Charleston, SC paddling info


We will be heading to Charleston next summer and would like to know what are the must see paddle areas there. I am thinking about Ft Sumter and then over to FT Moultrie for one. Another thought is Caper’s Island or Edisto Beach. Any suggestions?


We stayed at Edistoe Beach state park
the ACE basin is a interesting place to paddle, and if the contitions are right you can experience the “Washing Machine”

The “ACE” gets it’s name since it is where the Ashpoo, the Combahee, and the Edistoe Rivers all converge into the ocean, and if the tides and winds are in/out of sync you get “the Washing Machine”.

It is not a place for a novice though.

Short trip report: We got caught in the middle in a hellacious thunder storm which added to the mix, and when we finally made it back to the beach, there were a group of people on a porch, under cover, and they shouted to us to come up on the porch. They had been watching us through binoculars and had been debating to call the CG.

My fear was more of the lightning then a capsize in the four foot churning whitecaps.

If you do go there, a good paddle would be across the basin to Rattlesnake Island, and then up the Edistoe for as long as time permits.

I don’t know if it is a fact, but we were told that the Edistoe River is the longest Black Water River in the US.

Sorry, I can’t help you on the Charleston Area



Bull Island from Garris Landing.
Unspoiled ,beautiful woods,trails,and beaches.Mosquitoes can carry you away so go prepared.

I was out there last year and went to Epic HQ and they will let you demo a boat. It was great I got to try out a new ski and was out on the water and it was free.

Get one of these maps.

launch at sunset park on James Island
high tide only - go east to Fort Sumter, tour the fort, go South on the outside of Morris Is to morris light, If you camp on the sandbar watch out for spring tides - we had to get up early or wake up wet.

We really enjoyed Charleston
Greg Barton- 2 olympic gold medals- has an epic kayak store there. Great guy to talk with. Parking and boat launches can be far and few between. Huge #s of towaway zones. I did pay $5 to park at isle of palms marina. The inland waterway is great on a windy day but watch out for big barges.

The grey bus tour of old charleston is a must. They show you where slave auctions were. Baterry park is a must.So is Boone plantation. Chraleston exported the best cotton in the world to finance the War of Independence back in 1776. Patriots point is also great.

The harbor is so packed with fast boats and weird tidal runs that I would not consider it a good place to kayak unless you can do whitewater in a sea kayak.

The Edisto River is not far and
is a beautiful place to paddle.

Sea Kayak Carolina
Sea Kayak Carolina is a great resource. They have a very dynamic “meet-up” group, with several trips a week. Sea Kayak Charleston is the Epic dealer in the area. The Epic Corporate Headquarters are in the area, but no longer open for retail, (you could always call themm and see if they can arrange a demo).

There is a book called “Kayak Charleston – Trips Within 1 Hour of Charleston”, authored by Charleston, South Carolina, resident Ralph Earhart.

There is plenty of great kayaking in the area.

Places to paddle
Berkeley County offers some great paddling opportunities and you can check out the trails at

Most trails are less than an hour from Charleston

Thanks for the ideas keep them coming

Get the has ALL the ideas.

I will be ordering that
and the book next week.

You can camp at
James Island State Park - nice facilities - and it’s a short paddle from there to Ft. Sumter (which I found to be surprisingly small, considering all the hype in the history books! I guess I’m used to Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.)

Talk to local outfitters to get the lowdown on the tides, shipping lanes, etc.

Check these groups
Charleston Sea Kayakes Meetup Group {} and Lowcountry Paddlers ( Chances are both will have organized paddles scheduled at least on the weekends when you are around.

Post on and chances are someone will organize a shown-n-go during the week for you. Same might be true for the Meetup Group.

So many places and diversity of paddles in the area.

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Kayaking in Charleston

– Last Updated: Nov-28-09 11:58 AM EST –

Hello from sunny Charleston, South Carolina! Lots of information for you, and give us a call if you have any questions:

Check out this page for specific information on kayaking to Capers Island / Bull Island: Other local destinations and trips reports are linked to that page... check back often.

Sunrise Park on James Island, about 15 minutes away from downtown Charleston, is a great launch spot. Free parking, and a 75 yard portage brings you to Charleston Harbor. Ride a flood tide towards the Ashley River, and an ebb tide towards Fort Sumter and Cummings Point on Morris Island. The harbor has lots of commercial traffic, and potentially lots of recreational traffic during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Consider a guided trip to get started. Paddlers should have the appropriate experience for any trip, and especially crossing commercial shipping channels. Mid-channel with a 700’ container ship inbound or outbound is no place for experiential education!

The launch beaches at Sunrise Park have been building up, and they are not currently as muddy at low tide as they have been in the past. It has been my recent experience that you can launch at a mean low tide without getting too muddy. There is a 6’ or so tidal range in coastal South Carolina - so plan trips to work with tidal currents, not against them.

Sea Kayak Carolina is a full service kayak shop located on James Island. We offer guided tours, instruction at all levels, and a 3,500 square foot retails shop chock full of kayaks, accessories and kayak clothing. The shop is the Gold Sponsor of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival here on James Island in April - worth the trip. (It is what first brought me from Massachusetts in April 2001!) Please stop in during your visit to Charleston, and we’ll help you with local knowledge as best we can.

Scott Szczepaniak
Sea Kayak Carolina
Shop: (843) 225-7969

Capers Island
is definitely worth a visit. But take along a lot of bug repellent. Mosquitoes are bad, as well as the biting flies. Spent the weekend there just a week ago and bugs were still biting.