South Carolina's beaches and sandy isles are the perfect places to escape to once summer hits. From secluded beachfronts to remote islands, there's a little something for everyone to enjoy. One island in South Carolina is a paradise for animal lovers, where you can watch wild monkeys roam the coast that they've called home for over 40 years.

You'll find Morgan Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina where it's home to over 3,000 monkeys today.

While you can't actually step foot on the island's shores to explore it, visitors can admire these creatures in the wild aboard a boat and even kayak to a nearby sandbar to observe from a safe distance. No trespassing is allowed.

If you happen to be visiting Edisto Island nearby, you can pop over to this island's waters for a unique double adventure as you watch them jump from tree to tree or bathe in the beachside waters.

Launching a boat or kayak from Eddings Point Boat Landing on St. Helena Island is going to be the easiest way to get close to Morgan Island, according to CHS Today.

Monkeys aren't native to North America though, so why are they there?

According to CHS Today, the former mayor of Beaufort, and public medical journals, the original 1,400 rhesus monkeys were shipped by the Caribbean Primate Research Center in La Parguera, Puerto Rico in 1979 to the island as a breeding colony to fulfill the needs of their research center.

However, research never actually occurred on the island.

The 4,000+ acre island is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The monkeys were, and still are, free to roam the island as they please, uninterrupted by human visitors.

Charles River Laboratories, Inc. leases about 400-acres on Morgan Island from the DNR to give these wild animals their current home.

These primates are most active during the morning hours, so the best chance to see them monkeying around is right after the sun rises. From the boat landing, it's only about a 5-mile, 15-minute ride to admire them from the sea. 

Morgan Island 

Price: Free

Address: Morgan Island, SC 

Why You Need To Go: This island is full of free-roaming monkies and visitors can kayak or boat close to the island to observe them from a safe distance.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.


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