With its subtropical climate and coastal location, Charleston is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts, nature lovers and seafaring adventurers. Best of all, you don’t need to venture far from the hustle and bustle of the city to experience the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry.
From dolphin watching to kayaking tours, the entire family is sure to enjoy these salty excursions.
Paddleboard at Folly Beach
Stand-up paddle boards (SUP) have become one of the more popular ways to experience Charleston’s waterways. In addition to providing a great workout, SUPs are fun for all ages, and it is sure to create lasting family memories.
If you’re staying on Folly Beach, finding a paddle board rental company will be easy. Rent a paddle board for a few hours and hit the water on your own or take lessons from professionally trained guides.
For a family-friendly paddle board company, check out Charleston SUP Safaris. Voted the best paddle board company in Charleston for three years running, the knowledgeable guides at Charleston SUP Safaris will make sure the entire family has a great experience.
Fish on a Charter Boat
Lowcountry freshwater and incoming saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean combine in the Charleston Harbor, creating some of the best saltwater estuaries in the world. The result is fantastic fishing, crabbing and shrimping opportunities that make Charleston’s seafood so irresistibly fresh.
Why let locals have all the fun? Book a fishing charter boat and experience the thrill of reeling in flounder or redfish as the family cheers you to victory.
If you have little ones, consider booking a special fishing charter that is tailored to young anglers. Otherwise, they might get bored watching you have all the fun.
Kayak Shem Creek
Kayaking is another great way to take in the scenic beauty of the Lowcountry and have a blast out on the water. Although there are many excellent places to kayak around Charleston, historic Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant is the perfect location for first-timers.
One of the most picturesque waterways in the Lowcountry, Shem Creek is teeming with wildlife and natural beauty. Take a kayak tour of Shem Creek in the evening for a stunning sunset, as well as beautiful views of Ravenel bridge, Fort Sumter and downtown Charleston.
Take a Ferry to Bulls Island
Dolphin spotting, beach combing, hiking and shelling — it can all be experienced on a day trip to Bulls Island. If your family enjoys exploring nature and wildlife, this 5,000-acre remote barrier island is a must on your Charleston vacation.
Board a ferry boat and spend the 30-minute ride spotting loggerhead turtles and dolphins along the way. Once you reach Bulls Island, you can explore the island by bike or foot.
The picturesque Boneyard Beach on the north end of the island shouldn’t be missed. The eerie beauty of this skeletonized forest alone is worth the trip to Bulls Island.
Take a Sunset Cruise Around the Harbor
After a long day exploring downtown Charleston, it’s time to put your feet up and relax. Book a private evening boat tour for the family and let the captain do the work as you take in a gorgeous sunset over the Charleston Harbor.
Bring plenty of your favorite snacks and drinks to enjoy as you gaze at the beautiful mansions lining the Battery, along with several other historic sites. Whether you’re traveling with little ones or teenagers, a harbor cruise is a laid-back adventure that is suitable for all ages and interests.
Go Jet Skiing on Isle of Palms
Families who vacation at Isle of Palms will never be short of recreational activities. This slender barrier island is surrounded by pristine beaches, making it a magnet for water sports enthusiasts.
For a memorable vacation that your kids won’t soon forget, rent a jet ski from Tidal Wave Sports. Their WaveRunners can accommodate three riders at a time, making this water activity an affordable and fun adventure for the whole family.
Crave more than just an hour on a WaveRunner? Consider booking a WaveRunner Safari tour to Capers Island. Suitable for almost all ages, the tour to Capers Island provides excellent shelling and wildlife sightseeing opportunities.
Take a Relaxing Boat Tour to Morris Island Lighthouse
If high-speed jet skis aren’t your thing, then a laid-back boat trip to Morris Island might be a better option for your family. Board a Carolina Skiff bay boat and navigate through unspoiled tidal creeks on your way to Morris Island, watching for native wildlife along the way. The knowledgeable captain will point out dolphins, bald eagles, wading birds and other wildlife that can often be seen from the boat.
Once you arrive at Morris Island, you can explore the beach, including spectacular views of the Morris Island Lighthouse. The kids will have fun combing the beach for sand dollars and cool shells, all while learning about Charleston’s local eco systems.
No matter what kind of salty excursion your family seeks, you won’t have trouble finding an aquatic adventure to enjoy in Charleston. With warm weather for most of the year and a diverse coastal landscape, the city and surrounding Lowcountry is a water lover’s paradise.
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