Explore Charleston by Boat, Bike or Kayak

By:Marie McAden


Sunset at Shem Creek in Charleston Harbor
Nature Adventures Kayak and Canoe Outfitters offers guided tours to Charleston Harbor through Shem Creek, home to the local shipping fleet.

Looking for a little getaway from your golf-watching vacation on Kiawah? Historic Charleston is just a pleasant 45-minute drive from the PGA Championship venue.

You can take a carriage ride, hop aboard a bus or follow a guide on a walking tour of the seaport town, named the Readers’ Choice Top U.S. City by Condé Nast Traveler. Or you can think outside the box and experience Charleston from a different perspective.

Here are a few suggestions:

A classic sailboat

Flying across the channel in a 50-foot sloop, the wind filling your sails, you can feel the energy of Charleston’s bustling harbor — the life force that has driven the city since English colonists settled here in 1670.

Charleston Sailing Charters offers a wide range of sailing options, including two-hour harbor trips that will take you cruising by the historic Battery and Fort Sumter, the birthplace of the Civil War. Or splurge on a sunset sail with an overnight stay on the yacht at the dock. For details click here or call (843) 577-7403.

Biking the Historic District

Pedaling at a leisurely five miles an hour, you can cover Charleston’s entire peninsula in about an hour by bike. But take your time and poke around the cobblestone alleys South of Broad. Peek through wrought iron gates at the beautiful sculpted gardens. Admire the antebellum architecture of the grand old homes.

And then when you’re all warmed up, head to the Ravenel Bridge, the longest cable stay span in North America. Opened in the summer of 2005, the 2.7-mile bridge over the Cooper River has become one of Charleston’s must-see attractions.

The view from the top is fantastic — and it gives you a great excuse to stop and catch your breath after ascending the three-tenth of a mile long section featuring a 5.6 percent slope.

You can rent a bike for $20 a day at Affordabike. Click here or call (843) 789-3281.

Kayaking Shem Creek

Home to the local shrimping fleet, the historic 2.5-mile Shem Creek offers easy access to Charleston Harbor and a 22-acre island that serves as a sanctuary for a number of shorebirds, including black skimmers, American oystercatchers, willets, ibis, tricolored herons and the state threatened species, Wilson’s plover.

Nature Adventures Kayak and Canoe Outfitters offers guided trips through Shem Creek and around Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary. During the nesting season, which runs from March 15 through Oct. 15, there are literally thousands of birds on the island. You’ll also enjoy a stunning panorama of Charleston’s downtown skyline, Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, Fort Sumter, the Sullivan Island lighthouse and Patriots Point.

Tours are $39 for a 2-2 ½-hour excursion ($29 for kids ages 12 and younger), $55 for 3-3 ½ hours ($39 for kids) and $85 for a full day of paddling ($48 for kids).

Walk-ups are welcome, but if you’d like to book a trip in advance, call (843) 568-3222 or click here.

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