“Monkey Island”, officially named Morgan Island, is a tiny Lowcountry island inhabited by nearly 4000 monkeys! It’s one of only two Rhesus Monkey colonies in the U.S. Though it can be difficult to find on a map, it’s located north of St Helena Island where the Coosaw and Morgan Rivers meet.
How did the monkeys get there?
In the late ‘70s, the original monkey colony of 1400 was moved to Morgan Island from a research facility in Puerto Rico. While the SC Department of Natural Resources owns the island, the monkeys are property of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and therefore protected by federal law.
Can you go there?
Well, you can’t get on the island but you can get near it. This is truly a wild monkey island, not a monkey habitat within the safe confines of a zoo. If concerns for your own safety don’t keep you from setting foot on Morgan’s Island, federal laws will. However, you can see the monkeys safely from the water. By kayak or small boat, the closest place to launch is the Eddings Point Boat Ramp on St. Helena Island. Tour companies that will take you near the island are listed below. Remember, the best time to catch the monkeys out in the open is during the morning when they are hanging out on the beach and exterior parts of the island. Like us, they’ll go searching for cover during the heat of the day. This usually leads them to the interior, more heavily shaded parts of the island. And whether you get to see the monkeys or not, you will still have enjoyed a day on the water in one of the most beautiful parts of the Lowcountry!
Monkey Island Boat Tours
Edisto Saltwater Tours – Edisto Beach, SC
Botany Bay Ecotours – Edisto Island, SC
Sea Wolf Charter – Port Royal, SC