Carolina Comfort: Falling Hard For Montage Palmetto Bluff

South Carolina’s Lowcountry comes alive along the scenic maze of waterways that surround Palmetto Bluff. Kayaking along one of the serene tributaries that feed the May River at low tide, I glide by a school of shellfish putting on quite a show and drag my paddle to take it all in. A clump of intertidal mollusks on an exposed oyster bed are taking turns spitting small jets of water from their sharp lips. It’s like the Bellagio fountains in miniature. A couple minutes later, the peduncle tail of an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin splashes just ten meters from the bow of my boat and I quickly paddle after her to get a better look when she resurfaces.

If spending time communing with nature while still being able to hit the spa afterwards piques your interest, there’s a lot more where that came from on this amenity filled property set on a secluded 20,000-acre coastal nature preserve. Roughly just eleven miles outside of Hilton Head in Bluffton, the Montage Palmetto Bluff richly deserves its status as South Carolina’s top of the leaderboard resort. Accommodations run the gamut from super luxe AAA 5 Diamond Inn rooms with ritzy marble bathrooms equipped with clawfoot deep soaking tubs to dreamy lagoon and river side Southern cottages decked out with wet bars and steam showers.

There is a team of six Palmetto Bluff Conservancy experts on staff including an onsite archaeologist and wild life manager. Recent research initiatives include a bat blitz to take a census of the nocturnal flying mammals along with similar survey efforts to document the area populations of gators, turtles, and white-tailed deer.  Guests are welcome to join these experts in the field on guided eco-tours, owl prowls, hikes in the woods, history walks, and many other tailored explorations of the expansive grounds. Peruse the conservancy’s 2019 Calendar for a full listings of planned excursions as well as the topics for their popular first Friday and brown bag lunch lecture series.

Sharpen your aim game
Spend an afternoon splattering clays at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club which features a baker’s dozen sporting clays stations routed through a 40-acre forest. Pro-tip: first timers who’ve never yelled “pull” in their life would best be served getting acclimated to getting a bead on moving targets and quickly reducing them to orange dust on the facilities elevated and covered 5-stand first. The hawk-eyed staff is pretty adept at turning trigger shy newbies into clay smoking beasts. If bows and arrows are more your speed the club grounds also sports an archery area for those looking to pierce some bulls-eyes.

Another aim game to dabble in while you’re on property is bocce, the Italian team bowling game is a cinch to pick-up and takes a lifetime to master and is great fun for the whole family There are courts overlooking the May River and also adjacent to the Wilson Lawn & Racquet Club. Golfers will be itching to roll balls on the fast and firm greens of May River, one of the crown jewels of Jack Nicklaus’ illustrious golf course portfolio. The course is framed by loblolly pines, over a century old live-oaks adorned with Spanish moss, and the occasional stand of perky palmetto trees. Many of the white sand bunkers are ornamented with indigenous grasses, not only adding a visual pop to holes but also making golfers even more reticent than usual about sending their ball on a trip to the beach. If you’re looking for the ultimate selfie spot there are myriad options but the tee box on No. 14, the par-3 signature hole which runs parallel to the course’s namesake river is pretty prime. If a snack attack strikes mid-round be sure to take advantage of the comfort stations on the 6th and 15th hole. They stock complimentary boiled eggs along with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to garnish them. And yes, I can now attest that a couple of eggs certainly do the golf swing good.

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

A card-carrying member of the leisure cognoscenti when Mike Dojc isn’t repairing impossibly large divots or alphabetizing his impressive ball marker collection, he’s slinging copy for a diverse range of editorial and corporate entities. Highlights of his client roster include Nike, Geico, Maxim, Metro News, CAA, AAA, Men’s Fashion, Huffington Post, Golf Canada, Fairways Magazine, Back 9 Network, and many others. He blogs at SlingingBirdies.com

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