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May River — Bluffton, South Carolina


SC Picture Project  |  Beaufort County  |  May River


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May River

Bluffton is situated on the north bluff of the May River, giving the Beaufort County town its name. The river winds through the Old Town area of Bluffton, which locals call “the last true coastal village of the South.”

May River

Andie Dick of Aiken, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In the heart of Bluffton’s Old Town, one can experience the mystery of the May River with one of the many outfitters that navigate nature lovers along the waterway to view dolphins, catch shrimp, or just enjoy the rhythm of the tides.

Sailboat on the May River in Bluffton

Reggie Murphy of Columbia, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The May River Scenic Byway is an eleven mile historic scenic driving tour that starts at the Jasper/Beaufort county line, on South Carolina Highway 46, and traverses through Bluffton, ending at Brighton Beach. Along the route people can expect to see historic sites such as plantations and churches, oak canopies, marshes, wetlands, and protected scenic areas.

Beaufort County May River

Patty Kappmeyer of Hilton Head, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on the May River


Bluffton’s Russ Greene, who contributed the stunning panorama below, explains why he loves the May River: “The May River is a Bluffton tradition. This picture is taken overlooking the ‘bluff’ from which the town’s name originated. Whether buying fresh seafood from the Bluffton Oyster Company, spending lazy summer afternoons on the sandbar, or fishing off of one of the many docks on its shores, the May River is a local treasure.”

May River Sunset

Russ Greene of Bluffton, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The photo below entitled “Night Music” was contributed by friend of the South Carolina Picture Project Lamar Nix, who hails from nearby Seabrook. Lamar took this photo on a swamp off of the May River and writes, “This is a good example of the kind of bold colors and drama one can get from photographing the night sky after sunset. The reflections in the dark waters served to amplify the drama in the sky, and together suggested the title.”

Lamar Nix of Seabrook © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Kim Holstein, also of Bluffton, submitted this shot and says, “This photo was taken off the Calhoun Street dock facing west down the historic May River. The shrimp boats you see in the distance are docked at the Bluffton Oyster Company, a locally owned family company that still fishes the waters of the May River daily.”

May River

Kim Holstein of Bluffton, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Add your own reflections here.

May River Map

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8 Comments about May River

Jane McDonald says:
September 13th, 2018 at 9:27 am

What is the history of flooding in the Palmetto Bluff area?

Bill Bergin says:
August 18th, 2018 at 8:31 am

I believe at the Calhoun Street dock there is a plaque that states the May River is not really a river. What is it called then? Thank you.

Erma Ellis says:
January 12th, 2018 at 9:24 pm

The photo by Andie Dick is just absolutely gorgeous. The perspective is great and hues are beautiful. Make a good photo for the wall.

SCIWAY says:
October 21st, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Good question! We have noticed that Google Earth tends to label many harbor waterways “Harbor River,” which makes it confusing since there is actually a Harbor River in Beaufort County!

Nick Taylor says:
October 21st, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Why is the map shown on this page titled “May River Map” have the May River labeled “Harbor River”?

SCIWAY says:
August 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

While our website does not have specific information on properties for sale, maybe our real estate guide can lead you to someone in Bluffton: https://www.sciway.net/reloc/ Best of luck!

barbara lorris says:
August 27th, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Could you send me info on real estate for sale on the May River?

Larry L. Miller says:
December 13th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Anyone know the “accepted” length of the May River? I assume the mouth is the Atlantic Ocean. I am compiling a reference book on rivers of the world, currently with ca. 7,500 entries. Thank you.




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