Goin' Coastal Charters opens up the sea and its bounty to weekend adventurers. Whether the goal is fishing, partying, or sightseeing, Captain Scott Griffin has a specially-designed tour in mind, and his two-vessel fleet runs quick and comfortable. Throughout his fishing trips, Griffin offers advice on how to catch?and cook?wily species such as redfish and sheepshead.
Captain Kevin and Cecilia McCarthy have always been fond of the sea. Born and raised in the port town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Kevin sojourned south in 1968 before meeting his wife Cecilia, whose family had arrived on the marshy shores of Fernandina nine generations ago. After Kevin worked as a building contractor for nearly 30 years, he and Cecilia opted to embrace their shared love for being on the water, and founded Amelia River Cruises in the summer of 2000. Twelve years later, their fleet is three U.S. Coast Guard–inspected boats strong, and each cruises steadily along myriad tours of Cumberland Island, Beach Creek, and the shores of Amelia Island. History buffs rejoice in narrated jaunts down the Intracoastal Waterway that lead to the Kingsley Plantation—whose 1797 establishment makes it the oldest surviving plantation house in Florida—before traveling to the historic Fort Caroline National Memorial, one of the first permanent settlements in North America. Two-hour eco tours journey through state parks and aquatic preserves, where hands-on shrimping experiences let guests identify their captured creatures before asking them the current exchange rate of a sand dollar and releasing them back into the wild. The local and surrounding ecosystem, with diverse wildlife that appears most prominently during the summer months, boasts playful pods of dolphins, an abundance of shore birds, and sea turtles who visit to nest on nearby island shores.
For 30 years, Beach Marine has been a place where customers can stop for anything boating?as well as a selection that stretches further than boating gear. On-site, visitors will find 350 wet slips, 350 dry storage slips, boats for sale and rent, and a nautical ship store and service department. They can also pick up accessories such as fishing-pole outriggers and water tubes, not to mention bait and fuel. In addition, the marina also features a number of amenities, including a weight room, a laundry room, and multiple restaurants. Those without their own watercraft can rent jet skis, kayaks, and eight-person pontoons.
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.
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.
Amid cypress swamps and the gurgling waters of Seventeen-Mile River, anglers and nature enthusiasts alike can quiet their minds and enjoy the sunshine. While spending the nights at one of General Coffee State Park's 50 primitive campsites, visitors can spend the day with their line in the water, spotting gopher tortoises crawl through endangered plants in the wiregrass nearby. But there's also plenty to do besides fish. The onsite Heritage Farm, for instance, showcases the area's agricultural history with log cabins, a tobacco barn, a cane mill, and a corn crib, as well as friendly sheep, chickens, and pigs. To get the full rustic experience, campers can also roast hot dogs in a fire pit, draw water for their breakfast from the nearby spigots, and look up at the stars to find all the constellations they just made up.