10 Ways to Get on the Water in the Holy City, Part One
There are so many ways to take advantage of Charleston’s waterways, and the end of August is a good time. From cruising to Bulls Island via ferry to paddling to a remote island via kayak, the adventures are many. We’ve compiled a list so good we’re breaking it up into two posts, so check back next month for the next installment and start planning your next adventure.
Tall Ship Sunset Cruise
Mingle with dolphins, pelicans, and gulls aboard the only three-sail tall ship in Charleston! Schooner Pride sails during the day, daily, but we recommend the sunset cruise to really beat the Holy City heat and take in the view of downtown with a magnificent backdrop of the multi-colored skies. Board at the Aquarium Wharf and float past the Battery, Fort Sumter, the USS Yorktown and Castle Pinckney.
Bulls Island Ferry
Boarding on the Isle of Palms, the Bulls Island Ferry is a naturalist-guided tour through the estuary to Bulls Island, where you have a chance to explore some 16 miles of trails and seven miles of undeveloped shoreline to discover bald eagles, dolphins, alligators, bobcats, otters, and more across the 66,000-acre Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Sound like your cup of tea? Check out coastalexpeditions.com for more info and to book your tickets. PS: Coastal Expeditions was named Best Coastal Detour by Southern Living.
Kayak Charleston SC takes the kayaking tour of the Lowcountry a step further by leading overnight black water and saltwater expeditions. For the black water expedition, for example, kayakers work their way down the Santee River, exploring canals, black water creeks, brackish water marshes, and fresh water islands along the way and camp out on an island or riverbank. Expect to see bald eagles, sallow-tailed kites, hawks, wetland birds, alligators, river otter, deer, wild boar, and more while absorbing the surreal history of waters once paddled by the Santee Indians.
Jam on the Water
There are plenty of great harbor tours out there, but this one‘s a little more rock ‘n’ roll than most. Jam on the Water features local bands taking on the catalogs of legendary acts, like Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. It runs on various Friday evenings throughout the summer and fall, with the final show with 54 Bicycles performing songs by Widespread Panic, happening on Fri. Nov. 17, 2017. Board the Carolina Queen at the City Marina on Lockwood Drive at 6:30, grab a Sweetwater brew, and sail from 7 until 9 p.m.
No matter how you slice it, paddleboarding is one of the coolest ways to explore Charleston’s waterways. There are several places that do tours, and you can rent out paddleboards should you want to be the master of your own destiny. Charleston SUP Safaris lets you rent a board for a few hours or several days if needed, or they’ll lead you on a two-hour marsh tour through remote creeks, marsh fields, and saltwater wilderness behind Folly Beach, where they’ll point out local ecosystems, wildlife, and flora. Charleston SUP Safaris was voted #1 Stand Up Paddle Co. by the Charleston City Paper
Charleston has no shortage of amazing waterways, and there is just as much variety in the ways you can enjoy them. Next week we’ll bring you part two, but in the meantime, get on the water this weekend and cool off!
It was a windy day on the water and perhaps 3 hours was about an hour too much for some of our spaghetti arms but we made it through. There were laughs- fighting against the winds and landing in some reeds and having to be towed out by the tour guide (that was me- he had a little hook attached to his boat he latched onto mine and kayaked me out from under a pier). No one fell out of their boat, that’s the important thing.What a glorious summer in Charleston. I have to say the temperatures have not been stifling and there have been many breezes and days cooled off by rain. I took advantage of this great weather and went kayaking in Mount Pleasant. I opted for the 3 hour tour from Coastal Expeditions . They are located in Mt. Pleasant at Shem Creek, the Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and also Bulls Island’s ferry. They provided the kayak, the tour guide and the life jacket. We were off after a brief introduction to proper kayak procedures.
The tour was fun and educational and going through the water you get a very different perspective on how the land is connected than you do in a car on the road. Going through Shem Creek and under Coleman Blvd. looking up at the boats and restaurants is so very different than dining at Red’s and looking into the creek. Going through Shem Creek was the most adventurous part- we saw three dolphins up close!
The guide was very knowledgable about area wild life and was excited to share information on everything we saw. I learned that pelicans usually die because they lose their eyesight and can’t feed and how dolphins on the SC coast have a unique feeding strategy where they flip a fish onto shore then they flip themselves out of the water for a brief moment to grab the fish – it’s called “strand feeding.”
I can’t wait to get back in a kayak and I am looking into buying my own. This was an adventure I can’t wait to experience again.