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.
For more than a century, visitors of the Gribble House have found themselves unexplainably locked in rooms, witnesses to recurring spot fires and recurring visions of a "Woman in White" and a "Shadow Man." With the help of a trained crew, daring individuals spend two hours exploring the warehouse’s secrets—which seem to stem from an infamous triple murder in the early 1900s—with technology such as EMF recorders and laser grids.
Anne Middleton Herron can trace her family's time in Charleston back 13 generations. In some ways, the city is like a family member itself, but fortunately for everyone else, she's more than willing to share its secrets through Colonial Walking Tours' history-filled excursions. On each two-hour tour, she leads groups through the walled city's historic streets, ambling past picturesque 300-year-old buildings that were really designed to impress time travelers. As they walk, she traces local history from colonial times to the present day with stories of political intrigue, bloody conflicts, triumphs, and the real people who made them possible. For a personal touch, she also discusses memories from her own childhood, and ends each tour in the private garden of her family home.
Colonial Walking Tours also explores the city's darker side with Ghost Hunt tours. By the flickering light of a candle-filled lantern, other experienced guides lead visitors through nighttime streets to locations such as the Provost Dungeon and St. Philip's Graveyard. There, they relate tales of untimely deaths tied to murders, suicides, duels, and executions, as well as voodoo curses that doomed many to spend eternity searching for their house keys.
Alfred Ray enthusiasm for Charleston's history is infectious. This passion carried him through the rough-going early days of his tour-guiding career, which started in 1980, he says, “with a pitchfork atop a pile of hose dung in a carriage barn on State Street.” Today, the Charleston native—whose forefathers arrived in the city in 1792—shares his deep knowledge during three themed tours through Charleston's walled landscape: the Old Walled City Walk, the Home and Garden Walk, and the Slavery and Freedom Walk.
Tours casually wind down the city's cobblestone streets, past precolonial and postcolonial buildings that display a confluence of architectural styles, from Georgian to Greek Revival. As tourists snap pictures of wrought-iron gates, classical columns, and carbonite-encased cotton gins, Ray shares stories about the people and events—such as the approximately 40% of slaves who entered the United States through Charleston—that transformed a 1670 pioneer settlement into a cultural hub of the South by the mid-1800s.
Cocaptains Chip Deaton and Scott Connelly anchored their individual childhood experiences on the water to their passion for aquatic surfaces when they founded Charleston Water Taxi. Here, the duo helms two types of vessels to whisk passengers around Charleston's pristine waterways, navigating through their harbor route. Aboard the intimate boats, riders glimpse some of the city's most eye-plucking sights, such as the Civil War–era Castle Pinckney and the newly constructed Cooper River Bridge—a popular haunt for dolphins who frolic about or shout at humans to speak dolphin when they’re on the sea.
Charlestowne Pub Stroll's knowledgeable guides cover nearly 300 years of history during their three-hour walking tours, shedding light on the city's libation-steeped past. Guide dressed in full pirate or colonial regalia lead guests along Meeting Street, Broad Street, and throughout the Charleston historic district as they point out the area’s most historically significant pubs. They regale guests with tales of Prohibition-era criminals, early drinking habits, and other historical oddities, including that time when drinking a full gallon of milk was temporarily outlawed in Charleston in the 1900s. Throughout the tour, groups will stop into select watering holes to sample the storied brews for themselves at an extra cost.