Kayaking Folly Beach, SC????

-- Last Updated: Mar-19-13 8:29 PM EST --

I have heard this is a good place to paddle. Thinking of making a trip there next month, but it is a long drive. Does it offer some good kayak surfing and pretty reliable surf?

Any recommendations on camping nearby?

And is it better at high or low tide?


Folly kayaking
I have kayaked Folly many times. If you want to surf, you go the to washout (Northern end of the island). The river and marshes offer wonderful exploration, but are better at high tide. At low tide, the silt (called Pluff mud) narrows the channels considerably and smells terrible. My favorite part of kayaking at Folly is the dolphins play alongside you.

Camping is at James Island County Park. (15 minutes away). James Island Park is the site of the East Coast Kayak Festival.


There are many condo and house rentals on the island. Lastly, there are at least two kayak rental services on the island if you are not taking your own. One is next to the post office. The other on Bowen’s Island (basically at Folly). If you need more details, I can reach out to my family that live down there.

Morris Island
Not that familiar with Folly but we were in the area last year and locals told us that Morris Island (few miles up the coast) was the place to be and it didn’t fail to please. Bonus is that it’s a short paddle from Fort Sumter where paddlers can land and tour free of charge.

there is a contingent of butt surfers
that hang out there … used to post on boatertalk/surfzone, but alas that board seems to be dead.

Try this for a contact …

A couple of trips
Hi Matt,

Traffic to/thru Folly Beach can be a pain at times

South end of Folly is a pay to park County Park. Higher tide has served me better there. Short paddle to the mouth of the Stono River which may provide some extra amplitude to the surf if insufficient off the beach.

North end Folly is first come parking and a bit of a carry to put in by Lighthouse Inlet. Ebbing tide provides some more kick aways out from the Morris Island Lighthouse - defunct.

Sunset Park is a very pretty neighborhood park to put in at and paddle out of Charleston Harbor past Fort Sumter. Low tide, the Fort is only passable in the channel. Sand bar is exposed. Watch for traffic in/out of Schooner Cove - party anchorage. Again Atlantic side of Morris Island there’ll be some waves to play with.

You can always see if Scott at Sea Kayak Carolina wants to play hooky and go paddle.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



You might want to
Connect with the Charlston sea kayak meetup group. They are very active and it is a good way to paddle with some of the locals.

I live a few miles from Folly. Just wanted to help clear up a few points.

You can camp at James Island County Park. There is primitive camping but also RV has showers. Just like Maryland the barrier islands have rivers on each end. As SeaDart pointed out, the Wash Out is for the butt hole surfers. The surf is just as good anywhere else on the island and there are many parking lots with a beach walk over. Just look for them. The county park washed out but there is public parking access a few hundred yards up form that, you just have to look for them. Then park on the street once you are unloaded or pay the $5 fee. The south side has a larger inlet and the conditions vary depending on wind. The north side has Light House Inlet, and Morris Island. As others said, check with the Meetup Group. Don’t worry too much about low or high tide. Most people plan the tides for each trip. There is also public parking at the north end right at the gate, so just put in on the ocean side and not haul them down the lighthouse access.

This is a video when we were messing around and put in at the parking access on the north end. Feel free to email me. I’ve paddled wiht Marshall and his wife at the ECCKF… and friends take showers and wash up at my place when they are camping on the island…


Does anyone have any more input on whether Folly is better at high or low tide?

I am planning a trip there and the preferred weekend is one where the middle of the day is low tide which sounds like it may not be the optimal tide for surfing.

thinking about moving the trip to the following weekend to coincide with high tide…



Pluff mud does not stink if you grew up
with it as I did. It smells like home.It smells like the abundant life it supports.