By Holly Fisher
McKevlin’s Surf Shop on Folly Beach rents hundreds
of surf boards each day during the busy summer
season. Some people take surfing lessons while
others just paddle around in the waves. Either way,
shop manager Brian Eichelman said interest in more
adventurous activities is growing.
“The amount of interest in (surfing) has grown in the
last five years,” he said. “It’s in the mainstream media
now. Even in the Midwest, they are featuring surfing
and now everyone wants to try it. The image is more
Visitors coming to Charleston with outdoor activities
on their minds have come to the right place. The
Lowcountry has all the makings for an adventurous
vacation - water, nature and an unparalleled
ecosystem ripe for exploration.
Last year Outside magazine ranked Charleston No. 6
on its “Best Town Ever” list. Charleston also made it
on the magazine’s list of best towns for surfing (East
Coast) in 2010, noting “the Charleston area,
especially Folly Beach, is home to one of the East
Coast's most vibrant surf scenes.”
But surfing the Washout at Folly is just one of many
local adventures visitors are soaking up; others are
trying their hand at parasailing, fishing, running,
kayaking or one of the many adventure or nature tours.
Kathie Livingston, an ecologist and master naturalist,
owns Nature Adventures Outfitters, offering kayak and
canoe tours and instruction. With equipment for all
ages and experience levels, Livingston can take
families kayaking in Shem Creek for some quality
time with the dolphins that frequent the creek and the
manatees that visit during warm weather.
Also the president of the state’s Nature-Based
Tourism Association, Livingston said the area’s
wildlife and eco-tours are becoming very popular
thanks to spots like Capers Island, Bulls Island, Cape
Romain Natural Wildlife Refuge and Francis Marion
“There’s just a plethora of things,” she said.
Travel to the outskirts of Mount Pleasant to Awendaw
and take advantage of the miles of hiking trails as well
as the Sewee Visitor & Environmental Education
Center, which supports Cape Romain National
Wildlife Refuge and Francis Marion National Forest.
Cape Romain was established in 1932 as a migratory
bird refuge so it’s a good place to spot some of the
more than 200 bird species in this area.
“The cool thing about Charleston is it has the perfect
balance of cultural and natural history,” Livingston said.
That blend is just what keeps business booming at
Adventure Harbor Tours. Owner Howie Weil takes
boatloads of people on a more than two-hour tour of
Morris Island where they stop for a history lesson and
a chance to collect shark teeth.
Entering just his third season, Weil said he never
imagined how quickly business would grow, but eco-
tours are on the rise, he said. Plus, people love his
hands-on tours where they can look for shells, shark
teeth and see jelly fish up close.
“Morris Island, with nothing manmade built on it, is a
gift,” he said. “It’s the nicest beach around - you just
have to get there by boat. There is treasure all over the
Here are a few of these resources for planning an
adventure in Charleston
Sewee Visitor & Environmental Education Center
5821 Highway 17 North
Awendaw, SC 29429
S.C. Paddlesports Industry Association
S.C. Nature-Based Tourism Association
Running the Bridge
Fitness is also a large part of
Charleston’s culture with 5K races
scheduled for every weekend in the
spring and early summer. One of the
world’s premiere 10K races is the
Cooper River Bridge Run that winds from
Mount Pleasant across the Arthur
Ravenel Jr. Bridge and ends in downtown
Charleston. This year’s Bridge Run sold
out more than three weeks before the
race when it hit the 43,000 cap. For a list
of other local races and adventure runs,
check out the Charleston Running Club’s
In 2006, residents and visitors spent a
combined $2.5 billion on wildlife
recreation in South Carolina, according
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
including $844 million of that for trip-
related expenditures. So, not only is
recreation fun for South Carolina, it’s an
important piece of the state’s economy.