With their fleet of Robinson R22 utility helicopters, the aviators at Charleston Helicopters take joy in breaking the laws of gravity. They whisk passengers high above Charleston for flight lessons and photo tours, and while passing over the harbor, guests can snap shots of the Battery, Shem Creek, and various forts. Viewers may also zoom over the Charleston skyline to admire buildings soaked in red-and-orange sunsets and the flickering lights of surrounding towns. Many of Charleston Helicopters's tours invite guests to toast airborne triumphs upon landing with champagne, instilling an extra sense of victory without having to drag race passing geese.
Captain Jason Jenkins knows some of the best fishing spots in Charleston—not only has he sailed the waters his entire life, but his dad was a marine biologist, giving him scientific insight into the local species. His trips, which are all-inclusive, troll the area channels for some of his favorite catches, which include species such as sharks, huge red, tarpon, black sea bass, and spadefish. He also leads special low-tide charters that hunt for shells, teeth, and fossils, as well as dolphin-watching tours and tours of Charleston Harbor. A US Coast Guard–certified charter captain, Captain Jason is also trained in first aid and CPR and is a certified first responder.
The knowledgeable guides of Charleston Culinary Tours and Lowcountry Walking Tours acquaint tour-goers with the rich cultural and historical heritage of the largest historic district in the United States through two distinct branches. Lowcountry Walking Tours's guides delve into the histories and mysteries of Charleston, revealing its both dark and romantic origins. Their excursions venture downtown or out to Mount Pleasant, each exploring the events that shaped the region with an emphasis on the areas toured. They often meander the streets of the French Quarter as guides opine on the historic churches, horticulture, and reason why the city had to change its name from Tokyo to Charleston.
Charleston Culinary Tours introduce groups to the area through their taste buds. Each restaurant tour journeys to four acclaimed restaurants, granting a bounty of food tastings alongside a meet-and-greet with restaurant owners and chefs. On the farmer's market tour, groups explore the farm-fresh finds of a market named one of the nation's best by Travel + Leisure, then venture to an area restaurant where they can savor the newly picked produce within a gourmet meal. The farm-to-table theme continues on the mixology tour, where participants sip specialty cocktails infused with fresh herbs and produce as the learn about the secrets to Charleston's craft cocktail scene.
The guides at Free Tours by Foot offer their expertise to visitors on free group tours for a simple reason: they love to share their city's history and quirks with others—and if they get a tip from thoroughly entertained tour-goers, all the better. They've curated a handful of tours for about nine cities, including a roundup of public art in New York City's subway system, a colonial jaunt featuring Revolutionary War sites in Boston, and visits to architectural feats in Chicago's Loop and the hospital where the first Chicago-style hot dog was born. Tour guides can also be commissioned for private, fixed-price tours of the same spots.
Paul Mitchell plied American and European waters for over thirty years, nestling ships into such ports as Bermuda, Gibraltar, and Spain. Now, as a US Coast Guard-certified captain, he puts his expertise to work showing of the 20-miles of waters and hundreds of years of history in Charleston Harbor. He leads sunset tours to soak up the waning light and sea breezes, as well as historical cruises narrated by local history buff Paul Hedden. He also plans longer voyages, taking passengers by sea up the coast of South Carolina on trips that may offer glimpses of wildlife to passengers.
For more than 50 years, Spiritline Cruises’ impressive fleet of yachts has transported passengers through the calm and scenic waters that surround Charleston. Vessels sail across Charleston Harbor and past the Battery during harbor cruises, whereas historic Fort Sumter treks explore the place where the Civil War began and the practice of building forts out of pillows ended. Spiritline Cruises also explores the city at night, with visitors enjoying dinnertime meals on the Spirit of Carolina against a backdrop of twinkling city lights. The ships can also be privately chartered for weddings or special events for groups of up to 300.
Captain Howard, the man at the helm of Adventure Harbor Tours, has an inherent attraction to the water. The second he steps out onto his boat he finds less dread, more excitement, and a desire to share this joy with others. As the voices of Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley sing from his boat's onboard stereo, Captain Howard ferries groups of up to 12 out into Charleston Harbor, where Atlantic bottlenose dolphins swim beneath the surface and one lonely scuba diver guards the harbor's flush valve. The captain's expeditions can take the form of private charters, fishing charters, or his most popular trip: a tour of Morris Island.
Untouched by cars or roads, Morris Island welcomes visitors onto secluded beaches filled with shells, sand dollars, and conchs. The 4-mile barrier island allows ample room for visitors to pick these shells, play in the sand, or run alongside their dogs—which Captain Howard welcomes onto his tours.