Charleston is a prime spot for kayaking enthusiasts. Secluded estuaries, striking black water swamps, saltwater, and surf — the Lowcountry has a lot to offer for those itching to get out on the water. And naturally, there are several groups who specialize in showing off the area's aquatic beauty. We've compiled a list of some of the most popular and beautiful trips local outfitters have to offer.
Nature Adventures Outfitters
1 Seafood Drive, Mt. Pleasant,
(800) 673-0679, kayakcharlestonsc.com.
Nature Adventures may be located right in the center of Shem Creek, but they take trips as much as an hour away from their headquarters into the protected swamps near McClellanville. One of their most popular trips, according to Elizabeth Anderegg, is on the Wambaw Creek in the Francis Marion National Forest.
"Generally, the temperature is cooler in the swamp. It's quiet. Song birds and alligators are all around. It's a little different look to at," Anderegg says.
Of course, tours through Shem Creek are also offered. Nature Adventures takes groups out to Crab Bank where sea birds and pelicans nest. Anderegg says it is a good time to see Shem Creek because manatees are around and can be seen while paddling up the water.
514-B Mill St., Mt. Pleasant, (843) 884-7684, coastalexpeditions.com.
One of Weatherly Meadors' favorite trips is to Cape Romain in Awendaw. From Garris Landing, Meadors, a guide with Coastal Expeditions, leads kayakers out to Bull Island, where they spend some time on a beach that is only accessible by boat. The company also offers trips to the black water swamps in Francis Marion National Forest and day trips around Folly. (Coastal Expeditions also has locations in Awendaw and on Folly Beach and Isle of Palms.)
Sea Kayak Carolina
1731 Signal Point Road, James Island, (843) 225-7969, seakayakcarolina.com
Sea Kayak Carolina offers several adventures around Folly Beach. One of their most popular, says William Seabrook, is a daylong voyage from the Folly Beach boat landing out to Morris Island. The five-mile trip goes around to the lighthouse and back behind the island. Shorter trips are also available, including a mile-and-a-half trip to a county-owned beach at the mouth of the Folly River.
Charleston Outdoor Adventures
1871 Bowens Island Road, James Island,(843) 795-0330, charlestonoutdoor-adventures.com
Charleston Outdoor Adventures also paddles around the James Island area. Their most popular tour departs at twilight from Bowens Island. "You won't forget the view," says guide Cooper Smith. After a day of kayaking, he suggests getting a drink and a bite to eat at Bowens Island Restaurant.
Smith also says dolphins tend to be more active around sunset, which is typically the time they feed.
Outdoor Adventures also offers day trips around the shallows and oyster beds, allowing paddlers to get up close with stingrays, small sharks, and birds.
Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission
(843) 762-8089, ccprc.com
Charleston County offers a long list of tours and kayaking lessons through the summer months. For those looking for a great view of the city, Charleston County takes a group from Sunset Park on Folly to Fort Sumter, giving paddlers a chance to gaze at the city from across the harbor. They also take groups to the cypress forests of Lake Marion, dolphin playgrounds in Botany Bay, and Dewees Island and offer kayaking certification and life-saving clinics.