- Immerse yourself in an active adventure on South Carolina's Barrier Islands
- Kayak alongside dolphins, hike on "Bone Yard Beach" and view plentiful bird life
- Follow naturalist guides, enjoy tasty meals, and stay at a beautiful campsite
- Visit Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge, Bull Island, and Capers Island Preserve
Coastal Carolina's Barrier Islands provide some of the most spectacular wilderness ecosystems in the country, teeming with diverse wildlife and untouched shorelines. Our active weekend explores this wilderness's undeveloped beachfront and 8,000 acres of pristine maritime forest.
Few adventures can compare to paddling these coastlines alongside playful Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the warm afternoon sunshine. We also pull ashore and hike the bone yard beaches and dense coastal forests home to myriad wildlife, including 275 species of birds. On the southern end of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, we explore a wilderness area known as one of the best birding locations in the nation: Bull Island. Capers Island Heritage Preserve serves as our oceanfront basecamp on this expedition-style weekend paddle.
Our local naturalist guides have a wealth of knowledge of the natural and human history of this coastline. They also prepare truly gourmet backcountry meals! Join us on this engaging weekend excursion as we provide unmatched access to, and expert interpretation of, one of the most stunning and diverse coastlines on the planet.
- Day 1 - Welcome to South Carolina's amazing coastline!
- Day 2 - Paddle to Bull Island, a wilderness area relatively unchanged by man.
- Day 3 - Explore the geology of a barrier island while circumnavigating it.
- Day 4 - Take a morning paddle before departing.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Welcome to South Carolina's amazing coastline!
Meet 9:00am at Shem Creek. We will have a welcome presentation followed by a trip orientation covering expedition style kayaking gear/equipment introduction as well as introductory skills development in the kayaks. After the orientation period we will have lunch and shuttle a short distance to our launch point. After launching out boats, we will journey through the salt marsh estuary on our way out to the barrier island chain. This is one of the most super bio-diversified ecosystems on the planet. Although we cannot guarantee seeing dolphins, we have spotted them on all departures to date, they are certainly not shy. The focus of the trip today is bio-diversity and the fragile marine ecosystems. We should expect to see over 25 different avian species in route to our oceanfront camp sites on Capers Island. The beaches of these barrier islands are completely undeveloped and truly feel otherworldly. We will make camp and have the opportunity for naturalist guided beach exploration. Our communal dinner will be followed by a guided group discussion and itinerary review for the following day. We will enjoy the bright starry sky, far from light pollution, and listen to the crashing waves of the bold Atlantic while tucking into camp for the night. Lunch and Dinner included; approximately 8-10 miles of paddling today.
Day 2 - Paddle to Bull Island, a wilderness area relatively unchanged by man.
Our first full day in the Islands will begin a beautiful ocean sunrise, optional morning yoga, followed by fresh organic breakfast. Today we will explore the pristine Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Our destination is "Bone Yard Beach" on Bull Island. The Bull Island experience includes both paddling and maritime forest hiking as we explore the vast stretches of beach and inland hiking trails and ponds, alligator spotting guaranteed. The birding should be excellent as we move through the dynamic edges between ecosystems separating the forest from the sea. Human history and it's integral connection to natural history will be our focus today as we experience the original landing spot of the ships that first landed here, and where they were greeted by the SeeWee Native American tribe in 1670. We will conclude our day by returning to our ocean front camp site on Capers Island. Our locally sourced cooked dinner will be followed by a guided group discussion and itinerary review for the following day. Once again the Atlantic Ocean will lull us to sleep under the stars. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included; approximately 8-10 miles of paddling today.
Day 3 - Explore the geology of a barrier island while circumnavigating it.
Today we will again begin with optional sunrise yoga followed by fresh organic breakfast. Today we will use the kayaking skills we have learned circumnavigating the barrier island. Barrier island geology will be our focus as we experience the transgressional migration of the land mass itself in its slow migration towards the main land. While we are paddling around the islands, we will explore the intimate relationship between island, estuary and ocean. Surrounded by a diverse array of birdlife, playful dolphins, and untouched shoreline, it is easy to picture what early life was like in this warm subtropical waterway. Following our full day on the water we will return to our beachfront base camp for final dinner together, reflecting on the magnificently natural places we have explored. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included; approximately 8-10 miles of paddling today.
Day 4 - Take a morning paddle before departing.
The final day of our adventure we will enjoy another stunning sunrise over the Atlantic along with another optional morning yoga session, followed by our fresh organic breakfast. Our paddle today will find us immersed in the salt marsh estuary as we navigate the winding creeks between the barrier islands and the mainland. Today's focus is on rising water levels and current human impact on coastal ecosystems. We will begin to develop a more round concept of the connections we have with the inner working of the coastal environment. Arriving back at the main land we will be shuttled back to our original starting point. After a final trip wrap up we bid a fond farewell to our fellow adventurers. Ending time will be no later than 14:00 EST. Breakfast and Lunch included; 8-10 miles of paddling.
Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline ticket to confirm the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.
Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; shuttle services; 3 nights camping accommodations; kayaks.
Transportation from your hometown to Mount Pleasant SC; insurance of any kind; alcoholic beverages; soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated Moderate (3) as we plan to kayak 4-6 hours per day in calm to moderately rough conditions. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest that you engage in a regular exercise regimen beginning at least three months prior to your departure. Most important to your enjoyment of the trip is your overall fitness level.
Daytime temperatures are usually mid 80°F, with evening temperatures dropping to 65 - 70°. You may encounter cool and rainy conditions, including fog and wind. Rain is a possibility so adequate raingear is important.
Charleston International Airport (CHS), Charleston, SC: 30 minutes
Hilton Head Island (HHH) Hilton Head, SC: 2 - 2½ hours
Myrtle Beach (MYR), Myrtle Beach, SC: 2 hours
If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Coastal Carolina Sea Kayaking Video
Coastal Carolina Sea Kayaking Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary - this will help you and the field staff.
- Life jacket and spray skirt
- Dry bag - 1 small for personal gear
- 2 person tents, double occupancy
- Cooking gear and eating utensils
- Group first-aid kit
- Sleeping bag rated to 30º - 40ºF
- Sleeping pad
- Rain jacket with hood, waterproof and breathable
- Rain pants, waterproof and breathable
- Sweater or jacket, wool or fleece
- Thermal underwear top and bottom
- T-shirts (no cotton)
- Long sleeve shirt
- Long pants
- Wool or warm synthetic socks
- Lightweight hiking boots
- Wetsuit booties, water sport sandals, or old tennis shoes
- Paddling gloves
- Beach towel
- Wool or fleece hat
- Sun / rain hat
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Toiletry kit (toothbrush, travel-sized paste, deodorent, personal medications, etc.)
- Sun block and lip balm
- Plastic bags - Ziploc for wet clothes
- Two to three 1-quart water bottles
- Favorite snacks
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Insect repellent
- Camera and film spare, batteries
- Small dry bag for personal gear
- Small binoculars (7x or 8x are best)
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.