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Charleston's Coastal Beauty & Diversity

By: PremiereCharleston.com Beach Editor 06/10/2010

Dateline: Kiawah Beach, SC. Moms and dads sizzle in the sun. Diaper-butted babies splash in tidal pools. 10-year-old boys wipe out spectacularly on boogie boards. People of all shapes and sizes bob in the waves. Farther out, the occasional dolphin fin breaches the surface, and pelicans do that insane kamikaze dive of theirs. Out on the misty horizon, a half-dozen shrimp boats ply their trade, harassed by squadrons of gulls.


It’s weird to imagine the possibility of this all simply going away.


At press time, it is day 50 of the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. As the oil plumes/globs/balls/ whatever you call them drift closer to the Gulf Coast, we are beginning to hear of the possibility of the currents and winds carrying the spill around the Florida peninsula and up the east coast.  PremiereCharleston.com hereby states for the record that this would be, you know, not a good thing.


Relax - that’s as political as this piece is going to get. Instead, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the Beauty and Diversity of Charleston’s Coastal Environment.


This beauty and diversity goes way beyond a day at the beach. There are roughly (very roughly to an English major!) 60 miles of coastline between Edisto and Bulls Bay, and dozens of ways to enjoy the nature scene.  Let’s take a look at a few of your options this summer….


Ecotourism in Charleston

Ecotourism, green tourism, sustainable tourism… by any name, this is the latest thing. According to Wikipedia, ecotourism is “responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale.”  The point is to enjoy the natural surroundings while managing not to destroy them.  Check it out: Eco-tourism Charleston


Charleston Kayak Tours

There’s no better way to take in the tranquil beauty of the back creek salt marshes and uninhabited barrier islands than by kayak. Naturalist guides give you all the know-how you need to deepen your appreciation of the local ecosystem. Check out this link: Charleston Kayak Tours

Charleston Dolphin Watching Tours

Seeing two or three dolphins for about five seconds off of Kiawah is thrilling enough. I can only imagine a guided tour to the dolphin hangouts in the barrier islands and salt marshes must be a blast. In Charleston, you have many opportunities to check out our bottle-nosed friends, as well as loggerhead turtles. Here is a helpful link: Charleston Dolphin Tours


Charleston Fishing Charters

It seems like every fifth guy you meet in Charleston owns a fishing charter business. These dudes will take you out to the inlets, salt marshes and tidal creeks at the crack of dawn in search of red drum, flounder, trout or shark. Catch and keep or catch and release, these skippers know all the good spots.  Check out this link: Charleston Fishing Charters


Charleston’s South Carolina Aquarium

Aside from being a cool tourist attraction, the Aquarium (celebrating its 10th anniversary) is heavily involved in local conservation efforts, sea turtle rescue, sustainable seafood initiatives and marine & environmental research. Also, it’s a cool tourist attraction, right in the heart of downtown Charleston! Check ‘em out!


Get the Young’uns Involved in Nature!

The County parks department offers nature programming for kids at Folly, IOP and Kiawah Beaches. It’s a nice way to get kids in the eco-mindset, and by the looks of the kids I saw at Kiawah, it’s a lot of fun. Programs include:  

  • Secrets in the Sand: Beachcombing for all the interesting animals in the sand, interpretation by staff, and release.
  • Native Americans of Coastal South Carolina 
  • Seining the Sea: Catching fish, jellies and crabs with nets, interpretation by staff, and release.
  • Learning Beach Beautification: Beach cleaning for fun and prizes!
  • Barrier Island Ecology
  • Build Your Own Barrier Island (and, presumably, selling it for $6.5 million!)

 Call 843-889-8898 for details, or visit the CCPRC website.


Obviously, this is a small glimpse of the nature scene here in the Lowcountry. Do some research, gather up the family, and make a day of appreciating Charleston’s natural beauty and diversity!


Hey, who knows? It might be a limited-time offer!


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