- 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!
The trip begins at 9:00 a.m. at Coastal Expeditions boathouse in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (514-B Mill Street, next to the Shem Creek Bar & Grill). A welcome presentation is followed by a trip orientation covering expedition style kayaking. A gear introduction and introductory skills development in the kayaks is followed by lunch. Next we shuttle to our launch point and begin our paddle through a salt marsh estuary on our way to the barrier island chain. Discussions will focus on bio-diversity and the fragile marine ecosystems; this is one of the most super bio-diversified ecosystems on the planet. Although we cannot guarantee seeing dolphins, they are certainly not shy and we've spotted them on all departures to date. We expect to see 25+ avian species en route to our oceanfront camp sites on Capers Island. The beaches of these barrier islands are completely undeveloped and truly feel otherworldly. We'll set up camp and then head out with our naturalist guides for some beach exploration. 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 Atlantic while tucking into our sleeping bags for the night.
Kayaking: 5-7 miles
Day 2 - Paddle to Bull Island, a wilderness area relatively unchanged by man.
Begin the day with optional morning yoga, followed by a fresh, organic breakfast. We'll explore the pristine Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge this morning. 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 were greeted by the SeeWee Native American tribe in the year 1670. We return to our campsite on Capers Island for a locally-sourced dinner, followed by a guided group discussion and itinerary review for Day 3.
Kayaking: 8-12 miles; Hiking: 1-2 miles
Day 3 - Explore the geology of a barrier island while circumnavigating it.
We again begin our morning with optional sunrise yoga, followed by a hearty breakfast. Barrier island geology will be our focus today, 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'll 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. Throughout our trip, our guides will be harvesting and teaching about the local edibles (blue crabs, oysters, plants) and we'll spend part of today gathering our dinner supplies (participation is optional). We'll learn and discuss how the native population made a living off the estuary environment for hundreds of years. We return to our beachfront base camp for dinner and overnight.
Kayaking: 4-5 miles
Day 4 - Take a morning paddle before departing.
Yoga, breakfast and paddling! We'll be immersed in a salt marsh estuary as we navigate the winding creeks between the barrier islands and the mainland. Today's emphasis is on rising water levels and current human impact on coastal ecosystems. We'll begin to develop a more rounded concept of the connections we have with the inner working of the coastal environment. Arriving at the mainland, we'll shuttle back to our starting point and bid a fond farewell to our fellow adventurers. The trip will conclude by 2:00 p.m.
Kayaking: 5-7 miles.
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; tents and group camping gear; camp stoves and group cooking gear; kayaks and related paddling gear.
Transportation from your hometown to the starting point of the trip; sleeping bags and sleeping pads; insurance of any kind; alcoholic beverages; soft drinks; optional guide gratuities; 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, depending on departure date, typically range between 70° to 80°F, with evening temperatures dropping to 50°-65°F and sometimes lower (plan for cooler temperatures on early spring departures and late fall departures). You may encounter cool and rainy conditions, including fog and wind. Rain is a possibility so adequate raingear is necessary for this trip.
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 baby/talcum powder (for help in removing sand from skin)
- Hand sanitizer gel or wipes, travel size
- 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.