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Charleston Water activities

Our most recommended Charleston Water activities

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy a ferry ride to the grounds of Fort Sumter and explore the grounds at your own pace. Pass by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and take in the sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes. As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

2. Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

Cruise through the Charleston Harbor on an old-fashioned 1920s-Bay-Steamer-replica yacht. Enjoy live narration from the captain and purchase treats from a fully-stocked drink and snack bar. See the Civil and Revolutionary war sights and keep an eye out for dolphins. Relax in the enclosed observatory or on the partially-covered upper deck. Listen carefully as your captain guides you on a journey through more than 300 years of American history. You’ll pass by 75 landmarks and points-of-interest on this 20-mile trip. Get close-up views of the “Holy City,” including Fort Sumter - where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Glide past Confederate and Union army forts and see the famous “Fighting Lady” of World War II. Pass by remnants of the Civil and Revolutionary wars and look for local wildlife like dolphins and pelicans splashing nearby. Choose between indoor or outdoor seating.

Charleston: Charleston Harbor Sightseeing Cruise Tour

3. Charleston: Charleston Harbor Sightseeing Cruise Tour

Take in the amazing sights of Charleston Harbor on a boat tour with live narration from a guide. Gain insight into the history of Charleston while you glide through the gentle waves of the harbor, passing by the Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, and more. Depart from Patriots Point or Aquarium Wharf as you cruise along the coastline of the beautiful Holy City. Hear enthralling tales of the city’s colorful past as well as scintillating facts about its most interesting former citizens. Make sure to bring your camera to capture famous American landmarks such as Fort Sumter, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, and other sites from Charleston's past and present.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

4. Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

Discover 300 years of Charleston history from land and sea with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience a 90-minute narrated tour of Charleston in a climate-controlled luxury coach and then head to the water for another perspective of the city from Charleston Harbor. Learn fascinating historical facts about Charleston while you cruise the gentle waves of her harbor. Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides are licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Don't forget your camera as you will see all that the Holy City has to offer: Charleston's Historic Homes and Churches, the Old Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, and incredible views from Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: Harbor Bar Pedal Boat Party Cruise

5. Charleston: Harbor Bar Pedal Boat Party Cruise

Hop on board and experience Charleston’s favorite party cruise. Enjoy the spacious boat and mingle with your group or private party on a 39-foot pontoon boat in style. Check out local landmarks from the water such as the Ravenel Bridge, Fort Sumter, and the USS Yorktown. Meet your guide and crew at the meeting point and step aboard the comfortable vessel. Feel the ocean breeze swirling around and experience the area's natural beauty on a river tour with the iconic Charleston coastline as the backdrop. Try to spy the abundant local wildlife including majestic pelicans and frolicking dolphins. Take in unparalleled views while taking a turn on one of the optional 12 pedal stations. Equipped with a bar lined with coolers, feel free to bring your own drinks and appetizers.

Folly Island: Guided Dolphin Boat Tour in Folly Beach

6. Folly Island: Guided Dolphin Boat Tour in Folly Beach

Step onboard and explore the amazing coast behind Folly beach. Be amazed while you watch the local wildlife, especially the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that populate the area year-round. You can choose between the boat tour in the morning or the sunset boat cruise. Your experienced captain will share their knowledge about the beautiful ecosystem and local history of Folly Beach. Hear about the famous dolphins as you safely cruise on your boat while respecting the wildlife. Also be on the lookout for strand feeding, a dolphin hunting technique that is unique to this part of the world. Strand feeding is usually seen from July to September. Explore the backwaters and navigate to the historic Morris Island, where you can hunt for fossils, seashells, and sand dollars. Join this signature dolphin tour for an experience you’re not likely to forget.

Charleston Harbor 2-Hour Speedboat Adventure

7. Charleston Harbor 2-Hour Speedboat Adventure

Take the wheel and become the captain of your very own speed boat with this one-of-a-kind adventure tour. Experience driving your own boat while taking in the views from the Charleston harbor. This fully narrated tour takes you 13 miles through the world-famous Charleston Harbor. See everything while listening to a highly trained and professional guide through a two-way communication system.   You will have a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Battery, USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier, Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge, the downtown Charleston skyline, Waterfront Park, South Carolina Aquarium, the cruise ship terminal and all the wildlife that call Charleston Harbor home.  This is a great adventure for all ages.

Charleston: Folly Beach Stand Up Paddleboard Dolphin Safari

8. Charleston: Folly Beach Stand Up Paddleboard Dolphin Safari

Learn the basics of stand up paddleboard surfing on this 2-hour introductory lesson as you explore the peaceful Folly River. Glide alongside beautiful flora and fauna while keeping an eye out for bottlenose dolphins. Following the tides and wind direction, your expert instructor will help you go with the flow for a great beginning paddle. Your instructor will point out all the amazing sights in this truly unique landscape. You can commemorate your experience with a group photo at the end of the tour. Choose your perfect experience with the morning, afternoon, and sunset tour options. Paddleboard, paddle, and a personal floatation device will be provided. Just bring your water shoes or flip flops, swim trunks, and a positive attitude and enjoy two amazing hours on the water.

Charleston: Private Sightseeing & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour

9. Charleston: Private Sightseeing & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour

The only way to see Charleston is the local way from the water! Your tour will begin at the beautiful Remley Light Marina from there we will head over to the waterfront park to view Charleston's Historic Mansions. What I really like to do is customize the adventure for each guest. Here's a few examples: Dolphin tour (they move around) (: Fossil hunting for the adventurous- Shark teeth antique bottles and maybe even a Megalodon! Charleston is a mecca for all kinds of lost treasures. Lunch on a private sandbar Gorgeous Sunsets Shem Creek is a must with the fleet of Shrimp boats and gorgeous scenery Sand Dollar hunting If you have the time I'll take you to Capers Island to see Boneyard beach simply amazing! As your Captain, I will make sure your tour is filled with the beauty that is Charleston by the water.

Charleston: Schooner Sailing Harbor Tour & Dolphin Watch

10. Charleston: Schooner Sailing Harbor Tour & Dolphin Watch

Experience the wonder of sailing on a classic, 84-foot tall ship in the idyllic setting of Charleston Harbor. As you cruise, marvel at the power of the wind filling the sails and the tranquility of the sea. Catch glimpses of historic landmarks, like Fort Sumter, and dolphins gamboling on the waves. Begin your sailing excursion at the Aquarium Wharf. There, meet your captain and crew of the striking, 3-masted ship known as the Schooner Pride. Admire the character and class of this authentic model of the classic coastal trading schooners. Next, prepare to set sail and help the crew as you begin to pull away from the dock. Once the sails are raised, sit back and relax on the benches lining the main deck. Enjoy views of Charleston Harbor stretching out before you. Continue your tour as you cruise past Charleston highlights, such as Fort Sumter, Fort Johnson, and Yorktown Point. Onwards, discover the historic waterfront area of Castle Pinckney. Sail further on waters that Blackbeard once traveled before returning to Aquarium Wharf.

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What people are saying about Charleston

Can be a little chilly sitting outside on the boat in winter, but the ride out to Sumter is nice. Everything is so wonderfully explained that you don't need more than the hour you have after the boat docks. I wish more of our youth would appreciate this kind of history in America. It's not easy to talk about but it is VERY important.

Comfortable ride with good historical information provided on the excursion.

The volunteer gave good background info on the ride to Ft Sumter.

One of the best harbor tours we have taken! Highly recommend!

Great day. Wonderful location lots of history well executed.