Thursday, September 24, 2015

SUPing Folly Creek--Full Of Natural Beauty, Fascinating Wonders, And Teaming With Life

As the warm, morning sun rises above the Atlantic surf and washes over the sandy beachfront on the Edge of America, the ever impinging light unendingly confirms an already well established verifiable fact. The boundless Folly Beach landscape is a stunningly beautiful tangled blue web of saltwater creeks, rivers, and estuary marshes. It is this dazzling network of rising and ebbing saltwater that decidedly makes it a water sportsman’s wonderland of swimming, boating, fishing, surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

From the southern tip at Folly Beach Park to Lighthouse Inlet, Folly Beach has seven miles of beachfront ideal for sunning and swimming. The Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier is one of Folly's more prominent landmarks. Stretching 1,045 feet into the Atlantic surf, it has some of the best saltwater fishing in the area. The Washout has gained prominence as one of the more popular surfing spots along the East Coast. With 6.4 square miles of water, there is plenty of shoreline for the boater and kayaker to explore. However, for this article, I will be focusing on what Folly Beach has to offer the renting SUPer.

Although, you can rent paddleboards and transport them to wherever you want, there are two main entry points for paddleboard renting on Folly Beach--Folly Creek and Folly River. The choices and locations are Coastal Expeditions on Folly Road next to Crosby Fish and Shrimp, Charleston Outdoor Adventures next to Bowens Island Restaurant or Charleston SUP Safaris on Center Street at Flipper Finders.

After surveying the options, I chose Coastal Expeditions on Folly Creek. In my judgment, Folly Creek was the better access point. There was far less boat traffic and it was closer to more secluded areas of the surrounding estuary. Admittedly, the ultimate deciding factor that tipped my selection in favor of Coastal Expeditions came from a conversation I had with a couple who just came back from a paddleboarding excursion on Folly Creek. They mentioned seeing a partially sunken boat and that little bit of information peaked my interest.

I paid the $28 for 2 hours rental fee at a small office located in a wooden planked building and made final preparations for the paddle. It was a hot, humid afternoon, so I purchased a cold bottle of water at Crosby Fish and Shrimp, put my cell phone in the requested dry bag for safe keeping when not taking pictures and made the short walk to the pier. On the way, I passed a fisherman busy sorting through his catch of blue crab. Two large shrimp boats bearing the scars of their many years of service were moored at docks close to the fishing pier/boat dock where the guide awaited my arrival. It was high tide. The skies were partly cloudy blue. A challenging breeze was present. With dry bag and flip flops secured, I boarded the long board and shoved off into the warm waters of Folly Creek. It was going to be a great paddle.

My planned course would take me towards Bowens Island and the eclectic Bowen's Island Restaurant--a longtime favorite oyster stop for locals and a Hollywood icon—it was featured in the movie "Dear John." I wanted to take pictures of the restaurant from the water. I paddled past a huge estate with a large swimming platform before entering the more secluded stretch of Folly Creek where marsh grass and tall trees lined the shoreline leading to the restaurant. The brisk breeze at my back pushed me along at a pretty decent clip as I navigated and surfed the cresting waters. A mile into my paddle, I arrived at my desired destination and took numerous pictures of the old restaurant. I sat on my board with my feet and legs dangling in the water and soaked in the calming ambience and soothing sounds of my surroundings.

On the way back, I encountered the partially sunken boat—a ghostly relic from Hurricane Hugo. I curiously observed five great white heron foraging the edges of the marsh grass until they tired of my presence and spent a considerable amount of time being entertained by a group of six dolphins with young at their sides swim around my paddleboard. One dolphin afforded me the rare treat of seeing it totally breach the surface of the water. Sadly, my cell phone was packed away in the dry bag at the time. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the skies began to darken. It was time to leave the beautifully enriching scene.

In comparison to other paddleboard locations throughout the Charleston Lowcountry, I would consider Folly Creek a favorite, followed closely by Morgan Creek on the Isle of Palms. The Folly Beach estuary is a stunningly beautiful tangled blue web of saltwater creeks, rivers, and marshes full of natural beauty, fascinating wonders, and teaming with life.

Coastal Expeditions Folly Beach
2223 Folly Rd
(843) 406-0640

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