With its abundance of historical sites and charming neighborhoods, few would argue that Charleston is a superb walking city, but this beautiful city wasn’t voted America’s Top City by Travel+Leisure for these two attributes alone. Charleston has many beautiful waterways that you can explore to experience the Holy City in an entirely new way. Hoist those sails and prepare to see this coastal jewel like you’ve never seen it before. Seeing Charleston from the water is simply a must.
Catch a Cruise to Fort Sumter
Seeing the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired is a must for first-time visitors to Charleston. The only way to visit Fort Sumter is by boat, and the only authorized concessionaire is Fort Sumter Tours.
You may not have many choices when it comes to tour boats, but this tour provides an excellent 30-minute narrated boat ride to and from the fort. Just sit back, relax, and take in the scenic views as you learn more about one of America’s greatest wars and Charleston’s fascinating history.
Discover Charleston’s Rich History by Boat
Another excellent tour for newcomers is a boat tour of Charleston’s beautiful harbor. This will give you the opportunity to see iconic sites from the harbor such as Rainbow Row, The Battery Sea Wall, Aircraft Carrier Yorktown, and more. Take a Gray Line tour for a 90-minute narrated boat tour where you will hear about Charleston’s rich history from knowledgeable tour guides.
Take an Eco Tour
The Isle of Palms is a prime place for a family beach vacation. It’s also home to many unique ecosystems as well, which makes it the perfect place to take the family on an exciting tour to experience the Lowcountry’s wildlife.
Take a boat tour around the unspoiled islands and stunning salt marshes that surround the Isle of Palms. With a Barrier Island Eco Tour, you can spend time with dolphins, fish in the salt marsh, cast a crab net, and even end the tour with a Lowcountry BBQ on the beach.
Kayak/Paddleboard Shem Creek
It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first time on a kayak or if you consider yourself a professional. Charleston’s saltwater wilderness can be explored by all.
Paddle through Shem Creek, and you will discover a side of Charleston that you didn’t know existed. There is plenty of fascinating wildlife frequently spotted in the Mount Pleasant area, and the fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor are worth the trip alone.
Swim at Folly Beach
With its six miles of beach, Folly Beach attracts tourists and locals alike for its watersports and beach activities. Stay in a Folly Beach vacation rental where you can wake up to beautiful oceanfront views and be minutes away from dipping your toes in the water. If you are a nature-lover, Folly Beach is also a great place to spot Lowcountry wildlife like sea turtles and dolphins. During the summer months, you might even get the chance to see newly hatched sea turtles make their way to the sea!
Sail Around Charleston in a Yacht
Are you up for a bit of luxurious sailing? You and your friends can sail around Charleston for a few hours on a private yacht, taking in some spectacular views while feeling on top of the world.
Whether you want to see a few interesting sights or anchor in a cove to go for a swim, the choice is up to you. This is a unique way to see Charleston and an experience that you won’t soon forget.
Go on a Lowcountry Fishing Adventure
From first-time casters to experienced fishermen, you are bound to have a good time fishing in Charleston’s waterways. The rich, briny waters of the Lowcountry offers ample opportunities for reeling in gorgeous redfish, mackerel, trout, and more.
Fishing isn’t just a summer and spring activity! Try your hand at a winter fishing trip and be prepared to catch plenty of tasty redfish.
Take a Romantic, Sunset Sail
For a truly memorable date, escape the crowded streets and busy restaurants of Charleston and take your significant other out for a sunset sail. There are few things more relaxing than listening to the gentle ocean waves as you watch the sun go down over the Charleston Harbor.
On The Schooner Pride, you can sip red wine and unwind as your sailboat takes you past historic sites. And, don’t worry, there isn’t a narrated boat tour that will take the romance out of the experience!
Kiteboard at Sullivan’s Island
Kiteboarding is common on Sullivan’s Island, where wind and tide conditions are ideal, and there is plenty of room to kiteboard. Bring your own equipment or rent from local vendors scattered all over the small island.
After a fun day of kiteboarding, explore the coastal boutiques and grab a bite to eat at The Obstinate Daughter or Poe’s Tavern.
Take a Rice Field Boat Tour of Magnolia Plantation
Charleston’s plantations are an important part of the city’s history and well worth a visit during your vacation. Magnolia Plantations and Gardens is one of the Holy City’s iconic plantations that offers a glimpse of the past and an understanding of southern history.
At Magnolia Plantation, you can take a rice field boat tour through the old flooded rice fields. This one-hour boat tour is the perfect way to glide along the Ashley River and also offers a nice respite from the heat.
See Charleston From the Water
Even if your Charleston itinerary is jam-packed, you will want to make room for at least one of these waterway activities. Charleston is a city that can’t be explored fully until you have ventured into one of its many enchanting waterways.
- Explore Charleston, charlestoncvb.com/
- On our site: Discover Charleston’s Beauty and Grace
- Also on our site: Weekender’s Guide to Charleston
- On our site: Charleston’s Cocoa Academic: A Leader in the Bean to Bar Movement