Helmed by water-sports enthusiast Neil Turner, the staff of Sea Monkey Watersports outfits and guides explorers through the aquatic arteries of Hilton Head Island and the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. After a quick tutorial, thrill-seekers take to the waterways atop a Yamaha WaveRunner, which reaching up to 50 miles per hour, while keeping an eye out for local shorebirds and dolphins looking to drag race. Paddlers enjoy a more slow-paced journey piloting single or double kayaks as they traveling on guided nature expeditions or self-led tours of the surrounding waters.
Live Oac ferries dolphin-spotters along the winding waterways of Skull Creek and Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge via a range of eco-tours set against the scenic backdrop of the low country’s natural flora and fauna. With space for up to six sea-salt passengers, cruise in comfort on the hurricane deck boat during your one-hour private dolphin tour and nature cruise led by an experienced naturalist and U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captain. Swoon as herons and osprey warm up crowds before Atlantic bottlenose dolphins grace the sea stage with their adorable smiling snouts and off-the-cuff magic tricks. Heavily populated tour routes can afford viewers multiple dolphin sightings during each tour as well as prime seating for bottlenose bottleneck traffic altercations.
While tutoring students in the art of kiteboarding, Mike Campanaro and John Mapel of AOK Watersports are able to call upon a lifetime of wave-taming experience in a bounty of extreme sports, including power-kiting and windsurfing. Though the dedicated instructors specialize in kiteboarding, they also offer equipment, lessons, and rentals for activities such as land-kiting and paddleboarding. Two-hour land-kiting courses help beginners glean basics for handling kites or taking midnight shifts as bird walkers.
International flavors and 17 vibrant cocktails color 9 Promenade's creative menu of gourmet tapas, pizzas, and salads. Chefs dexterously craft bite-size plates under high-powered microscopes, braising chorizo in red wine ($8) and coupling slivers of blackened ahi tuna with a made-to-order version of tartare drizzled in cilantro-soy sauce ($12). The Rock Lobster ($9), a martini blended from whiskey, black-raspberry liqueur, and cranberry juice, blushes against the bar's gray walls like an embarrassed bride, and listless stomachs perk up with the Breakfast salad ($9), a bed of spinach piled to the leafy heavens with bacon, garlic toast, and an over-easy egg. The restaurant's doughsmiths also engineer a selection of gourmet pizzas ($12–$15) mounded with eclectic toppings such as tequila-marinated tomatoes, crab, and shaved steak.
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.