A few weeks ago, my husband and I headed to Palmetto Bluff for a weekend getaway. While we were there, we participated in the Bluffton Seafood and Arts Festival in Bluffton, SC. This is absolutely one of our favorite festivals (we’ve gone two years in a row) because you can experience over 100 artists, live music and delicious food. Each time we visit Bluffton, we discover something new and love this up-and-coming town even more.
If you ask a local what is a must-do during your visit, they will most likely answer the Bluffton Oyster Company, located at the end of Wharf Street. The Bluffton Oyster Co. sits on reclaimed land right on the May River, built up by more than a hundred years of discarded shells from previous shucking operations. The family owned business remains the last hand-shucking house in the state of South Carolina. Since right now is peak oyster season (mid-September to mid-May), if you stop by in the morning, you’ll probably see up to 12 oyster shuckers hard at work — most of whom are over the age of 65 and have been in the business for their entire life. It’s certainly filled with history and keeps everyone coming back for local fresh seafood.
I had the opportunity to meet Owner, Larry Toomer, during our visit a few weeks ago. We arrived just in time to see a shrimp boat coming to shore and he invited us onto the dock to observe the process–from carefully hauling the shrimp off of the boat to weighing the shellfish. It was a memorable experience to see a 100-year operation at work — confirming that each person involved is an integral part of their community.
We didn’t want to leave empty handed, so in addition to the May River oysters and mussels, we brought back a bucket of oyster shells to make an oyster wreath. Visiting the Buffton Oyster House is a great way to learn about the history of Bluffton with your family, and if you leave with shells, you’ll have a fun DIY project to work on when you get home.
If you’re in town, check out their restaurant, Bluffton Oyster Co.’s Family Seafood House, for some of the best crabs, mussels, and shrimp on the southern coast.
Special thanks to Owners, Tina and Larry Toomer for letting us visit + photograph this special place.
Kelli Boyd Photography