Base Survival Guide Series: MCAS Beaufort + MCRD Parris Island

Base Survival Guide Series: MCAS Beaufort + MCRD Parris Island


This Base Survival Guide on MCAS Beaufort and MCRD Parris Island is brought to you by my friends Lacey Lepick, Ann Marie Blodgett, and S (she prefers to stay anonymous). Lacey is a Marine Corps wife whose husband is a prior enlisted F18 airframes mechanic. He went through MECEP and now is a F18 pilot. They have 5 kids and 2 dogs. Ann Marie has been a Marine Corps wife since 2012 and has four precious kiddos. They love to spend their time exploring the area and spending time on the water.



What's the weather like at this base?

Typical Southern weather. It's hot, humid, and wet in the summer with lots of rain. Warm in spring and fall. Nice in winter, dry and sunny and cool. Doesn’t get very cold, the occasional hurricane. You always have an ocean breeze.


What's your favorite time of year there?




What's your favorite thing about living at this duty station? 

The nature, the beauty of the area and the wildlife.

Being by the ocean, living in a small town, lots of friendly people, amazing food, a lot of activites close by such as Hilton Head, Savannah, Charleston, Columbia, Atlanta, Disney World, Asheville, etc!

Loved the lowcountry, very pretty and close to the beach.


What's your least favorite thing about living at this duty station?

The bugs! And it’s an expensive town to live in.


Is there anything you wish you knew about this duty station before your PCS there?

That there are alligators!

Making sure you live in a good school district if you plan on sending your kids to school, and there are quite a few private school options. There's a great school on base, and the county offers “school of choice."

Base housing isn’t great, but Bluffton is pretty far away for the daily commute. We have lived in both places. BAH did go up in the area which makes living off base more affordable than before.


What amenities are on base? And what are they like? For example: Is the commissary large or small? Well stocked? Pool on base? Parks? How many? Etc.

On Parris Island there's a large MCCS pool, small commissary. Huge PX with coffee and food options!

On the air station there's a small exchange and gas station, 3 places to eat, a gym, and theatre (currently being renovated) and a pool (also currently being renovated), and an elementary and middle school. 

No commissary on MCAS but there is one that is good on Parris Island which is about 15 minutes away. There are pools on Laurel Bay which is base housing and Parris Island. (3 total) They are open from May-September with lifeguards. Lots of very fun local parks such as Pigeon Point and Oscar Frazier.


What tips or hacks would you give a  military spouse who just PCSed to that base?

If your a DI family, it’s worth it to live on Parris island.

Request Freedom Sound housing if you want new housing or you can request the older housing and get BAH money back every month.

Get out and see all the fun things the area has to offer.


Do you live on or off base? What is/was your experience like?

On base. It’s been ok maintenance has been tricky but it definitely is nice being close.

Lived in Bluffton for two years in a house we bought, then moved on base for the last year. We liked Bluffton but with my husbands very busy schedule the extra 45 minute drive each way was a lot to add at the end of the day. Base housing was fine, and we got money back from housing each month. But the houses are very old and have lots of mold problems. Hopefully they are fixing those problems. (Specifically Laurel Bay)

Off base - amazing! We love our neighborhood, it’s near the water, there’s a community pool. There are a ton of amazing neighborhood options and lots of rentals available.

For on base housing:

• Freedom Sound

• Wake Island (enlisted, E1-E5)

• Weapons Sound (enlisted, E6-E9)

• Marsh Landing (officer)

For off base housing:

• Oyster Bluff

• Somerset Point

• Spanish Moss

• Battery Point

• Battery Shores

• Picket Fences

• Habersham

• Gleason Farms

• The Retreat

• Royal Pines

• Pigeon Point

• Cat Island

• Pleasant Point

• Seabrook 


What are your favorite hang out spots on base? Why?

The park in the neighborhood.

The base bowling alley was a place we loved. Lots of times kids could bowl free. MCCS had a lot of kid activities like a trunk or treat they did every year.


Did you do a DITY move or military move?


DITY. (We had a local moving company unload the truck for us. It wasn’t too expensive and very helpful after moving across the country)


Are there any base specific traditions that take place? What is the culture like?

A lot on Parris Island, boot camp graduations 42 weeks out of the year so families coming to visit almost weekly. Morning colors ceremony every Friday.

On MCAS Beaufort it's a small base, friendly culture.

Culture is just very busy. It’s a fighter squadron base, so lots of deployments and TDYs for the service members. The base is very involved with the local city, so parades and events happen often.


Are there any base FB pages, bloggers, or accounts/websites people should follow for the base or area?

Parris Island Facebook Page and Instagram Page

MCAS Beaufort Facebook Page and Instagram Page

Eat Stay and Play Beaufort

Marine and Navy Wives of Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC Mommy and Kids

Beaufort Babysitting

Laurel Bay For Sale & Parris Island For Sale Group

Laurel Bay/Beaufort Babysitting

Beaufort & Parris Island PCS Pay It Forward


What is your favorite coffee shop there? Why? What is your favorite order?

