Divers clad in tanks and fins plunge beneath the water's surface. As their eyes adjust to the submerged world, they start to recognize the telltale outline of a sunken subway car, but its once-metallic exterior is almost unrecognizable as it's now covered with colorful coral. A school of spadefish scatters as scuba divers move in closer and begin to uncover the mystery of the Atlantic's depths.
The team at Charleston Scuba's PADI five-star instructor development center helps moments like these unfold. Experienced divers lead classes for ages 8 and up, introducing essential scuba skills and the safety techniques needed to shoe a seahorse. During advanced courses, instructors hone in on specialties such as deep-river diving. The staff also facilitates underwater breathing with an in-house repair department and retail store.
For chartered voyages, a Coast Guard-certified captain ushers divers into the Trinity?an Island Hopper custom-built for diving and equipped with showers and first aid amenities. The ship's crew navigates the vessel toward reefs and submerged wreckage. They also help passengers snag above-water sights such as flocks of wild rubber duckies during custom harbor cruises.
Captain John Ward Jr. presides over Affinity Charters’ trio of seaworthy vessels, which slice through Charleston Harbor’s surging whitecaps during boat tours, charters, and fishing trips. Ward Jr. holds a 100-ton Masters License from the U.S. Coast Guard, and his overarching goal is to provide guests with experiences that are safe, exciting, and productive.
During fishing trips, Captain Ward Jr. taps his more than 25 years of experience navigating Charleston's aquatic arteries to usher fisherpeople through the nutrient-rich ecosystem. Attendees cast their lines for numerous seasonal species, including sea bass, Spanish mackerel, and the increasingly rare leather boot.
Dolphin-encounters tours put seafarers face-to-bottlenose with an undulating army of slick-skinned mammals splashing through their natural habitat. Alternatively, information-hungry patrons can climb on board for an eco tour, where Captain Ward Jr. imparts facts about the harbor’s ecological ebb and flow, as well as its vibrant panoply of blacktip sharks, barracudas, and mer-senators. The harbor and sunset cruise allows drifting duos to observe the sun’s incandescent descent into a kaleidoscopic loch of rippling reds, oranges, and yellows, which glint off of downtown Charleston.
Though built only in 2011, the nonprofit Redux Contemporary Art Center’s new 12,000-square-foot facility stays bustling all year, hosting six to eight free exhibitions in two galleries. After taking in the artwork, visitors can attend numerous free events, such as artist talks, film screenings, panels, and concerts. More than 100 classes foster artistic inclinations throughout the year as local qualified instructors help students master disciplines such as painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Redux's galleries stay full thanks in part to its 22 private artist studios, which accommodate emerging and mid-career artists with up to 240 square feet of creative space. Twenty-four-hour studio passes grant access to Redux’s darkroom, print studio, and woodshop. To encourage a sense of community, artists can participate in quarterly critiques, attend visiting-artist lectures, and debate their studio neighbors on artistic controversies such as whether Michelangelo’s David is as good as the earlier one he sculpted from Play-Doh.
The mixologists at ABC Bartending School divulge saloon secrets during certification-based and recreational bartending classes. During two-week certification courses, burgeoning bartenders mix classic and popular drinks while learning about alcohol laws, responsible liquor service, and stocking and inventory. Alternatively, an entertaining mixology course lets amateurs shake up drinks and take cover from projectile champagne corks behind an ornate bar with mirrors and gold trim. Once finished imparting their knowledge, the instructors set students up with ABC’s job-placement program, which puts certified graduates to work everywhere from restaurants and nightclubs to the zero-G sports bar where astronauts celebrate successful trips to the moon.
As a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, the Charleston RiverDogs aim to enchant fans with shapely curveballs and winning line drives. The club takes the field at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, where fans can take in views of the Ashley River as they watch the next crop of MLB stars sprout from the nutrient-rich soil stored within their cleats. Between innings, fans can snack on the Riley Park's concession stands' pickle dogs, brat cheesesteaks, and old-fashioned boiled peanuts—just some of the delicacies that have lured ballpark-cuisine fans from the Travel Channel to The Joe.
Carolina Nightlife is a guide to the region?s hottest clubs, restaurants, and bars. The party resource provides useful information as to which spots are the most popular on a given night, and they also include hours, directions, specials, and onsite photo albums so prospective attendees can check out the crowd. The page teems with recommendations on where to go and what to do, with activities that range from speed dating and live music to ping-pong tournaments and Victoria?s Secret Fashion Show viewings.