Friday 22 November 2019
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Weekend Whim : Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort

story and photos by Miranda Osborn
If you want to get licked by a deer, go visit a tiny little stretch of land – a roughly six-square mile barrier island – nestled between Hunting Island, St. Helena Island and Lady’s Island along the Atlantic coast in beautiful Beaufort County, South Carolina.
It’s an oasis lost to time with a population of under 1,000 during the off season behind its private gates. During tourist season, the island’s population can rise to about 5,000 due to the influx in visitors. Some of the houses in the quaint, early parts of town look like they are from the sixties, but don’t let their facades fool you – Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort is bursting with life. Just under four miles of uncrowded beach – although some parts of said beach are fully submerged at high tide – two championship golf courses, tennis courts, kayaking, and oceanfront, marsh and golf view accommodations. There’s actually more golf cart parking than there are spots for cars, and there are more deer than cars (and seemingly humans) as well! Unlike some other islands in the area, cars and trucks are allowed on roads and streets, but golf carts are the prevalent method of transportation.
The island has had many names during its history, but it’s presently named after Captain Johannes Fripp, a British sailor charged with protecting the Carolina colony from Spanish attacks. Local folklore history has long suspected Fripp to be the location where Edward Teach, the pirate known as Blackbeard, had stowed away some of his treasures. The Vietnam War scenes from the movie Forrest Gump (1994) were also filmed on Fripp Island.
There’s new life coming to Fripp, however. Generations of families – some of whom have come for 20-plus years straight – are building new houses for their children, for retirement, or renovating childhood vacation homes of their own. After the addition of the second golf course, it was set in stone that the island would not undergo any future expansion, yet nearly one-third of the lots on the island remain undeveloped.
It’s a place where families can relax, make and relive memories or soak up some sun. It’s 21 miles from Beaufort, 96 miles south of Charleston, and 65 miles north of Savannah, making it a perfect getaway for those wanting to take a break, explore and leave the world behind. An interesting fact, Bermuda actually lies 900 miles due east of Fripp Island.
The Beach Club Restaurant, Ocean View Sports Bar, Bonito Boathouse, Ocean Point Grille, Cabana Club Restaurant and The 19th Hole make up the majority of the island’s dining prospects, and everyone gathers at the point on the north-westerly side of the island to watch the sun go down as children play in the lap pools created by the restless tide. There are rock and steel formations stretched all along the beach to protect the sand from erosion and storms. They add to the landscape – mostly loblolly pine trees (a southern yellow pine) – make great backdrops for family photos with the setting sun behind, illuminating everyone in golden-hour glow.
Jetties from houses butt up to the dunes with unassuming gangplank-style walkways to the soft sand below, not wanting to detract from the beautiful simplicity that makes up the views of the ocean. There’s also an amazing abandoned house on its own island just across the way from the westerly point of the island whose foundations of aged wooden pilons get engulfed day in and day out when the tide comes in and beats against them. It has stayed through every hurricane the island has seen in as many years as it can remember, yet none of the locals seem to know the history of it.
It’s a beautiful island, untouched by time and commercialism. No contract business can be done on the island on Sundays, in fact; they take relaxation seriously in this part of the world. A short hop down the road is Hunting Island State Park, and although ravaged since the last two hurricanes came through which altered the terrain of the beach forever, the stoic black and white lighthouse stands at attention in the island’s park, an inviting presence watching over visitors to the location.
The whole area is renowned for its natural conservation – hence the friendliest wildlife one has probable ever seen. Deer will literally let you pet them, photograph them, and meander alongside your golf cart. They seem unaware of the human presence on “their” island and are amazing to behold. In 1978, Fripp’s residents also lobbied for more conservancy, and the entire island is an Audubon-designated bird preserve.
So come for a day, a weekend, or simply just be. Come and get lost in time with those that call the island home or be by yourself and watch the rising or setting sun. Stroke a deer’s antlers, or simply relish in forgotten simplicity. Whatever you chose, Fripp Island is a wonderful place to get away and forget about the world for a while, or a lifetime.

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