffton, back in August.
The 400-acre property is comprised of five main islands and 18 hammock islands, surrounded by approximately 1800 acres of marshlands. The $5.95 million listing includes a four-bedroom main island house and manager’s house on the island, as well as a waterfront manager’s house located on the mainland in Bluffton.
It also includes a tractor shed, 10-dog kennel and a shop building. If a boat ride to the island isn’t your thing, there’s a spot to land a helicopter.
Five more houses and four more docks are permitted to be built on the island.
And while the pool of clients might be limited, the market is healthy, Burbage said. Owners of some private retreats in Beaufort County are looking to sell.
Among other islands available nearby are:
▪ Pine Island: A causeway connects a 400-acre plantation on mainland St. Helena Island to 77-acre Pine Island. The property has been the getaway for owner Harry Hanna’s family for the past 50 years. Hunting, fishing, crabbing, water skiing and tranquil shrimp boat views are among the selling points.
Buildings include a hunting lodge used for family gatherings, a caretaker’s house, a cottage and a barn.
Bobby Stokes, Hanna’s son-in-law, declined to say how much the family is asking for the land. But he said they hope the unique property goes to another family to enjoy the same way and remains shielded from development.
The property is protected from storms and tides by 20-foot bluffs, Stokes said.
“There’s very few, if any, types of property like this on the East Coast, because of the spectacular view,” he said. “You can see for miles and miles...It’s a peaceful environment.”
▪ Grangers Retreat: The 27.6-acre island on St. Helena was listed this month. Up to 10 individual lots are for sale, or a single buyer can own the island for $1.75 million.
The undeveloped island includes a dock and also a dock and parking area on the mainland adjacent to the public Wallace Boat Landing. The real estate listing touts a “magical opportunity” to own a place to relax after a day of golf or boating.
The property is ideal for one owner wanting a secluded getaway or a developer who envisions a small waterfront project, realtor Sheila Bell said.
▪ Rose Island: Adjacent to Lemon Island off of S.C. 170, 110 acres of high ground has been annexed into the town of Port Royal. The property includes a 2,000 square-foot home with gourmet kitchen and pool, walking trails, generator and well.
A development agreement allows for 20 waterfront lots. The property went back on the market last year for $2.95 million.
“Think of this as an opportunity for a totally private retreat, a luxury fishing destination or a totally secluded low density development,” the listing says.
▪ Cherry Hill Knoll Island: A 30-acre island off of St. Helena offers views of nearby Fripp, Hunting and Harbor islands and access to pristine fishing grounds. At $499,500, it’s a relative bargain compared with some others in Beaufort County.
So what options are there for those of us without millions tucked away for an island playground?
There is Hunting Island, one of the most visited state parks with 5,000 acres of forest, trails, beach and camping. And the state recently snatched up nearby St. Phillips Island, the former private retreat for media mogul Ted Turner and his family.
Plans for public access to the compound are still being fleshed out, but it’s a good bet for the right rental price, your next family vacation could include sitting on the wide screen porch of the island’s main house. In other words, you can live like the Turners for a fraction of the cost.
Just keep it to yourself.
“When people ask me about the Lowcountry and the island and what it’s like, I tell them about all the bugs and the humidity and tell them they wouldn’t like it,” Teddy Turner, Ted Turner’s son, told The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet in 2015. “We gotta keep this paradise a secret.”