Pinckney Island Paddling

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About

Summary

If you enjoy seeing more wildlife than you previously thought imaginable, you should paddle around Pinckney Island. The National Wildlife Refuge has done exactly what it was meant to do, and fosters more sea birds, flora and fauna than anywhere else in the area.

Written by

Logan Waddell

Distance

5.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

5.3 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Pinckney Island is the smaller land mass you’ll see in between Hilton Head Island and the mainland while crossing the bridge to Hilton Head. Skull Creek borders the island to the south, and Port Royal Sound is the larger body of water bordering Pinckney Island to the north. The Island is home to a wildlife refuge, as well as an array of historical markers, including Shell Mound, and an array of destinations to paddle to.

What Makes It Great

If you enjoy seeing more wildlife than you previously thought imaginable, you should paddle Pinckney Island. The refuge has done exactly what it was meant to do, and fosters more sea birds, flora and fauna than anywhere else in the area. Paddling either side of Pinckney Island, you’re sure to see dolphins, and may even come across a manatee or Bald Eagle, both of which are very rare, but have been known to call the waters around the island home. This is a great route for anyone. Paddling close to the island provides multiple rest stops. A few notable places to stop, get out, and walk around are Shell Point, located on the southwest tip of the island, Bull Point, further to the east down Skull Creek, and Pinckney Neck, the most remote part of the island and furthest away from the entrance.

Who is Going to Love It

Paddlers love exploring the marsh and tidal creeks surrounding Pinckney Island. On a high tide you can cruise over spartina grass and check out the flats and all of the marine life that comes with the tide, and at low tide you can view the entirety of the island in all its glory, though finding a place to beach your kayak may be a little tougher. Completely circumnavigating the island is a feat; it is highly suggested to hire an experienced local guide if you are interested. If you plan on doing this rather than checking out one side of the island, make sure you’re well prepared for the trip with food, water, safety equipment, and some type of communication. It’s best to explore the waters around Pinckney island with a group, or at least with someone familiar with the Skull Creek, Mackay Creek and Port Royal Sound. If you get stuck out there, no one is going to see you for quite a while. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Launching into Calibogue Sound is as easy as pulling into the boat ramp parking lot halfway across the bridge to Hilton Head, unloading your boat, and dropping in. There are no fees, but if you’re not equipped with a PFD, you’ll more than likely receive a ticket. The boat ramp only offers access to Calibogue Sound, so if you want to paddle Skull Creek, go left and around the island, under the bridge to start on that route.

Location

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

32.249543, -80.760239

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