Helmed by local biologist and US Coast Guard–certified captain Meg Hoyle, Botany Bay Ecotours leverages scientific expertise while exposing Edisto Island's natural beauty through leisurely boat tours and educational kayak excursions. Dolphin eco tours set off in pursuit of clear, memorable glimpses of the bottle-nosed creatures, while sunset tours showcase the exquisite colors of the sun setting over the beach and birds heading to their marshland roosts. Guests looking for a similar experience on dry land can observe turtles on the beach or head off on a private island safari. Guides augment the sightseeing experiences with rich explanations of the history and biology of local wildlife, as well as the region's low-country and Gullah culture.
An armada of sea kayaks quietly slices through the sparkling waters of Broad Creek, suddenly interrupted by the playful splashes of two bottlenose dolphins sidling up to the fleet. As the people in the kayaks erupt into squeals of glee, one of Water Dog Outfitters’ seasoned guides launches into an impromptu lesson explaining dolphin behaviors and why they’ve alighted upon the kayaks. This awe-inspiring interaction is the reason Water Dog Outfitters was founded in 1998, and today its knowledgeable staff continue to lead engaging, history-laced tours around Hilton Head Island, Pinckney Island, and the surrounding lowlands. While the company’s focus remains on maritime exploits along local rivers and impressive puddles, Water Dog’s cadre of naturalists also returns to terra firma to lead bicycle tours and hikes for explorers of all ages and abilities.
Some people spend their days working with computers and copiers; the staff at Parasail Hilton Head prefer parasails, banana boats, and jet skis. Based at Salty Fare Boat Landing, the team shares its sense of adventure with visitors ages 6 and up.
During parasailing outings, Parasail Hilton Head's 31-foot parasail boat zooms through Skull Creek, lifting riders up to 500 feet into the air so that they can ogle the area's million-dollar homes, drifting sailboats, and frolicking dolphins. The company's captains also cut zigzags into the water during wild banana boat rides for up to six people, and they let customers do the driving by renting out jet skis by the hour.
Marshgrass Adventures' staff designs expeditions that explore their passion for the diverse ecology of the Lowcountry region, including Hilton Head Island. From fishing outings to leisurely kayak tours, the knowledgeable guides enlighten tour goers on the varied flora and fauna that litter the shorelines. The staff supports both catching and releasing or grilling the area's fish, which include trout, tarpon, and redfish. Guests on stand-up paddleboards slip out across the water, perfecting their balance quickly as they cut among swaying grasses and blue herons.
The salty sea sprays behind Captain Michael’s boat as he veers into the ocean near Hilton Head with his trusty first mate—a great dane named Dozer—by his side. As captain and owner of On the Water Hilton Head, Michael guides kayak trips through Lowcountry salt marshes and tidal creeks, and leads boat trips to view dolphins and seabirds in the waters around Pinckney Island and Port Royal Sound. Michael also runs water-taxi rides, charters fishing trips, and encourages visitors to take to the water themselves with kayak, standup-paddleboard, and jet-ski rentals.
The guides and instructors at Palmetto Paddle Sports help customers explore the world around Hilton Head Island from the perspective of the water. Inside kayaks, they lead groups of fellow rowers through the waters surrounding the island, where they can take in picturesque scenes of nature and wildlife. Paddleboard instructors teach students the techniques they need to traverse local waters atop a stand-up paddleboard, from rowing motions that help them keep their balance to angry gestures that will prevent turtles from cutting them off in traffic.