Exploring Charleston and the South Carolina Coast

Make Welcome the Wild.

Charleston. With its European downtown walkability, incredible restaurants and historical draw it has become the darling of the east coast in the United States.  Just exploring the peninsula is enough for a vacation, peeking into walled gardens, wandering through museums or taking in sunsets along her waterfront parks.

If you have enough time in your itinerary, consider going beyond the Holy City and into the natural landscapes that surround Charleston.  To the north, Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge offer a combined 300,000 acres of wilderness made up of native longleaf pine habitat, blackwater rivers, barrier islands and saltwater estuaries.  Within their borders, you can find American alligators, bottlenose dolphins, bald eagles, ospreys and endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

 

Boneyard Beach, on the northern end of Bulls Island, is like a Dali painting came to life.  A surreal forest of skeletonized trees, bleach white by the sun and saltwater is stranded in the surf.

Bulls Island Paddle + Hike

One of Coastal Expedition’s most popular trips in this area, the [Bulls Island Paddle + Hike] takes you right to the spot where English settlers first landed in the colony of Carolina in 1670.  With a naturalist guide leading the way, you’ll paddle sea kayaks through the winding saltwater estuary to this barrier island known today as Bulls Island.

This 5,000-acre island is managed for the protection of wildlife and their habitats and hosts an incredible diversity of plants and animals.  Known to many biologists as the “Galapagos of the Eastern Seaboard”,  Bulls Island is home to alligators, bobcats, whitetail deer, fox squirrels and 293 bird species including wood storks, roseate spoonbills, painted buntings and eastern brown pelicans.

Known to many biologists as the “Galapagos of the Eastern Seaboard”,  Bulls Island is home to alligators, bobcats, whitetail deer, fox squirrels and 293 bird species including wood storks, roseate spoonbills, painted buntings and eastern brown pelicans. 

Once you reach the island, you’ll pull the sea kayaks above the high tide line and begin your hike down the beach.  At over 7 miles long, this beach is part of the longest undeveloped stretch of shoreline on the east coast of the United States.  Shelling is spectacular here, and you’ll often find whelks, horse conchs, tuns, sand dollars, lettered olives, sea stars, soft corals and myriad of other types of seashells.  Along the way, you can pick up one or two as the perfect souvenir of the experience.

Hiking through Boneyard Beach, a forest that has been stranded in the surf due to a combination of natural erosion and sea level rise, you walk under trees that have been bleached by the sun until their trunks and limbs resemble bare skeletons, some still proudly standing as the waves crash around their bases.

Once in the interior of the island, the landscape changes to maritime forest, with large live oaks, pines and palmettos dominating the scene.  Alligators, turtles, waterfowl and wading birds live in the freshwater ponds.  Along the way, your guide will identify useful and edible plants, share the history of the island and spot wildlife.

Reaching the landing on the other side of the island (expect to walk 6-7 miles), the Bulls Island Ferry will be waiting to take you back to the mainland by boat.  It’s a relaxing way to end the day in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge after a a day of paddling and hiking.

Once you’re back, you’ll need to eat (if you’re anything like us!).  Drive to the end of Sewee Road and stop in at the Sewee Outpost for a snack and local goods (and a clean bathroom) or sit down for dinner at the Seewee Restaurant across the street.  (The Sewee were the local Native Americans that were the original inhabitants in this area).

At the Seewee Restaurant, order seafood platters (the shrimp and fish are always locally caught),  fried green tomatoes and sides like butter beans or collards to get a true Lowcountry meal.  Ask for Mimi as your server.

 

Coastal Expeditions proudly serves as the concession for group services within Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge since 1992.  We are also permitted outfitters in Cape Romain NWR and Francis Marion National Forest.  Coastal Expeditions is an equal opportunity employer.

Explore. Chat. Visit. And come on back, y’all.
@coastalexpeditions

Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant Rentals

Offering Kayaks and Paddleboards

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant tours.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Click to Book via Text

Isle of Palms Rentals

Offering Kayaks

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Isle of Palms tours.

Rent a Kayak Click to Book via Text

Folly Beach Rentals

Offering Kayaks and Paddleboards

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Folly Beach tours.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Click to Book via Text

Blackwater Rentals

Offering Kayaks

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Blackwater tours.

Rent a Kayak Click to Book via Text

Bulls Island Rentals

Offering Kayaks

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Bulls Island tours.

Rent a Kayak Click to Book via Text

Uncategorized Rentals

Offering Kayaks

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Uncategorized tours.

Rent a Kayak Click to Book via Text