It may be hard to believe there are still wild spaces left in Beaufort County, what with Hilton Head Island’s resort polish, Bluffton’s up-and-coming downhome charms and the city of Beaufort’s historic structures. Even Daufuskie Island, defined by its isolation, has golf courses.
But just behind Daufuskie you’ll find a chain of nine islands whose untamed forests and 360-degree views of pure “uncivilization” let you breathe in the Sea Islands that once were.
And if you happen to get a little closer to the other team members on your business trip while you’re there, all the better.
Page Island, as this archipelago is called, has been owned in part or in whole by Outside Hilton Head since 1999. The company added a few modern touches — boardwalks connecting the islands, outdoor venues for meetings, a completely off-the-grid solar and rain-powered kitchen and a pair of obstacle courses — but the rest is the way nature intended it to be.
It’s often the obstacle courses that are the attraction for the Fortune 100 companies who have visited the island for team-building activities.
“Over the last 15 years, we’ve had some portion of every Fortune 100 company out here, plus a lot of local groups,” said Outside Hilton Head founder Mike Overton. “Plus, it’s set up as a great Lowcountry outpost. We have fishing gear, crabbing and a great functional facility for more than 200 people.”
At nearly 40 acres, there’s much more to Page Island than just team-building. The 100-foot-dock means that ships from powerboats to larger charter craft like the Vagabond and Spirit of Harbour Town can make berth here. The result is that anyone looking to host an event can get out there on one of Outside Hilton Head’s 27 ships and create something special.
“The most common comment we get from people when they land is ‘Wow, I feel like I just landed on the set of ‘Survivor,’ ’ ” said Outside Hilton Head founder Mike Overton. “It’s a gorgeous location and you look around and see nothing manmade.”
That majestic view of nature is married with an eco-friendly respect for nature (fueled partly by practicality — it’s tricky to get power lines out to an island chain in the middle of nowhere).
“We have very specifically not tapped into any traditional conventional power or water,” Overton said, noting that the outpost is powered entirely by solar energy, plus a few propane grills in the kitchen. And all of the water for washing up or cleaning gear is provided by rain catchment run through gravity pumps.
Page Island is open to the elements, and Hurricane Matthew wasn’t kind to it. The island was devastated by the storm, but Outside Hilton Head was quick to rebuild.
“I got to Page Island a little before noon (the day after the storm). The walkways were gone, we’d lost two miles of pathways and we’d lost the shelters,” Overton said. “But the upside is, everything’s brand new now. We have all-new shelters and all-new docks.”
And now, with new facilities in place, Page Island is ready to welcome new guests to the uncivilized world just a short boat ride away.