Coastal Carolina's maritime forests, tidal marshes and pristine rivers offer visitors plenty of opportunity to view local wildlife. But if deer and dolphin are too tame for your taste, take a walk on the wild side.
But not to worry. You can leave your pith helmet and machete at home. These adventure outings are safe enough for even pint-sized explorers.
Here are five wild wildlife excursions:
- Alligator Tour: H2O Sports on Hilton Head Island offers a guided alligator and wildlife tour through prime gator haunts: the freshwater lakes of the Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve. You'll ride in the comfort - and safety - of a covered 12-passenger electric boat to the nesting grounds of the belly-dragging reptiles. Cost is $29 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and younger. For more information, contact H2O Sports.
- Edisto Island Serpentarium: Anacondas, rattlers, boas and pythons are but a few of the many species of venomous and non-venomous snakes you'll find slithering over rocks and hanging from trees in the serpentarium's outdoor observatories. This wildlife attraction also features alligators, caimans and snapping turtles, along with more snakes on display in the indoor climate-controlled exhibit gallery. Cost is $14.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids 4 to 12. For more information, contact the Edisto Serpentarium.
- The Center for Birds of Prey: Watch hawks, falcons, owls, eagles, kites and vultures in free flight as they soar, glide and dive above the avian conservation center's flying fields. Demonstrations are held Thursdays through Saturdays. The Awendaw facility also features aviaries housing more than 40 species of raptors and a special section dedicated to owls. Cost is $15 for adults and $10 for youth 6 to 16. For details, contact The Center for Birds of Prey.
- Vagabond Tours Dolphin Sunset or Ocean Dolphin Cruise: Vagabond Cruise Line out of Harbor Town features all sorts of cruises, including an Ocean Dolphin Cruise and a Sunset Dolphin Cruise. The ocean cruise travels through Calibogue Sound to the headwaters of the ocean, spotting Atlantic bottlenose dolphin along the way. The sunset cruise, narrated by the naturalist captain, tours the estuaries behind Bull Island at a perfect time of day. (Don't forget the camera to capture these sunsets.)
- Alligator Adventure: Don't be fooled by the name. This Myrtle Beach attraction features snakes, emus, wolves, kangaroos, monkeys, warthogs, lemurs, reptiles and Utan, a 2,000-pound, 18-foot crocodile touted as the largest on exhibit in the US. Live shows include alligator feedings and snake handling. Cost is $21.99 for adults and $16.99 for kids 4 to 12. For more information, contact Alligator Adventure.