South East Coastal Kayaking Help

My wife and I are looking for a good place to take a Kayaking vacation in late May some where in the south where it’s warm. It’s been a long winter in Massachusetts and we’d like to find a nice place to go that would have plenty to do and see on land, but would also offer some great kayaking. We’ve been to FL and the Keys one to many times, so we were thinking about the Outer Banks, NC or Charleston SC, but we know nothing of the South for Kayaking other than FL.

Any thoughts, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Our experience level is intermediate and most of our Kayaking has been done along the coast of CT, RI, and MA in our own 14.5’ kayaks.


Kayaking Florida
Sorry I don’t have any info on Kayaking down south, I’m up here in Washington. Don’t mean to go off on a tangent but read your Florida comments and peaked my interest. I am also thinking of traveling south to Florida and kayaking the Everglades, Gulf side, and the Keys but not familiar with the area. I have been researching on line and found it to be something I might like. Would love to hear about your travels down there and recommendations if you have any. Thank you kindly.

We just came out from fourteen days
in the Everglades, and three months in the Keys.

Check out our Google web site and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you have on both places plus the Springs areas.

We have been exploring these areas for many years

It is:

Jack L


After reading your post, and following your link, it would seem that I have not kayaked in the keys after all! :wink: Your web page is an amazing wealth of information for anyone looking to kayak in the Keys. Nice job!

I live about 3 hours from Charleston
I kayak and camp at the coast a good bit.It is late soI will post more info and email some photos tomorrow. We have some of the most undeveloped coast on the US east Atlantic.

Try Savannah and Tybee Island
Lots of day trips ranging from protected marsh to open ocean, as well as overnighters in the area … but tides can be tricky so its best to consult with a local outfitter.

The OBX can be fantastic
I am not sure what exactly you are looking for but there are quaint little fishing villages, modern hotels or primitive camping areas available that are kayak friendly. The sounds (Pamlico and and Albermarle) offer some big water crossings with some protection from the open ocean. Have you looked at this?

Beaufort SC
and surrounds is my suggestion. 90 minute drive to either Charleston or Savannah if you crave bigger cities vs the calm charm of BFT. Lots of paddling choices from tidal marshes to open surf. Plenty to do land based as well. Be aware of 6 foot diurnal tides. Not much choice for kayak rentals in Beaufort though if you leave yours at home.

Great paddling in Charleston. Vibrant community with a pretty large number of paddlers.

Good yak surfing in Folly Beach and off some of the sandbars.

Lots of marsh channels to explore and Charleston harbor is always interesting.

Also some black water creeks and rice fields available.

You’d probably like the town of Charleston as well. Lot’s to do in a very old city with a rich history.

I’d recommend the following sites to review:

More on Charleston area
Charleston and the surrounding area has lots to offer in sights, history, restaurants, gardens etc. If you want to camp instead of staying in hotels or B&Bs there is the James Island County Park which is close to Charleston and has tent and trailer sites and several cabins that can be rented. There is also Sea Kayak Carolina close by on James Island that rents kayaks etc. Folly Beach is just down the road and you can surf or paddle the marsh there and at the north end of Folly across the inlet is the abandoned Morris Island lighthouse stand offshore in the Ocean. There are landings to put in at the bridge over to Folly and another on the Stono River. The people at SKC can give you directions. Also there is the Sea Kayak Charleston meetup group that have regular group paddles that you can check into. You can also paddle the harbor out to Ft. Sumter from Demeter Park on James Island.

Up the coast from Charleston is the longest stretch of undeveloped east coast Atlantic shore line. This is a favorite area for me to paddle. May will find sea turtles present as it is when they breed. You can paddle out to Capers Island and camp on the beach. You have to have a free permit to camp. Most folks put in at the Isle of Palms Marina for this trip. I often camp at Buck Hall if I want to do day paddles. It is up Hwy 17N from Charleston. You can launch from Garris landing and Paddle to Bulls Island or to Price Inlet between Capers and Bulls Island. These are about 12 mile round trips. Both Islands have what are locally called Bone Yards. This is were the Ocean is eroding the island back into the maritime forest and the dead trees are standing and fallen on the beach. At times there can be some good shell collecting on these islands as not so many people get there. For a long day paddle of about 20 miles you can paddle out of McClellanville to Lighthouse Island and Cape Romain Island. In Romain Harbor I saw a number of sea turtles last May. I have also seen some big gators at the mouth of Alligator Creek were it comes into Romain Bay. You can also put in at Buck hall and paddle out into Bulls Bay.

