It can be argued that the sapphire-blue heart of the Lowcountry is the 11,000-acre Lake Marion.
Its diamond-sparkled waters shine under a sea of Carolina sunshine and it is crowned by a spacious deep green forest of stranded cypress trees where the shrill cry of nesting osprey remind you that the wild lies closer to home than you think.
One of the best ways to experience this world of beauty and outdoor recreation is Santee State Park.
This 2500-acre park dominates the north shore of Lake Marion, providing access to the lake, an experience in nature and a convenient short ride from Bluffton.
Two campgrounds, spacious cabins, hiking and biking trails as well as a fully-equipped boat landing and pier make this a destination to suit any taste of visitor.
Whether you are coming up for a day or to stay a while longer, you will not be disappointed.
Santee State Park is located in the middle of Santee Cooper country and was founded in 1942 as the massive works project of digging Lake Marion was underway.
World War II cut short the lakeâ€™s harvest of old growth cypress swamp and this pause created a sylvan wonderland combining a large recreational and utility reservoir while preserving a flooded forest for wildlife and adventure.
Santee State Park is well situated to access the lake and allow visitors an enjoyable environment to relax in the outdoors. Two well-ordered campgrounds provide full access to RV or tent camping and 30 modern cabins, including ten located atop a pier over the lake that have been constructed for modern comfort and enjoyment.
In short, Santee State Park has all the comforts of home in the middle of the great outdoors.
After a hike or a ride on the mountain bike trail, relax by your tent or camper in the campground or on the porch of you cabin on the lake. The lake is the true purpose of your visit, though. Two boat ramps provide access to craft of all types. Canoe or kayak across the lake to the cypress forest where water fowl and alligator peer at you between the trees or launch a power boat for a day of fishing or tubing.
Recently, my family and friends and I visited Santee State Park. My family spent an enjoyable weekend tent camping in a comfortable site overlooking the lake. We took our jon boat into the lake where the kids enjoyed fishing and exploring the water.
I have kayaked with friends on numerous occasions and here is where you can truly experience nature. We watched as an osprey caught and enjoyed a lunch of bass while perched atop a dead tree â€“ while a large alligator hungrily circled the base counting on the raptor to drop its prey and enable an easy meal.
Acres of lily pads and pure white flowers provide a living carpet while Spanish moss gently sways in the Lowcountry breeze. One visit to Santee State Park and you will be hooked for life.
Santee State Park is located at 251 State Park Rd. in Santee, South Carolina.
This is an easy hour and forty-five minute ride up I-95 from Bluffton and the entrance is off Hwy 6 close to the interstate. From I-95 take Exit 98 left for SC-6 toward Santee. At 2.5 miles take a right onto State Park Rd. following signs for Santee State Park.
You will pass the park entrance and at 1.8 miles you will encounter the lakeside headquarters, pier, store and parking area.
Santee State Park is open year-round from 6am-10pm daily and day-use admission is $2 per adult with discounts for seniors, children and others.
The price of camping and cabins varies and, although there are plenty of sites and space, you may consider booking in advance due to availability of these popular features.
There are educational and adventure programs year-round as well as kayak and canoe rental at the lake.
For more info or to inquire about making overnight reservations call 803-854-2408 or visit https://southcarolinaparks.com/santee.