With more than three decades as a marine biologist tucked under his waders, Dr. Joe Richardson has studied beaches from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, but he still never ceases to marvel at the diversity of Tybee Island’s shores. The widely published professor emeritus of marine sciences at Savannah State University delights in sharing his knowledge about these lively shores, and to that end hosts walking tours for groups of all ages that incorporate conversation and hands-on activities. As his followers comb their fingers and toes through the sand of the beaches and inlets, they search for fossilized shark teeth and animals that Dr. Joe helps identify. He also discusses the tides, sand layers, local marine life, and which creatures eat with salad forks or soup spoons. Along the rock jetty, groups splash into tide pools to learn about the intertidal zone and the ways animals adapt to this habitat, then help Dr. Joe collect live specimens for a field aquarium by pulling in a 50-foot beach seine net and examining the fish and crabs caught in its weave. Lucky guests can glimpse the sleek fins of dolphins, and curious ones can ask Dr. Joe about his research projects, current ecological concerns, and how mermaids keep their fingers from getting pruny.
Daufuskie Discoveries creates opportunities to explore Daufuskie Island's lush, historic habitat with customized guided or private outings. An enclosed or open-air water taxi quickly shuttles small groups from Hilton Head or Savannah to the island's three-mile stretch of sandy beach in 30 minutes, with captains tossing out facts about Calibogue Sound and Cooper River. Customers disembark and board their conveyance of choice—golf cart, boat, or shoes—before bursting through the tree line into specific isle regions, such as Bloody Point, which houses the Bloody Point Cemetery and Bloody Point Lighthouse & Silver Dew Winery. Three-hour private cruises skirt the coastline as a guide artfully describes the sun dipping beneath marshes as a hot air balloon deflated by a stampeding herd of storks.
Savannah's Clay Spot familiarizes fledgling sculptors with ceramic art during two-hour introductory classes. Donatello-inspired duos can journey to the center's fully equipped studio, where they are encouraged to craft strategically shaped bisques upon a potter's wheel or hand-sculpt a personal collection of Bob Dole statuettes. After students have finished their muddy masterpieces, the studio's kiln gurus will fire and glaze pieces to ensure durability. Students can then take completed works home. Though the center provides students with tools and equipment, students must purchase clay from the studio's specialized stock.
Whether they're gliding around a polished roller-skating rink or carefully lining up putts on the Swamp Golf course, kids are never at a loss for fun at Skate Station. The fun center compiles a variety of attractions at one location so families can spend a day playing together. The arcade areas holds air-hockey tables and all sorts of ticket games to rack up high scores on, and kids can bust out pretend parkas and oxygen masks to scale Skate Station's rock-climbing wall.
The Shoemaker clan has been sailing around the East Coast since the 1600s, making the family as native to South Carolina as the state's alligators and seaside bluffs resembling John C. Calhoun. After inheriting an in-depth aquatic knowledge from his father, who spent 25 years as a commercial fisherman, Captain Chris Shoemaker—a Coast Guard–licensed captain—conveys that love of the water to even more generations by leading fishing, shrimping, and crabbing excursions on his 24-foot Carolina Skiff boat. Collectively known as May River Excursions, Captain Chris and his crew make twice-daily trips to Daufuskie Island, a rustic, historical idyll with a single schoolhouse, dirt roads, and wild bald eagles, armadillos, and alligators that still comprise the island's local constabulary. The guides also lead regular 90-minute tours along the May River in search of ospreys, egrets, and dolphins, always including a history lesson about the country surrounding the towns of Bluffton and Hilton Head.
Modeled after The Amazing Race, The City Scramble is a hyper-local adventure that pits teams of two against one another to complete a series of tasks and clues with a cash prize waiting at the end for the winning team ($250 for each person on the team, a $500 total first-place prize). Check-in on the day of the race begins at 7 a.m. at Mill Top Tavern, where racers will don matching T-shirts and mingle with the competition before setting out on the adventure at 8 a.m. Cameras, maps, running shoes, and cell phones are recommended racing paraphernalia. A portion of the registration fees are routed to Art Breakers, a foundation of artists dedicated to supporting the needs of local cancer patients. Check the rules, and pre-register online by Wednesday, August 4 with this online form.