Summer Fun

04 Jul 2024

Choose your own adventure

Quiz: Which water activity should you try out this summer?

By Barry Waldman

Summertime in the Lowcountry makes your hair curl, your skin weep and your tongue parch. It’s the time for heading out to the liquid parts of Charleston to cool off, whether by the pool, at the ocean, inland lakes or among the many rivers, creeks and other estuaries that carve up our neck of the woods. There’s so much variety in spending a day on the water; a relaxing day at the beach has little in common with a wild kayaking adventure in a black swamp or a river cruise with a jazz band. Not sure what you should pick for your next adventure? Take the quiz below and determine which of the many water-related activities abundant in the Lowcountry are right for you this summer.

Which water activity appeals to you the most?

a.) Something active and exploratory

b.) I just want to sip a cocktail with a view

c.) A big group river float

Which type of boat do you like best?

a.) One I can paddle myself!

b.) A slow cruising speed

c.) I feel the need for speed!

What's your favorite occasion to be on the water?

a.) Solitude and reflection

b.) Meeting new people

c.) A big group birthday or celebration with friends

Do you want to actually get in the water?

a.) Definitely 

b.) I'm OK to walk around the shore

c.) I'll stay on the boat and enjoy a beer

How are your swimming skills?

a.) Very comfortable—I’m the Michael Phelps of the Lowcountry

b.) I’ll watch others swim

c.) I’m good with a flotation device or sunning on a raft

Which is your favorite water body?

a.) A river, black creek, or anything undiscovered and uninhabited 

b.) Local beaches or rivers

c.) Whatever will look best for my Instagram page


How do you stack up?

If most of your answers were A, you’re the adventurous sort, the kind who prefers communing with snakes and alligators or testing your athletic ability rather than lounging in a deck chair with just an occasional dip in the cooling water. The good news is, there is so much for you in the Lowcountry.

If you’re this sort of “Type A” personality, check out all the Meetup groups online that cater to on-water adventures. There’s Charleston Paddles, which provides kayak training, guided tours and paddling meetups to explore undeveloped beaches, Tri-country Blueway Kayaking, Mt. Pleasant Water Sports, Mount Pleasant SUP and Cycling, and many, many more in this vein that arrange events and meetups throughout the three counties. You’ll need to secure your own gear, or effect a quick rental, to participate.

Alternatively, you can hire a company to arrange your adventure. Numerous area outfits provide this service – Hydrofly Watersports, Charleston Wake Surf, Nature Adventures in Mt. Pleasant, and more. Among them, you can find the full rainbow of water adventures, from e-foil and wakeboarding to surfing and kiteboarding.

Where should you go? Where shouldn’t you! Whether you’re in a group or alone, paddle out Shem Creek through the harbor alongside bottlenose dolphins to a barrier island with a boneyard beach filled with nesting loggerhead turtles and migrating birds. Row a canoe into the hidden coves of Lake Moultrie or Murray, about an hour north of Charleston. Serpentine through one of the many cypress swamps, black with tannin and pockmarked with boat-scraping cypress knees. Or head out to the ocean and ride the waves to shore.

If most of your answers were B, you may be a beach chair potato, and that’s okay! You like the water fine, but not necessarily to be in it. Thankfully, the area has plenty of activities on the water with million dollar views that don’t require you to get wet. The cool ocean breeze, the dolphins cavorting nearby and the sunset glinting off the waves are food enough for your soul.

The easiest choice is to set up the beach chair and just chill by the ocean—Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island or Kiawah Island—with sand between your toes and a good book.

For more organized non-submersible activities, Charleston Harbor Tours offers a plethora of river cruises perfect for you, from dinner cruises to dolphin watches that ramble down the Cooper River and into the iconic Charleston harbor. Visit historic Fort Sumter on a sunset BBQ cruise or take a sunset blues cruise featuring the musical stylings of Shrimp City Slim. If you prefer a more intimate trip with the wind as your guide, try a river run with Charleston Sailing Adventure or a trip aboard the Schooner Pride, Charleston’s classic 84-foot-tall ship. For an overnight adventure, check with one of dozens of area charter boat outfits, like Sister City Cruises, which offers food and beer cruises, overnight trips to Beaufort, wildlife adventures and romantic sunset rambles.

If all that is a tad sedate for your tastes, how about a day of fishing? There are innumerable ways to spend a day with a rod and reel, either by private boat charter for the VIP treatment or from shore, whether the surf or a pier. The Charleston area has numerous piers, like the Harry Hallman in Mt. Pleasant and the newly renovated Folly Beach Fishing pier, which stretches 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

Beach chair potatoes may not love being in the water, but they like eating its denizens. Consider a day of casual crabbing with Tia Clark, who will teach you to cast a net and catch the freshest seafood possible. Then have Charleston Crab House cook it up for you.

If most of your answers were C, you like speed and party vibes. Water for you is about hanging out with friends and celebrating a birthday, bachelor or bachelorette party, sharing a meal and an adult beverage, and soaking up the rays. Water serves as a conveyance for laughs and good times with the people dear to you. Guess what? Opportunities abound here in the Lowcountry.

In fact, “party” is the middle name of numerous area boat operators: Charleston Party Cat, Saltwater Cycle Party Boats, Stoked Party Boats, Harbor Bar Charleston Party Boats and more. They’re all basically floating kegs that let you taste the sun-kissed harbor and maybe plop down on a nearby uninhabited beach for a spell. Each is a little different, so check them all out for the one that fits your party.

No tour company is needed to capture that need for speed. You can captain your own speed boat with Shem Creek Boat Rentals, or just find a friend with a boat and join them for a day on one of the myriad area waterways. Boat fuel prices are astronomical though, so pitch in on the expenses.

Yacht charters offer cruises and eco tours in style, with catering featuring high-end food, wine and service, and prices that are equally luxurious, ranging up to $700/hr. But that’s no problem, because you’re splitting it with a dozen or so fellow travelers.

The Charleston coast is an island-dotted sea, more fluid than solid, so no matter your proclivities, you can fill a summer with activities designed with your quiz results in mind. Bonus: summer here lasts into October!

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