The Lowcountry Oyster Trail Comes to the Hilton Head Area

By Allison Hersh

Hilton Head Island’s iconic mollusks take center stage as part of this new culinary heritage experience.

“May River oysters are close to perfection!” – Pat Conroy, author of “Price of Tides”, “Beach Music” and “The Water Is Wide”

The new Lowcountry Oyster Trail is an experiential tourism, economic development and environmental conservation initiative celebrating the tasty bivalves that are legendary along the South Carolina coast. Inspired by the Virginia Oyster Trail, the local version focuses on food, fun, discovery and sustainability and will eventually run from Charleston to Savannah and beyond.

“The Lowcountry Oyster Trail is an exciting multi-faceted economic development concept highlighting wild and farm-raised oysters and much more,” says trail founder, entrepreneur and Bluffton resident Larry Hughes. “We also plan to shine a deserved spotlight on the men and women who grow, harvest, shuck, prepare, cook and serve Lowcountry oysters.”

Here are five facts to help you make the most of this bivalve-inspired experience:

  1. The Lowcountry Oyster Trail is a new “aquatourism” initiative that officially launched in the fall of 2017. The trail highlights the region’s legendary oysters, as well as their growing role in the popular “sea-to-fork” culinary movement.
  2. South Carolina’s Lowcountry is home to miles of rivers, salt marshes and creeks rich with Crassostrea virginica, also known as the eastern oyster. The coastal region provides the perfect environment for growing briny, wild-harvest clusters or premium, farm-raised single selects.
  3. The trail guides residents and visitors to area restaurants, wine bars, outdoor adventure sites, museums, historic sites and cultural destinations. A wide range of packages and immersive experiences are available for residents and visitors of all ages.
  4. Partners in the trail include oyster growers, restaurants, bars, hoteliers, educational attractions, cultural destinations and retailers. Each partner displays a plaque identifying them as part of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail and as a steward of the Trail experience.
  5. Supporters can help ensure oyster preservation. A portion of net profits will be used to promote and enhance marine ecological research, analysis and environmental stewardship for the region. The SC Lowcountry Oyster Trail Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting oyster preservation and marine ecosystem research.

Learn more at lowcountryoystertrail.org.

EAT MORE OYSTERS

In February, don’t miss these Lowcountry culinary events, which showcase local bivalves—as well as other delicious favorites—as part of the 2018 Hilton Head Seafood Festival. Advance tickets are available at hiltonheadseafoodfestival.com.

Lowcountry Seafood Experience on the Water

  • February 19-22 – 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, 1 Hudson Rd.
  • Hilton Head Island
  • This two-hour excursion includes instruction on shrimping, oystering, clamming and crabbing with Lowcountry watermen Christopher and Matthew Shoemaker. After the work is done, enjoy the fruits of your labor at Hudson’s.

Pig Pickin’ + Oyster Roast

  • February 23 – 6-9 p.m.
  • Waddell Mariculture Center, 211 Sawmill Creek Rd.  Bluffton
  • The quintessential, Lowcounty family-style culinary celebration, where the Island’s best chefs, celebrity guest chefs and pitmasters prepare local shrimp, whole hogs, whole chickens, chopped BBQ and all the trimmings. Wash it all down with brews, wines and signature cocktails and live music.

Seafood, Champagne + Gullah Sunday Brunch

  • February 25 – 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 pm
  • Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, 1 Hudson Rd.
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Live music, bottomless Bloody Mary Bar and brunch combine for the perfect waterfront experience. A special menu includes Southern classics, as well as new dishes, along with raw bar and beverage stations.

The Outside Foundation also hosts a benefit for its Kids in Kayaks Scholarship Program this February. Tickets include food, beverages and round-trip boat transportation provided by Vagabond Cruises from Harbour Town to private Page Island and may be purchased online at outsidefoundation.org.

Page Island Oyster Roast

  • February 25 – 2-5:30 p.m.
  • Food and oysters from the Bluffton Seafood Company, music by members of the Lowcountry Boil Band, live and silent auctions, games and fun for children and adults to benefit The Outside Foundation’s Kids in Kayaks Scholarship Program.