Inland there are also a number of blackwater rivers and swamps close by that make for some interesting paddling.

As someone mentioned the tides range from about 4-7 feet depending on the moon and sun 's positions. There are extensive mud flats and oyster bars that can strand you at low tide so charts are very helpful. Also be aware that no-see-ems and mosquitoes can be a major nuisance so repellent and fine mesh head nets are good to have with you at all times. I paddled out to Bull Island this last Friday. When I launched there were no bugs, but when I loaded the boat to leave Garris landing the no-see-ems were out in force. If there is a wind then the bugs are not much of a problem, but after dark camping on the barrier Islands they can be bad. Also the numerous marsh creeks can be confusing. Email me if you are interested in the area and I can email some photos of the kayaking in the area, and proved so added info.

Great information. Thinking about heading down there end of Dec. This will be so much fun to research. Thank you for sharing.

Good info.

Is there a best time of year to Yak SC? Less crowds, less bugs, good weather, etc.?

I like the cooler weather months myself
Though I have paddled about every month but August at the coast. Bugs are wind and temperature dependent. I have been camping on Capers Island in Feb with the mosquitoes out. Usually the wind will keep them off the beach. While on the water the bugs are rarely a problem. Also you have fewer thunder storms in colder weather. The winter ocean can be in the 40s as can the marshes so immersion gear is wise.

It might make a good halfway stop on a trip to or back from FL for a few days. I really enjoy the paddling in FL. I grew up there. Febuarary a year ago the bugs were not bad at all when we camped in the Everglades.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Carolina coast when I started paddling here. I think it is because I can paddle to isolated beaches where I am often the only person in sight.

Second Tybee Island

– Last Updated: Mar-17-14 2:07 PM EST –

You have a range of paddling from winding channels in the marshes (warning: easy to get lost there) to surf. Quiet backwaters to shipping channel. More often than not, a dolphin or several would come nearby while I was padding there.

Heed the advice about tidal flows and levels. As Topher noted, Sea Kayak Georgia is the place to go for sea kayak "stuff" and resources. They are right along the main drag going into town.

Should be good and hot down there in May! Water will be warm.

Paddling In SC
Try out the Berkeley County Blueways

Great Responses

– Last Updated: Mar-17-14 4:45 PM EST –

Wow! Outstanding responses and links! Thank you all so very much!
If anyone has some kayaking pictures of OBX, Charleston, or Savannah I would be extremely grateful.

Actually I already am extremely grateful so....... ya, I'd be even more grateful! :-)

Great info. I was thinking along those lines; spend some time in Florida, travel up the coast through SC and stop and visit my brother in Tenn. I have a friend living in Charleston I haven’t seen since HS graduation (1974 Yikes!!!)I was thinking of seeing. She told me to stop by if I ever head east. We’ll see. Water temp in Puget Sound is basically a constant 46-52 deg year round. Could go for some warm water. Thanks for the insight.

OT question for you

Have you ever launched from Mike’s Beach Resort, a little north of the Hamma Hamma River mouth? If so, do you have any recommendations or warnings about paddling from there?

link to OBX images

The wild horses are on a few of the uninhabited islands. One thing to note after reading some of the warnings about other places - because the sounds and river mouths are so large, the tidal fluctuations are small to non existent in our marshes. There are exceptions, but for the most part it is far less of a concern.

Here is another link I should have posted earlier:

Another OBX resource

Great folks. You’ll notice that keeping the web site up to date isn’t their top priority. This is the south end of OBX.