Urban Brew + Co., I love getting the dirty chai! It's a locally owned and family friendly Christian coffee shop!


What are your favorite spots for date night?

Downtown on Bay Street. Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC are a close drive away! So many people would go there. Locally there's Hilton Head. We loved Hudson’s and Skull Creek for a seafood dinner.


What are your favorite restaurants? What is your go to order?

Hearth Wood Fired Pizza, Saltus Grill, Fish Camp on 11th, Dockaide, Lost Local, Marker 244, Foolish Frog, Hudson’s, Skull Creek, Salty Dog, Low Country Produce, and Agave.


Are there any fun things to do in the area or close to base like amusements parks etc?

Hunting Island State Park and Downtown Waterfront Park, and Disney World in Florida! Sands Beach is a cute little beach area where you can find lots of sharks teeth! There's also a great pumpkin patch called Holiday Farms!


What are some of the things you would put on a bucket list for other military spouses coming to that base?

There are a lot of places to travel close by and a little further to Florida and Gatlinburg, TN. Just enjoy the local lifestyle!

Take a weekend trip to Savannah and Charleston, lots of history and fun things to see. The Savannah Bananas baseball team is fun…make sure to get those tickets early they're very popular! If you can afford it, rent a boat. You can rent them from the base. There are lots of sandbars to go see. Go to Hunting Island (parts of forest gump were filmed here)


Are there any cities you recommend for weekend getaways? Why? What did you do there?

Hilton Head and Charleston for their southern charm and food!

Savannah has fun ghost tours. During Christmas time they have beautiful lights. If you're up for a longer drive, Jacksonville FL is 3 hours away. There's a great zoo there, NFL team, minor league baseball and hockey. Also, DisneyWorld is a 5 hour trip, and with discounted military tickets it’s a popular destination.


Best places or activities for kids? Why?

• The beach and Hunting Island State Park.

• Library.

• Downtown Parks.

• Lots of nature trails.

• Aquarium in Charleston.

• Lots of fishing.

• Mini Golf.

• Lots of events planned downtown that include kid’s activities.

• Sands Beach.

• Sound Foundation.

• Hilton Head Beaches and Parks.

• Lots of local sports teams.


Any local festivals/traditions held for the holidays in that area?

Lots of festivals here!
• Beaufort Water Festival during the summer and it lasts 2 weeks, and parades year round. 
• There's also a shrimp festival. Follow the local facebook pages for all the information.

Local Recommendations:

Nail Tech

T & Company

Boutique Nails in Bluffton

City Nails in Lady’s Island


Salon Celadon

Bangs Salon 


Check out the Laurel bay fb page, lots of spouses provide these services!



Bangs Salon

Jane McNew at Shades of Red Salon

Shear Vintage

The Parlour in Bluffton



Jane McNew at Shades of Red Salon



Riverside Women's Care


Primary Care Doctor

We see Dr. Schaffer on MCAS Beaufort and love him!



Palmetto Pediatrics



Adventure Pediatric Dentistry in Bluffton

Dr. Yu at Port Royal Dentistry



Beaufort Memorial or for kids, traveling to Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston is best!



Affordable Pet Day Clinic

Lowcountry Vets at May River


Animal Boarding

Camp Green Dog


Dog Parks

Most neighborhoods have them! Pigeon Point has one.



YMCA is great, but there are quite a few to choose from based on your exercise style and preferences. Also lots of local CrossFit places!


Kids Tutor/Babysitter

Look on the local spouses Facebook pages.



I’ve heard The Little Brown School and Savvy Apple.

CDC but the wait times are very long so make sure you apply ASAP.



There are DODEA schools here, we personally have loved the charter schools out in town. DODEA schools are located on Laurel Bay.

Beaufort Acadmey, Riverview Charter School, Coosa Elementary, Sea Island Presbyterian Day School, and Holy Trinity.

Bluffton schools are known to be good, as well as Coosa in Lady’s Island. There are good homeschool co-ops in the area as well. Low country homeschool association is another to look into.



Anna Fisher

Cydnee Wardle she's a Marine Corps spouse too!



LovenLight Photography LLC with Joelle Hill

Kye Image



A&E Desserts


Grocery Stores





Ball Dress Shop

For ball dress shopping you would have to go to Hilton Head Island, Savannah or Charleston. Unless you can find something at Belk!

Not many in the area, Parris Island does host a gown event though.



Oxford Cleaners

Laurel Bay Tailor Shop

Sew Beaufort Alterations



Jeweler's Bench Inc.


Shops + Boutiques

Rooted (the owner is a Marine Corps spouse!)


Overall I would rate this base at a... (1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)

S: 6/10

Ann Marie: 8/10

Lacey: 10/10



Slideshow Beaufort



If you'd like to learn more, have any questions, or want to follow along with Lacey's journey you can find her here on Instagram! You can also always email me at!


You can also get a PDF version of this guide here!

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