Travel Guide To Charleston Water Sports + Activities
When it comes to summertime adventure, there is nothing quite like hitting the water in Charleston and the surrounding beaches. Mt. Pleasant, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island are all home to some great paddling trips and our Charleston Paddling Guide is a great resource to help get you out on the water having some fun.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding (Isle of Palms): Before surfboards evolved into the tiny daggers they are today, most were hefty planks. Stand-up paddleboarding takes that history a step further, adding enough girth and buoyancy to the board to allow a person to stand upright and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. The sport can be combined with surfing, utilizing the paddle to ride waves that hesitate to break. Paddleboards can go anywhere a kayak can—ride one off the beach, or launch in a tidal creek and go exploring the salt marsh from a higher vantage point.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N through Mt. Pleasant until you reach the Isle of Palms Connector which dead ends at Isle of Palms.
Surf the Washout at Sunrise (Folly Beach): Although it’s hardly consistent year-round, Folly Beach is arguably the best break in S.C., if not the most popular. Surfers come out of the woodwork on big days to ride the popular Washout break, known by that name because of hurricanes’ propensity to cut a new creek through the island at the spot. Show up at dawn and you’ll enjoy what are typically the day’s glassiest and cleanest surf conditions, sans crowds. Try anywhere from 6th to 9th block on the island’s east side.
Directions from Charleston: From downtown, take the James Island Expressway until it dead ends into Folly Rd. Take a right and continue to Folly Beach. Take a left on Ashley Ave. at the stop light and drive until the houses stop on either side of you.
Jet Ski the Intracoastal Waterway (Isle of Palms): North of the IOP, the Intracoastal Waterway is an undeveloped wildlife haven ripe for exploration. Rent a WaveRunner from Tidalwave Watersports and take off toward Capers Island, part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and an excellent open waterway to enjoy some jet-propelled speed.
Directions from Charleston: Hwy 17 N through Mt. Pleasant until you reach the Isle of Palms Connector. Once on IOP, take a left on Palm Blvd. and another quick left onto 21st Ave. Take a right on Waterway Blvd. and continue 1.7 miles to a left at 41st Ave., where Tidal Wave is located at the IOP Marina.
Kitesurf an East Coast Hotspot (Sullivan’s Island): Head to Sullivan’s Island’s Station 28.5 on even a slightly breezy day, and you’ll witness at least a dozen kites pulling riders across the water. The spot boasts some unique geographical erosion —for nearly a quarter of a mile offshore, the depth remains almost consistently three to six feet, before a narrow strip of beach absorbs the brunt of the ocean’s waves. The setting is ideal both for beginners learning the ropes of kiting and experts who enjoy the choice of riding the waves across the spit or practicing their aerials in the slightly protected cove. Check ‘Related Resources’ for rental/lesson options.
Directions from Charleston: Take Hwy 17 N to Mt. Pleasant and bear right onto Coleman Blvd. Continue straight to Sullivan’s Island, before turning left at the stop sign. Take a right at the 28.5 street sign and park immediately.
Go Sailing (Atlantic Ocean): The wind in your hair, that sweet smell of salt water, dolphins frolicking nearby—time to go sailing. From hands-on sailing lessons to chartered voyages, from a few hours in the harbor to cruising the coast, Charleston’s wide range of sailing adventures help make sailing accessible to all. Trust us, sunsets and ocean wildlife take on a whole different meaning from the deck of a sailboat.
Local Watersports Expert: Tidalwave Watersports / 843-886-8456 / www.tidalwavewatersports.com