Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
The city of Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands and South Carolina Lowcountry. Additionally, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston and is known for antebellum architecture and beautiful, scenic locations.
The mission of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is to support establishment operations for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, attached MEF units, and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island/Eastern Recruiting Region. Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, also known as “Fightertown East,” is three miles northwest of downtown Beaufort. It is home to five Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack squadrons and one F-35B Fleet Replacement Squadron. Three versions of the F/A-18 Hornet are found aboard MCAS Beaufort, the F/A-18A and C Hornet and the F/A-18D Hornet assigned to Marine Aircraft Group-31. The F-35B squadron is the only location in the world where pilots train to fly the F-35B. This squadron also trains the United Kingdom’s F-35B pilots and maintainers.
Off Base Neighborhoods
There are a variety of housing choices including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes for those who prefer to live off-base. New construction is available as well as homes full of local, historic charm. Some favored local neighborhoods include Liberty Point, Somerset Point on Lady’s Island and Cottage Farm.
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On Base Housing
Privatized, on-base housing at MCAS Beaufort is provided by Atlantic Marine Corps Communities at Tri-Command (AMCC). Housing is available for active-duty service members and their families, DoD civilians, and military retirees assigned to MCAS Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and the Beaufort Naval Hospital.
The Laurel Bay gated community offers a wide variety of amenities for all ages to enjoy to include: tennis courts, fitness center, Child Development Centers, pools, and playgrounds. Located 3 miles from Beaufort base, Laurel Bay offers two, three and four bedroom single family and duplex style homes available for all ranks. A brand new community center with a pool and 24-hour fitness center is a favorite among tenants.
Freedom Sound is also 3 miles from Beaufort base. This neighborhood features 170 brand new duplex style homes.
Military housing at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort is located between Port Royal and downtown Beaufort. The homes at Hospital Point are renovated with screened-in porches and waterfront views.
The Laurel Bay housing area has three elementary schools, run by DoDEA. Two serve military children in Pre-K-2nd grade, while the third is for 3rd through 8th grade students. These schools are open to children of service members of all ranks living in military housing. Families living off base will primarily send their children to Beaufort County public schools, although there are also private schools and other county school districts in the surrounding area.
Cost of Living and BAH
The cost of living along coastal South Carolina is pretty reasonable with most military families able to use their BAH to cover expenses. MCAS Beaufort BAH ranges from $1,275 to $2,250 for enlisted. BAH at Beaufort begins at $1,467 for O1 without dependents and goes up to $2,589 for O7 with dependents.
Median home prices in Beaufort is $210,400. Home values have gone up 7.9% over the past year. Real estate experts predict home values will continue to rise another 1.4% this year.
Summers are hot and oppressive running from May through September. Winters are relatively short, cold, and windy. Hurricanes are the most significant weather threat in coastal South Carolina. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. It is essential to familiarize yourself and your family about what to do if a storm is threatening. The MCAS Beaufort & MCRD Parris Island Hurricane Hotline is 800-343-0639.
STORM CHECKLIST: A minimum of 1 gallon of water per person, per day for 3-7 days, 3-7 days of non-perishable food including food for infants and pet food, First aid kit and any prescribed medication, Flashlight, Batteries, Battery operated radio, Cash, Cell phone with solar charger, Important documents such as insurance, medical, and bank records stored in a waterproof container/bag, Basic essentials such as: A non-electric can opener, paper plates, and plastic utensils, blankets and pillows, toiletries and hygiene items, clothing, toys, books, and games for children.
MCAS Beaufort has amenities for all interests and ages to include shopping, a Marine Corps Exchange, walking trails, playgrounds, swimming pools, fitness center, Lasseter Theater, and Naval Hospital. Waterfront views can be had from the Officer’s Club and the Log Cabin. The Log Cabin is the perfect combination of country style and natural grace. This venue is great for intimate events including family reunions, unit functions, and rehearsal dinners. Afterburners is a state-of-the-art recreation facility under management of the Single Marine and Sailor Program. It features 30 TVs, a 12-seat movie theater, pool tables, and free Wi-Fi. Outdoors there is a pool, ping-pong table, horseshoe pits, cornhole, basketball court, volleyball court, and outdoor Tiki bar. Outdoor Adventures also provides high-quality outdoor recreation activities such as fishing trips, hunting trips, whitewater rafting, as well as Ziplining.
The Beaufort area was a staging area for both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. Civil War era antebellum homes and elegant plantation homes still line Bay Street overlooking the Beaufort River. Those who love history will enjoy their time here. The Beaufort Arsenal, home of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, was constructed in 1798. After the Civil War, the Arsenal became a place for hosting social events as well as military ceremonies. Horse-drawn carriage rides offer another opportunity to learn about the history of Beaufort.
One of the most recognizable and most beloved landmarks in the Beaufort area is the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse. Additionally, it is the only lighthouse in the state where you can climb all the way to the top.
Several big-name movies were filmed in and around Beaufort. Those films include The Prince of Tides, The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, and The Great Santini. A Hollywood Movie Site guide is available at the Beaufort Visitor’s Center.
The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park offers shopping, art galleries, and lots of dining options. This park is also the site for many of Beaufort’s annual festivals and events. Some of the larger events include, the Beaufort Shrimp Festival, A Taste of Beaufort, and the Beaufort Water Festival.
The Port Royal Cypress Wetlands is a bird watcher’s paradise. Snowy white egrets, herons, hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, geese, and ducks all call these wetlands home. Kayaking and paddle boarding are also popular outdoor activities.
The city of Charleston is 65 miles away, taking a little over an hour by car. Hilton Head Island is a 33-mile drive and takes about 45 minutes.
Food and Drink
In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, shrimp and grits is a favored southern dish and can be found at pretty much any one of Beaufort’s local restaurants. Lowcountry Produce offers a southern breakfast and lunch menu and has a great selection of handmade jams, pickled goodies, fresh produce, and even local art. The Chocolate Tree, a local store, does an all-you-can-eat night once a year in the summer. Locals say it’s an event not to be missed!
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