By Abby Hibbard, Guest Contributor
It’s no surprise that as a coastal city with countless waterways and incredible year-round weather, Charleston SC is a big boating town. From those who are looking to "reel in the big one" on a fishing charter, or relax on a weekend afternoon on one of the winding creeks throughout the sea islands, you can take your pick. If your toughest decision on a Saturday morning is whether you want to boat to Kiawah Beach, or cruise the creeks of the Stono River, you’re doing life right.
Living on Johns Island means that on Saturday mornings when we decide to take the boat out, we start our day on the Stono River and either head south toward Kiawah Island, or north toward Wappo Cut/Charleston Harbor. Spending the morning at the very end of Kiawah (most refer to it as “Kiawah Beach by boat”) is one of my favorite mornings. There are tons of family and friends with boats pulled up on the sand, listening to music and forgetting the work week that was. Whether it’s high or low tide there's plenty of beach left for relaxing – but keep in mind you’ll have to move your anchor when the tide changes.
We head out by the afternoon, and on our "flats boat" we leisurely cruise the creeks – usually Penny Creek, right off the Stono River. You can always count on it to be smooth & glassy with barely any other boats, but you’ll find the occasional fisherman throwing in a line. If you take the creek all the way up, it’ll lead you toward Limehouse Bridge – a nice, quiet ride on a sunny afternoon.
Depending on the day, we’ll take the boat through Wappoo Creek to the Ashley River and make a quick turn to dock at California Dreaming. On a summer afternoon when the weather is nice, it’s a pretty busy place to get a bite to eat, but if you’re lucky, you can dock right up and enjoy a cocktail and delicious meal. We’ve taken the boat over to Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant too – without a doubt a great area to indulge in the freshest seafood as this is the spot that the longtime local shrimping fleet calls home. Although busy with boat traffic, stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers and shrimpers, Shem Creek is a hub for restaurants and bars and there is a friendly, party-like atmosphere nearly any time of the day. Heading home at dusk as the sunset begins, the water is calm and you can see the dolphins jumping in your wake – what’s more lowcountry than that?!
For the first time ever, this year I even camped by boat. We dropped our flats boat, "Riptide," in at Limehouse Bridge Boat Landing and had a short little ride over to Wolf Island. This is a barely-touched little spot, with ancient oak trees, that was just perfect for a few tents and a firepit. We ended up pulling 5 boats up to the sandbar on the island and the group of us spent the night listening to crickets and the waves crashing on the beach. In the morning, we packed up (it had started to rain) and luckily had quick ride back to the boat landing - or for the lucky ones, right to their down dock.
The best part of boating in Charleston is that it’s truly a year-round activity. I found myself in the boat at Thanksgiving, in mid-February (something a Northerner wouldn’t say) reeling in red fish in the Cooper River, and it’s incredibly common to hop in the boat for a few hours after work - one of the best wind-down methods I highly recommend.
Note: Charleston offers up an array of options for those interested in living on or near the water. From Johns Island to James Island, Wadmalaw, Mt Pleasant or Daniel Island there are loads of communities that offer up waterfront living. If you want to walk out to your own private dock, have a community dock with a slip of your own, or simply live near a marina where you can drive and be on your boat in no time, there are real estate options that offer all that ... and more. When it comes to living on the water in Charleston - your options are plentiful - and your dreams might only be limited by the size of your boat. Why not dream big?