Friday, July 6, 2012

Charleston's Watersports And Hot Spots are Tops-Fun And Sun For Visitors And Locals-Tour, Rentals

Kitesurfing in the "Bath"
It was a beautiful Charleston June day. Most of the country was engulfed in a heatwave, South Carolina included. Weather forecasts were calling for 100 degree heat, but on the IOP it was a breezy 89 degrees. At least, my car's temperature gauge said so, and I wasn't going to dispute it. I parked my car on the IOP side of Breach Inlet across from the Boathouse restaurant. Parking here is a matter of chance on a day like this one because spaces are limited. Today, fortune was on my side. I headed out onto the beach.

The wind was keeping the interior heat and humidity off the beach. The tide was near its high point and the ocean's waters were pouring into the narrow inlet, famous for its deadly currents. No swimming allowed, especially at high tide. My plan was to round the tip of the IOP and head up the beach towards the pier, a fairly decent hike. My goal was to take pictures of the beachgoers as I went. I was particularly looking for SUP boarders. On the way I stopped and talked to a few of the people fishing off the beach along the inlet. One young gentleman I talked to was visiting Charleston from Boston. There was no concealing the heavy Bostonian accent. He asked about tours in Charleston. I picked his brain a little to find out what type of tour he would be interested in. I gave him several options and then moved on.
SUPers on the IOP

I spotted a few SUP boarders in the surf and decided this was the spot, about the halfway point between Breach Inlet and the pier. I planted my towel and kicked off my Rainbows. Most of the people in this area of the beach are likely vacationers, staying in one the beach houses lining the shore. I pulled my camera out and began to look for a hot shot. The SUP boarders were making a good shot difficult. They kept on falling off their boards in the heavy surf. The whole idea was to get a picture of them standing on their boards. So, I began to look for other, more interesting footage. There was a family of four taking turns on a skimboard. When it wasn't their turn the two daughters, who looked to be in their twenties, did somersaults in the water. Somersaults in bikinis, interesting. A young couple nearby, possibly honeymooners, were playing paddleball, but not quite the image I was looking for. The best footage was of a man, after completing preparations to kitesurf, taking off down the beach on his board towards the pier with kite in hand navigating the cresting waves with ease. The SUP boarders were still tumbling around in the surf.

I looked down the beach in the direction of Breach Inlet. I saw what looked like a flock of colorful birds dipping and diving  along the beach just beyond the inlet point of Sullivan's Island. At least, that was the best image comparison I could come up with to describe what I saw. In reality, it was the colorful kites of the many kitesurfers who flock to a basin of water on Sullivan's Island called the "Bath". The shifting sands are always changing the topography of this area, but the "Bath" has stood the test of time and has always been a kitesurfing hot spot.

View The Bath in a larger map

Finding a place to park on Marshall Blvd could have been difficult, all of the locals frequent here, but today I was fortunate and had no problem. To reach the best vantage point for picture taking, I had to cross a narrow band of fast-moving water near one of the beach houses. There were a lot more Sup boarders taking advantage of the calmer landlocked water in the Bath. The breeze was perfect for this type of watersport, kitesurfing that is, and was no doubt the main reason for the large turnout. My guess, there were at least twenty kites criss-crossing the sky at any given time. For picture taking, the kitesurfers did not disappoint. They were more than willing to show off their stuff. Keep your kites toward the "eye of the wind".

This is just one of the many places that make Charleston a top destination for water activities and beautiful beaches. Its diverse barrier island network with its vast maze of intracoastal waters stretch north and south of Charleston from Bull Island down to Seabrook Island. Bull Island and Caper's Island are inaccessible by car, but on any given weekend and holiday boaters flock to these islands for their isolated, untouched beauty and large quantities of shells. You can camp overnight on Caper's with a permit and a ferry runs excursions to Bull Island for $40 per person. The excursion to Bull Island is excellent for families and photographers. Kayaking out of the IOP Marina is also an option.

Folly Beach is known as one of the top thirty surfing beaches on the East Coast. The locals flock to the area they call the "Washout", a four block section from 6th to 10th street. The beach itself slightly curves back towards the NW through the break and the waves are less likely to close out than other locations. It is the only relatively consistent break in SC. It becomes very crowded during bigger swells, especially when hurricanes sit off the coast. Its like a big stage.

There are many outfitters (Charleston Watersports, Charleston SUP Safaris, Air and Earth, Tidal Watersports, and Island Paddle Adventure) ready to satisfy your curiosities if you are in need of equipment and lessons. Tours, safaris, boat rentals, surf boards, SUP boards, kayaks, and jet skis are available. Just pick your poison, as the saying goes. There are also several cruises to choose from for a relaxing tour of Charleston's breathtaking bay, famous rivers, and diverse intracoastal waterways like the Palmetto Breeze, Spiritline Cruises, and Charleston Harbor Tours. Maybe, you just want to sit on the beach with your family and enjoy the surf. Charleston is the place.


Chris from said...

Charleston is certainly a must-see for true outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Watersports, fishing, wildlife exploration - you have it all!

David from said...

I should definitely make a plan to visit. Kite surfing is definitely something that I would love to try.