For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it’s always our self we find in the sea.e.e.cummings
The North End of Pawleys Island, SC might be known as the wild child of this “blessed isle.” After all, the North End, with its wider, white sand beach, seems to stretch endlessly without boundaries, expanding even further into the sea at low tide.
Unlike the houses at the South End that now look out over a newly renourished beach, houses at the North End are set back from the ocean — and always have been. But they still access the beach. Long wooden walkways provide the connection as they stretch endlessly (it seems) toward the horizon.
In the early morning hours, people on the North End walk the beach, surf, or set up fishing poles in the hope that there will be fish a-jumpin’ between the North End of Pawleys and the southern tip of Litchfield that you can see in the distance.
At sundown, people gather on the soft white sand (remember, this end of Pawleys hasn’t been renourished yet) to play, talk with family and friends, or walk out onto sandbars at low tide.
If shelling is your game, then you must go north at Pawleys. And most people do. Shells are almost non-existent on the South End, but plentiful on the North.
Recently, the South End has been renourished, which explains why shell seekers have had a hard time finding any PI shells there. According to John Henry Longmire who makes silver castings of Pawleys Island shells for his shop Longmire Jewelers, “You can’t find ’em much any more on the South End. The new sand has covered them all up!” Thus the migration to the North for those who are intent on finding these gems of the sea.
My limited shell seeking experience this year, even on the North End, netted me no PI shells — but perhaps these treasured little shells could be tied up in debris washed ashore by Hurricane Isaias. The hurricane did indeed leave its mark on the North End: debris washed up on the beach, and huge chunks of sand broke off the dunes, destroying several of the wooden walkways.
To us, the best time to visit the North End is sundown, simply because you get a better view of the golden hour there. Drive north to the end of Pawleys, park at Shell Road access, and meander the sand pathway to the beach. It’s a long, uneven route, but the panoramic view of sand, ocean, and big sky when you get there will be reward enough.
And, if you want a really good shot (which I never seem to be able to manage), set your camera so that even when you shoot into the sun, you’re able to capture the beauty of the North End bathed in the last light of day. Then, with your back to the ocean, say good night to the Blessed Isle.
Celebrate the sea,
Rusha & Bert
Please check out our other posts on Pawleys Island: