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Water Sports

Water, Water Everywhere And All These Things To Do!

Lounge on the beach. Swim in the surf. Work on your tan. When you're visiting Hilton Head, the beaches are always wide open for your enjoyment. And if you want more excitement than a beach chair provides, rent a wave runner by the hour and experience the thrill of motorcycling on water. Or, for those who would rise above it all, try parasailing – a soaring adventure that's sure to be the high time of your visit. Call Sky Pirate Parasial at 843-842-2566 or H2 Water Sports at 877-290-4386, and you'll command a bird's eye view of the island from your parachute, towed by a speedboat below! Cowabunga!

Boating and Floating, Your Way

Captain your own craft, or rent one for the day. While at the helm, plot your course for the scenic and secluded inland waterways or the bounding main offshore. Pull out a pole and catch your dinner! Find a glassy stretch on the Sound, get out the water skis and have fun with the kids. Or, hoist the spinnaker and let the sunset winds pull you back to port.

If you'd rather spare the skipper's hat, let someone else guide you through the waters off Hilton Head. From dinner cruises to dolphin watching, there are plenty of activities to fill your day.

And if you find light exercise and eco-touring an appealing combination, take a guided kayak trip along Lowcountry tidal creeks. Enjoy the pace and peace of nature and its creatures. It's a serenity that comes from paddling your own way.

Two of the largest marinas are:
Harbour Town Yacht Basin (843) 671-4534
Shelter Cove Marina (843) 842-7002

Both offer a variety of charters including inshore and offshore trips. Please call in advance for scheduling and rates.

Fishing Around Hilton Head Island

Starting July 1, 2009, fishing licenses are required for saltwater and freshwater fishing. This includes those who want to cast a line in any of the Island's lakes, lagoons and ponds or surf cast from the beach (outside of the swimming area). The following is a list of license prices that can be obtained at any SC Walmart, Harbourtown Yacht Basin or Low Country Outfitters or by calling the SC Department of Natural Resources at 1.866.714.3611:

Visitors 14-day License: $11
Annual Visitors License: $35
Resident 14-day License: $5
Annual Resident License: $10

Here is a guide to help you make the right choice for a Hilton Head charter fishing adventure to remember:

Inshore Catches

Species inshore include red drum, sea trout, flounder, sheepshead and shark. Most fishing is done by anchoring in the sounds, rivers and creeks and casting live shrimp or artificials with light spinning tackle. Most trips are limited to boats under 22 feet and therefore accommodate from two to four passengers per boat.

Inshore Fly Fishing

The most sought-after species for fly anglers is the red drum or redfish, but Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks and on occasional cobia are taken on the fly. Most fly fishing trips are limited to two anglers.


Nearshore fishing includes the beach, surrounding sandbars and artificial reefs just a few miles offshore. Fish that are hooked nearshore include Spanish mackerel, small bluefish, flounder, jack crevalle, ladyfish,black drum, red drum, sheepshead, cobia, tarpon, king mackerel, blacktip shark and lemon shark. Most of the larger 6-passenger boats as well as smaller boats that carry 3 to 4 anglers can easily fish nearshore waters on a half-day charter.


Offshore fishing usually involves the ship channels and artificial reefs from twelve to twenty miles offshore. Techniques of charter vessels include trolling with rigged baits, artificials, and slow trolling with live baits. King mackerel are the most sought-after gamefish, with amberjack, barracuda, cobia, little tuna, and Spanish mackerel adding to the sport of the chase. Six to eight-hour trips should be expected for fishing offshore because traveling time to and from the fishing grounds can be from 1 1/2 to three hours.

Offshore Bottom Fishing or Driftfishing

Several reefs offshore are approached for drift fishing. Black sea bass, small snapper, grouper, spadefish,sharks and king mackerel are the most common species near the reefs. Most of the marinas offer party boat or “headboat” fishing for individuals or groups. As with all other charters, bait and tackle is included in the price of the trip. Most drift fishing trips are from six to eight hours, so remember to pack a lunch and take plenty of sunscreen.

Snapper Banks

Snapper and grouper fishing is excellent off South Carolina, especially in late summer and autumn. Many of the grouper caught at Snapper Banks weigh from 20 to 30 pounds. Most of this fishing takes place 30 to 50 miles offshore, so 8 to 10 hour trips are involved.

Gulf Stream

Gulf Stream fishing is best off South Carolina from the mid-May through September. Blue and white marlin, sailfish, wahoo, dolphin and tuna are caught by trolling rigged baits and artificials. The Gulf Stream is about 70 miles offshore. Therefore, it's best to book a 14-hour or an overnight charter. Whether you decide to fish inshore, nearshore, or offshore contact the captain personally and discuss the type of fishing offered.

If you have small children or a handicapped passenger, make sure that you bring this up beforehand so that the necessary preparations can be made by captain and crew. Ask the captain if the tide or wind conditions will affect the fishing, and if fish are cleaned by the captain or crew, it is appropriate to tip them for this service.

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