The midday sun beats down on the hat-clad heads of the passengers, but they barely feel the heat. The rapt crowd has gathered on the top deck of the Holiday, their eyes collectively glued to the waters below them where a glossy fin emerged and disappeared a second ago. The onlookers’ silence suddenly dissolves into a symphony of awed whispers and camera clicks as a trio of playful bottlenose dolphins breaks through the water and splashes about near the ship. Creating moments such as this between humans and nature has been Captain Mark's Dolphin Watch Cruise’s mission since setting sail on its inaugural excursion in 1983.
Based out of Shelter Cove Harbour, Captain Mark's Dolphin Watch Cruise's experienced crew introduces visitors to area wildlife via two varieties of aquatic adventures. Daytime and sunset dolphin watch nature cruises glide past numerous scenic points of interest including Wexford Plantation, marine creatures, oyster beds, and oyster laundry piles. Alternatively, Let’s Go Crabbing trips ferry kids and adults away aboard the Crabber J II for a lively session of crustacean catching.
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.
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.
Established in 1980, Legendary Golf sends families and friends around a trio of peaceful courses at two locations: 900 William Hilton and 80 Pope Avenue. Despite having different addresses and varying levels of difficulty, all three courses share something important: beautiful design. They feature water hazards, dog legs, and elevation changes, and on the more challenging stretches, even some par-4 and par-5 holes.
Gentle waves lap at the shores of Hilton Head Island, growing in size and strength a bit further out. Here, you'll find surfers of all skill levels paddling out to hang ten or simply practice standing up. And there's a good chance they rented their boards from Go Surf Hilton Head. There's even a good chance they're in the midst of a lesson conducted by one of the company's instructors.