In recent years, Americans have become increasingly health conscious and nature oriented. Kayaking is an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful nature of the lowcountry and get a good workout too. No experience is needed - the kayak rental companies will teach you all you need to know. You need reasonable upper body strength and decent coordination - that's all. Life jackets are required to be worn, and everyone should wear old clothes and foot covering that can get wet. There are kayak expeditions for dolphin and bird watching, for viewing the sunset, for full moon enjoyment and even for viewing the fireworks at Shelter Cove. Discount coupons are common in local publications.
Kayaks come in many varieties: one or two passenger, sit on or sit in, with or without a rudder. If you have not been kayaking before (canoeing doesn't count) you should go with a tour. Experienced Kayakers can go off on their own. The tours generally offer instruction and guides who are knowledgeable about the area and its nature.
When planning your kayak trip, decide if you want to see dolphins, birds or perhaps just enjoy time on the water amidst the spartina grass. Dolphins are best spotted in the Calibogue Sound (a few are in the lower reaches of Broad Creek). Birds are seen everywhere, but you are more likely to see some up close in the smaller waterways, such as Jarvis Creek (on the North End near Jenkins Island) or Calibogue Creek (near the mouth of Broad Creek ) or Baynard Cove (near Braddock Cove in South Beach) ,as well as around the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge. The waters in the smaller waterways are smoother than in Broad Creek (some mild boat wakes) or in the Calibogue Sound, which can get quite choppy on windy days. If you are experienced you can try the open waters of the ocean for a tremendous workout.
The tides are something to think about as well. At or near low tide some waterways are inaccessible, and if you depart from land, it might be quite muddy. At or near high tide is generally the best time to go. The tide can also affect the level of difficulty. If you are kayaking upstream when the tide is going out, you could be going against a three mile per hour current or the tide could make it easy if its in your favor. Consider going when the tide is full in, when there is little current. Inexperienced kayakers should not attempt to go to Daufuskie Island because the tidal currents can be very strong and boat wakes and wind driven waves can be brutal. If you choose the Shelter Cove fireworks, you should know in the summer dozens of power boats show up for the event, and you will be returning in the dark in a tiny kayak.
Here are some kayak rental and excursion companies:
Outside Hilton Head
Shelter Cove and South Beach Marina
Cool Breeze Kayaking
Marshland Road Landing & Pickney Island
Water Dog Outfitters
Broad Creek Marina
Palmetto Dunes Outfitters
843- 785- 2449