Beaufort ( BEW-fərt, a different pronunciation from that used by the city with the same name in North Carolina) is a city in and the county seat of Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city's population was 12,361 in the 2010 census. It is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands and South Carolina Lowcountry. The city is renowned for its scenic location and for maintaining a historic character by preservation of its antebellum architecture. The prominent role of Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Islands during the Reconstruction era after the U.S. Civil War is memorialized by the Reconstruction Era National Monument which was established in 2017. The city is also known for its military establishments, being located in close proximity to Parris Island and a U.S. naval hospital, in addition to being home of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The city has been featured in the New York Times, and named "Best Small Southern Town" by Southern Living, a "Top 25 Small City Arts Destination" by American Style, and a "Top 50 Adventure Town" by National Geographic Adventure.
Written history began 500 years ago with the discovery of the area by Spanish Captain Diego Guilarte de Salazar in 1514. Thus, Beaufort County was the site of the second landing on the North American continent by Europeans, in 1514.