Best Places to Kayak in the Lowcountry

Here are six kayaking hot spots all locals should experience.

One of the most popular outdoor activities for locals is kayaking the tranquil and majestic waters surrounding Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. There is no better way to soak in the untouched beauty of the Lowcountry while getting up close with the dolphins, ospreys, pelicans and other wildlife. To help identify the area’s must-paddle locations, we reached out to Mike Overton, CEO of Outside Brands, who simply stated, “Somebody could paddle for 100 days in the Lowcountry and not have to paddle the same waters twice.” Here are six kayaking hot spots all locals should experience.

[1] MAY RIVER Drop in at Alljoy Boat Landing in Bluffton and hang a right. Paddle past Potato Island and Myrtle Island toward downtown Bluffton. Tie up at the dock near the Church of the Cross and explore Old Town. If you get back in the boat at low tide, paddle from the dock to the May River Sandbar (aka Redneck Riviera). The strip of sand is an awesome spot to picnic before the tide returns. Bluffton Oyster Company is another great launch spot. Outside Palmetto Bluff offers a May River history paddle launching from Wilson Landing.

Launch from H.E. Trask Sr. Boat Landing at the end of Sawmill Creek Road in Bluffton and hang a left. At high tide, hang another left into the Sawmill Creek inlet or keep paddling past Spring Island toward Crane Island. You will suddenly find yourself surrounded by lush green sea grass as osprey soar overhead and dolphins folic in the water around your boat.

Drop in at Buckingham Landing near the Bluffton flyover. Cross Mackay Creek and turn left to go under the bridge and explore the many wonderful areas of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. The less ambitious can launch at C.C. Haig Jr. Boat Landing, the boat ramp you see from the bridge. Surrounded by salt marsh, all kinds of interesting wildlife can be seen near the shore, including the occasional otter or mink. Outside Hilton Head offers a birding and beachcombing paddle here.

There are plenty of entry points for this popular waterway but the best is next to the Old Oyster Factory. Calm water and light boat traffic make it a great spot for beginners. For an incredible experience, check out the Harbourfest fireworks that launch each Tuesday night from mid-June to mid-August off a barge near Shelter Cove Harbour. This creek is also an excellent place to paddle at night when there’s a full moon lighting up the water. Outside Hilton Head offers both a fireworks paddle as well as a full-moon paddle.

Explore the backside of Daufuskie Island with this tranquil 4 1/2-hour tour, only available through Outside Hilton Head. It’s called the Outback Tour and starts with a boat ride to Page Island, an island privately owned by Outside Brands. The calm water creek is easy to navigate, offering incredible views with no man-made items in sight. The tour ends with lunch and a boat ride back to Hilton Head Island.

Launch from the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center in Okatie and explore the waters around nearby Lemon Island. Most of the 500-plus-acre island is under conservation easement, with only four luxury homes standing on the land nestled between the Chechessee and Broad rivers. The area was once home to Strawberry Hill Plantation on Hazzard Creek.

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