Palmetto Bluff is Stunning—Just Steer Clear of Alligators

Palmetto Bluff’s creation story sounded suspiciously like “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.” Jay Walea, Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Director, explained, as he gave an informative and zealous, behind-the-scenes tour of the resort’s 20,000 acres, “We plant a special high-protein blend of grass to attract certain insects that, in turn, draw desired bird species, namely turkeys. By targeting a specific bird you end up with a whole, desirable ecosystem with a balanced biodiversity, one that also happens to keep the hunters happy.”

Photo by Adam Chase

Walea’s words were in the back of my mind later that day as I kayaked by an inland island and slowed to take a picture of Snowy Egrets sitting in the lush trees. I spotted what I thought was large dinosaur statue. Or at least I thought it was a statue until it started moving towards me and I realized it was a 10-foot-long alligator who may have viewed me as a high-protein blended feed. Not that I stuck around long enough to find out—my paddle stroke has never been faster.

Supreme Training Grounds

I visited Palmetto Bluff to run the impressive resort’s first full-length marathon, the Palmetto Bluff Marathon. They also offer a half marathon and 10K. Having put on successful races in the past, they know how to organize a top-notch race. The flat course winds its way through the community’s scenic maze of rivers, islands and maritime forests and, since it is held in early March, the weather is accommodating for a fast, chip-timed Boston qualifier. As the largest waterfront property on the East Coast, Palmetto Bluff is evolving as a community and conservation preserve that is mostly undisturbed.

For those seeking an ideal training venue, especially in the late fall or early spring, Montage Palmetto Bluff offers accommodations, suites, cottages and even grand homes. The lodging is meticulously staged along the May River in this South Carolina paradise, conveniently located between Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head Island. It is a premiere golf, fishing, hunting, sailing, biking, tennis, equestrian, gym, pool, and watersports destination, especially if you like to paddle or swim really fast, thanks to the alligators.

December 9, 2018 is the fifth annual Buffalo Run, a 10k, 30k or 50k looped trail course that benefits the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy. The trail is flat and speedy, except for sandy patches where you’ll feel the burn.

“Lowcountry” Southern Hospitality on High

Perhaps hungry alligators were conspiring to fatten me up (even though locals told me that they aren’t the menace they appear to be), but Southern cookin’ sure is impossible to pass up, even for a vegetarian. It was a good thing I was there to run a marathon.

Not only was the eatin’ good, but the atmosphere of the various dining options at Wilson Village and Moreland Village are casually formal, in a Southern Lowcountry sort of way. Among the many restaurants, I gravitated to Buffalo’s, where you could sit outside and look at Wilson Village’s center or the May River and dine on fried green tomatoes, salads, local craft beer and great pizza. The Octagon Bar & Lounge, at the Bluff was also full of atmosphere, especially when live music is on tap.

Photo by Adam Chase