As you approach Parris Island, you'll drive over bridges that cover a carpet of deep green salt marsh, you'll notice hardworking shrimp boats docked at nearby Port Royal, majestic palms, and a strong sense of peacefulness. There's no doubt that you'll find it difficult to believe that this island is home to one of the most challenging experiences anyone can face- Marine Corp basic training.
Parris Island is home to the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot (locals simply call it Parris Island). Training of Marines began here in 1915. Today, as making of a Marine remains a critical job, nearly 20,000 young men and women receive training here every year.
Although Parris Island is famous for the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot, there's more to discover on the 8,000 acre island than how to become a Marine.
The Parris Island Museum presents the history of Parris Island from prehistoric times to the present. This educational and entertaining museum is a wonderful place to discover the Island's long history. Displays highlight Native Americans, 16th century Spanish and French settlements, and the significant role the area played during the American Revolution and the Civil War. Of course, there is also much to learn about Marine Corps history.
Perhaps the most interesting attraction on Parris Island is the site of two of the earliest settlements discovered in the entire US; Charlesfort (a 1562 French settlement) and Santa Elena (a 1566 Spanish village.) This site is a National Historic Landmark. The remains of Spanish forts San Felipe and San Marcos can be seen here. A nature/history trail completes the attraction.
When driving from the north, take I-95 exit 33, and follow the signs to Parris Island. When arriving from the south, take I-95 exit 8 (US 278) and follow the signs to Parris Island. You will enter Parris Island through a security gate, and receive a visitor's pass. You may be asked to present a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Visitors are allowed on Parris Island from 6am until 6 pm daily.