Culture / Travel

South Carolina’s Under-the-Radar Lowcountry Retreat — It’s Not Hilton Head or Charleston, and That’s a Good Thing

Getting Lost in the Oaks and Spanish Moss of Palmetto Bluff, Where Porching Rules

BY // 01.21.19
photography Photos courtesy of Palmetto Bluff

Porching (verb): the art of enjoying the ultimate activity of leisure involving basking in the cool Southern breeze on the porch of a gorgeous plantation style dwelling — often accompanied by (but not limited to) a refreshing beverage and good old fashion conversation.

Under the mossy oaks of the South Carolina Lowcountry lies an under the radar luxury retreat where porching is of the utmost importance. Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina is the ultimate swanky Southern escape complete with outdoor excursions, foodie delights and leisure aplenty.

Nestled quietly between Charleston and Savannah, this recently revamped, up and coming gem is giving nearby Southern staple destinations Hilton Head and Sea Island a run for their money. The 20,000 acres of evolving residential community and conservation preserve boast the largest remaining waterfront property on the East Coast with 32 miles of riverfront, primarily on the May River.

These mystical acres play host to an extensive playground of indulgent experiences perfect for vacation frolicking including miles of nature trails, five star accommodations, an 18 hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, a shooting club, equestrian facilities, fishing outposts and a vibrant village center complete with river access, boat storage and a canoe club.

Montage Palmetto Bluff Pool
The Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort and Spa offers a playground full of amenities.

The AAA Five Diamond Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort and Spa and Montage’s branded residential offerings, Montage Residences Palmetto Bluff, can serve up some serious Southern comfort.

The picturesque Southern scenes found at Palmetto Bluff  are the epitome of laid-back extravagance. Visitors can get acquainted with the perfectly trained, South Carolina pedigree Labradors who mingle with guests in the famous Octagon Bar of the Montage, settle in by a fire with hot toddy in hand, beneath an intricately carved wooden mantle in a cozy library or make new friends amongst game tables with Southern charmers playing dominoes.


  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North
  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North
  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North
  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North
  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North
  • Post Oak Hotel - 29 Degrees North

Guests can get lost on the endless biking trails of the property and happen upon hidden rope swings in the giant oaks that line the paths. A yachting excursion aboard the resort’s resident antique boat The Grace is a must. A visit with the artist in residence can even provide some creative inspiration.

The epicurean experience is a perfect complement to the level of affluence that the rings throughout the resort. The restaurants of Palmetto Bluff serve up Southern delicacies, libations picked by master sommeliers and beers from Southern craft breweries. There is no shortage of house made pimento cheese and oysters prepared every way thinkable.

The community events scattered throughout calendar further elevate Palmetto Bluff. The mouthwatering Music to Your Mouth Food and Wine Festival each fall attracts James Beard Award winners and master sommeliers who rub elbows with notable musical talent each fall. Each winter, Field and Fire celebrates the land’s heritage of shooting, fishing and sporting dog activities that keep guests coming back for more.

Those Oaks Have Stories

The deep history of Palmetto Bluff is as fervent as the Spanish Moss that drapes itself over the countless oak trees all around.

A successful banker from New York, Richard T Wilson, looking to invest in Southern land, started purchasing up the property and eventually dubbed the peaceful Southern retreat Palmetto Bluff.  Wilson enjoyed the decadence of the South, which remains a theme life here even today.

The ruins of Wilson’s famed mansion still stand and cement walls made of “Tabby” — a special lowcountry mix of cement made with oyster shells (really) — that are scattered about serve as reminders of the area’s history.

The Palmetto Bluff Conservancy was founded in 2003 with a mission to preserve the land in all its glory. Staff archeologist Dr Mary Socci and her team of resident geologists study artifacts found on the property that date back as far as 10,000 B.C. Socci offers workshops and field trips to those wanting to scratch their history buff itch.

Palmetto Bluff Nature Trails
The nature trails of the property will remind you of nature’s extravagant beauty.

Guests and residents can join in on Socci’s cemetery walks to explore the many burial sites for the Revolutionary and Civil War officers who crossed the Bluff at some point — and met their demise. A cemetery of all of the beloved dogs of the Wilson family, complete with named headstones, remains a favorite.

Southern Real Estate

Palmetto Bluff has set out to preserve and protect the treasured landscape while creating unique living opportunities. Palmetto Bluff’s available real estate includes an array of Southern-style residential neighborhood homes ranging from multi-million-dollar legacy family compounds to more traditionally sized, single-family lots.

A Southern style cottage complete with antique heart pine hardwood flooring, custom millwork, multiple fireplaces, claw foot tubs in pristinely tiled bathrooms and most importantly wrap around porches overlooking the river can be snatched up to guarantee a dose of laid-back luxury each and every year.

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