Backwater Paddling in Charleston

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It’s about that time of year in the low country where we can look forward to some consistently warm weather, and not have your hopes crushed by yet another cold snap. If you haven't taken advantage of the creeks, inlets, marshes, or ocean outlining the Holy City, this spring is your chance to do so. Here are five of RootsRated’s favorite places to do some exploring via paddleboard and kayak.

1. Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan's Island, Courtesy of Logan Waddell
Sullivan's Island, Courtesy of Logan Waddell

Sullivan’s Island has kept its awesome reputation as a sleepy beach town even through it’s been heralded as one of South Carolina’s best beaches for years. This is a paddler’s best-case scenario. The summer tends to bring crowds of tourists to the beach on Sullivan’s, but the island’s best-kept secret is the marsh behind it. Drop in behind the town park on Middle Street, and paddle over the flood tide into the Spartina Grass. If you want a quiet trip without worrying about taking out any beachgoers, then Sullivan’s Island is your destination.

2. Shem Creek

Shem Creek, Courtesy of Logan Waddell
Shem Creek, Courtesy of Logan Waddell

Shem Creek is the best way to paddle the ocean and tidal creek at the same time. For a full day of paddling, rent your gear from Charleston Paddler and put in at the marina right across the street. Go left towards the ocean, go right for an inshore trip, or do both. There’s so much to explore.

3. Sol Legare to Sandy Point (Kiawah)

Sol Legare, Courtesy of Logan Waddell
Sol Legare, Courtesy of Logan Waddell

This is a great day trip to share with friends. Sol Legare is a landing located on James Island on the banks of the Stono River. If you paddle towards the ocean for about 3 miles, you will hit Sandy Point. It’s a peaceful place to relax on the beach. Words of advice: Plan your trip around the tides. Go to Sandy Point when the tide is going out, and make the return trip on an incoming tide. You’ll be paddling in place if you do the opposite.

4. Folly Beach

Folly Beach, Courtesy of Logan Waddell
Folly Beach, Courtesy of Logan Waddell

Much like Sullivan’s Island, Folly is home to some great marsh, as well as open ocean to paddle or surf. If you enjoy fishing, bring your rod along with your kayak or paddleboard. On a good flood tide, you’ll be able to sight cast at some tailing Redfish. There are also a multitude of small islands to explore behind Folly. Bring some food and plenty of water, and you’ll be set for a day full of paddling.

5. Intracoastal Waterway

Intracoastal waterway, Courtesy of Logan Waddell
Intracoastal waterway, Courtesy of Logan Waddell

The Intracoastal Waterway provides a great path behind Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to paddle. It also serves as a great marker to help you get out of the marsh. I would recommend dropping in by the Upper Deck Bar & Grill at the far end of Isle of Palms, and paddling downstream towards Sullivan’s Island. Watch out for huge boats on the IW, there are plenty, seeing as the waterway was made for them.

 

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