Five Great Beach Getaways and Nature Retreats on the South Strand

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Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort is a peaceful retreat in its own right, with 600 acres of white-sand beaches, golf and tennis facilities, swimming pools and a spa, and hiking and biking trails where you can always find some relaxation and tranquility.

But to really escape to a secluded stretch of beach or an isolated spot amid the woodlands and wetlands, you have to know a few secret and not-so-secret locales on the south end of the Grand Strand. Located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, here are five beautiful places that are off the beaten path — or at least big enough to get lost — where you can disappear for a day:

* Brookgreen Gardens: Located just two miles north of Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, this 9,100-acre botanical sculpture garden is the oldest and largest on the East Coast. That means there is plenty of room to roam and get away from the crowds, especially if you venture away from the main gardens. A plantation tour allows visitors to hike deep into the woods to find the former plantation home, slave quarters and barns, and boat tours take passengers deep into the salt marshes and old rice fields. Visit on Wednesdays and Fridays and enjoy the Cool Summer Evenings Concert Series on a blanket away from the stage under the stars.

* Bulls Island: This unique escape requires a 40-mile drive south and a short ferry ride through Bulls Bay. Once you arrive, you will feel like you have arrived in another world back in time. The small barrier island remains uninhabited and has been preserved as a bird sanctuary and protected seashore. Walk to the beach and the Boneyard, a twisted forest of bleached wood that reveals itself at low tide. There is lots of room for hiking and bird-watching in an awe-inspiring environment.

* Hobcaw Barony: This former plantation has been preserved by the Belle Baruch Trust and serves as a nature and history education center for school field trips and history buffs. But with more than 16,000 acres of Lowcountry landscape to explore, it's easy to find some peace and quiet in a secluded spot and admire the scenery. Hobcaw Barony is situated on a peninsula called the Waccamaw Neck, which stretches from Winyah Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Tours of the property are available, but a self-guided one is even better.

* Huntington Beach State Park: This seaside nature park is only two miles south of Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort and offers a diverse list of landscapes. Featuring more than 350 acres of old-growth maritime forests, picturesque salt marshes and towering dunes along the white-sand beaches, Huntington Beach State Park is worth the small price of admission to find some peace and tranquility. Amid the natural options is the manmade Atalaya Castle, a Spanish-style structure that overlooks the ocean.

* Sandy Island: Unlike the barrier islands of South Carolina, Sandy Island is located inland at the convergence of several ocean-bound rivers. Settled by former slaves and a center for Gullah culture, this secluded island is home to a small community that gets around entirely by boat, including the children who ride a school boat to the mainland. Sandy Island is tough to get to, which is part of its appeal, but trips are offered by Tours de Sandy Island via boat or kayaks.

After escaping reality for a day, head back to Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort for a little more rest and relaxation. We look forward to helping you find your slice of paradise in our little corner of the South Carolina coast.