What is the May River?

May River Location

The May River is a picturesque waterway that runs through the heart of Bluffton, South Carolina. The river is approximately 15 miles long and flows into the Calibogue Sound, located between Hilton Head Island and Daufuskie Island. The May River is one of the Lowcountry’s most treasured natural resources, offering a variety of recreational activities, stunning scenery, and a rich history that dates back centuries.

Where does the May River start and end?The May River has played an integral role in Bluffton’s history, serving as a source of livelihood for the region’s early settlers. The river was once a vital transportation route for goods and people, with large oyster boats and paddle-wheel steamers navigating its waters. Today, the river is a popular destination for recreational boating, fishing, kayaking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing. The May River is also known for its beautiful sunsets, where many visitors enjoy the stunning views from the river’s public spaces. 

Boat pulling up to public dock May RiverFor those interested in exploring the May River by boat, several public docks are nearby when traveling by boat. You can find public docks/piers along the May River, including the Alljoy Boat Landing and the Calhoun Street Dock, which offer easy access to the river and its many attractions. Whether you’re an avid boater or simply looking to enjoy the scenery, the May River is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Bluffton.


What kind of fish are in the May River?

Largemouth bass, red drum, spotted sea trout, flounder, sheepshead, black drum, tarpon, jacks, Spanish mackerel, and Bluefish. 


Community Volunteer Opportunity: 22nd Annual May River Cleanup, Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Town of Bluffton leaders and staff are asking residents to help clean up the May River, her shores, nearby streets, and parks of the Bluffton Historic District on Saturday, May 4, 2024, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

“The May River has and is still the centerpiece of Bluffton.” Mayor Larry Toomer said. “As a commercial fisherman, I know intimately what the May brings to Bluffton’s culture, industry, and lifestyle – the May River Cleanup is an opportunity for all of us to take care of her.”

  • Volunteers will meet at Oyster Factory Park, located at the end of Wharf Street.

    • The Town is hoping to complete construction of the pavilion side of the park by early May, but crews may still be present. If the area is not yet available, the event will be held across the street on the Garvin Garvey House side of the park.

  • Boats and kayaks are needed to assist with cleanup efforts (Please arrive at 8:30 a.m. to allow time for setup).

  • Coffee and hot chocolate will be provided by Corner Perk.

  • All supplies, including gloves, bags, vests, and water, will be provided by the Town of Bluffton, American Rivers, Palmetto Pride, Keep Beaufort County Beautiful, and Beaufort County Solid Waste & Recycling.

  • Personal supplies such as sunscreen, bug spray, and water will be provided.

  • Snacks and lunch will be provided by the Town of Bluffton.

Toomer said each year, this event grows in the number of participants and organizational partners.

“It is very rewarding to see students, scout groups, civic organizations, businesses, and nearly a dozen official partners join the Town to make a positive impact on the May River, the streets, and areas which surround her,” Toomer said. “This is truly a collective community effort.”

Education and outreach play an important role in improving water quality in our local watersheds, including the May River Watershed. As volunteers return from cleaning up our community, educational booths provided by Lowcountry Stormwater Partners, The Dolphin Project, Port Royal Sound Foundation, and Bluffton Paddle Club will be available for them to visit. This is an important component because Beaufort County’s large expanses of salt marsh, tidal rivers, and deep channels provide a high level of biodiversity, allowing wildlife, such as oysters, dolphins, and cobia, to flourish. This also means that the ecosystem is sensitive to the environmental pollutants found in the stormwater that drains into rivers and streams, carrying pollutants with it.

Event Partnerships:

The Town is grateful for its partners.

  • The Town of Bluffton is also partnering with M.C. Riley Elementary School to host the Annual School Participation Challenge. This will be the 9th time the school and the Town have partnered for this event. Students and their families will have the opportunity to take part in the Cleanup and waste reduction efforts provided by i2 Recycle. Coastal Kingdom will be partnering to assist the Town with the School Participation Challenge, and MC Riley Elementary participants will be given a reward at the end of the school year.

  • Corner Perk will be donating a cup of their delicious coffee or hot chocolate.

  • Town of Bluffton/Lowcountry Stormwater Partners/Educational Website:

The Town of Bluffton has partnered with all jurisdictions across Beaufort County and Clemson Extension’s Carolina Clear to establish an environmental educational project called Lowcountry Stormwater Partners. This project is now providing stormwater education countywide. Its mission is to educate and motivate residents to protect and maintain our local waterways with environmentally mindful activities and projects. For more information, please visit the Lowcountry Stormwater Partners website, https://www.clemson.edu/extension/carolinaclear/regional-consortiums/lsp/index.html, and its Facebook page (Lowcountry Stormwater Partners).

In the last 20 years, volunteers, community partners and Town staff members have removed over 60,000 pounds of litter, debris, discarded appliances and abandoned boats from the May River and Bluffton Historic District.

In 2015, the Town established a partnership with i2 Recycle, which provides the opportunity to process and recycle suitable materials collected by event volunteers. This has resulted in a portion of the collected waste being diverted from the local landfill.

Waste Management has partnered with the Town again to provide disposal services for all non-recyclable materials.

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