July 2010

Looking For An Excellent Adventure? Find It ON THE WATER

Author: Kate Hanzalik

Hilton Head Island is paradise, and opportunities for fun abound on our beaches and beyond. Think miniature golf, face painting, psychics, surf shops, bars, clubs, shopping centers, and movies. But why not make use of the immaculate water right at our doorsteps and try an out-of-the box adventure? Here’s an A-Z list of suggested activities on the water that are both family-friendly and fun:

ALLIGATOR WATCHING
Some say this charming pastime is dangerous, but if you want an adventure, here’s your chance. The gators around these parts are called Native Americans, and a handful of adventure companies will show you around, including H20 Sports. Up to 12 patrons can embark on a one-hour guided tour through the waters of Sea Pines Resort Forest Preserve. Just remember to keep your limbs onboard.

BEACHING IT
Hilton Head boasts five beaches with public access points: Coligny Beach, Folly Field, Burke’s Beach, Alder Lane, and Driessen Beach Park. Coligny ranks among the island’s best known because of its proximity to loads of shops and restaurants as well as free parking. Expect to find sparkling clean amenities and an impeccable new fountain that beckons children to play. Not in the mood for the Atlantic? Opt for Port Royal Sound. Fish Haul Creek Park and Mitchellville Beach Park on the sound aren’t manned by lifeguards, so they’re best for a peaceful stroll down the shoreline. For directions and more details, visit hhisleinfo.com/beaches.htm. And if building sandcastles becomes too stressful, beachcombing is a great way to enjoy the day.

CATAMARAN SAILING
Want to sail smoothly around the Calibogue Sound and Harbour Town with a big group of friends and family? Want to stroll around a wide deck instead of clutching the seat of a tipsy sailboat? Try a catamaran. Twice the size of a sailboat, these slow cruisers are what Jeanne Zailckas, a 22-year catamaran connoisseur and mate at Advanced Sail, Inc., calls the most “calm, peaceful, and relaxing” thing to do for people of all ages. “It is very family friendly, and I can honestly say that our captains are so much fun that people come back year after year.”

ENVIROTOURS / KAYAKING
Hilton Head Island is home to a bevy of naturalists who love talking up the island’s natural beauty. Boat with them along any of the Intracoastal waterways and learn about area ecology: bottleneck dolphins, sharks, coastal birds, mink, otter, the occasional sea turtle, salt marshes, oyster beds and more. Or get up-close and personal with nature on a kayak trip. Meander through hard-to-get-to places like tidal creeks and salt marshes. Oustide Hilton Head offers a variety of different adventures on the water, complete with experienced guides to ensure you take it all in!

KITE SURFING
Popular since the ’90s, kite surfing is a thrill for the rambunctious. Instead of being pulled by a boat, as you would during a more traditional water sport, you’re pulled by a powerful 12-meter kite. You can launch yourself out of the water and jump upwards of 30 feet. The kite is designed to create high and low pressure like an airplane wing, and as the wind blows over the wingtip of the kite, it creates lift and forward motion.

PARASAILING
Developed by Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne in 1961, parasails were originally designed for war; but now these speedboats or winchboats with a power take off and a corded parachute in tow, are ever so popular among everyday citizens who are looking for a low-grade, high-altitude thrill. Traveling 800 feet up in the air for around 10 minutes, parasailers can see 25 miles of land at a time. Want to go with friends? Up to three people can fly together at a time.

REMOTE ISLAND HOPPING
Troll down the Calibogue sound on a 19th century teak wood ship while listening to hilarious tales of days gone by and lesser-known odd historical facts about Hilton Head’s tiny surrounding islands. Native Wick Scurry and his crew from Calibogue Cruises will take you on an unforgettable journey, starting out at Broad Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island and landing at Freeport Marina on Daufuskie Island. Patrons can catch the sights at sea, such as the backsides of the lavish mansions lining the coast.

STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING
This sport is the closest you’ll get to Hawaii on Hilton Head Island. Designed by Hawaiian surfers, paddle boards are considered very floaty long boards. Beginners learn on land, then take to the sea with an instructor, paddling around on their knees. Once you’re able to stand up, it’s like you’re careening on water. Brooke McCullough, owner and operator of H20 Sports in Harbour Town, touts the sports simplicity and thrill. “The longer you’re on it, the more core workout you get for upper body strength. It is one of the fastest growing water sports in America, and [patrons] range six year olds to seventy year olds.” H20 Sports and Outside hilton Head both offer lessons, or paddle board rentals.

STUNT KITE FLYING
Take advantage of the salty summer breeze on all Hilton Head Island shores, and learn how to maneuver the stunt kite’s dual lines so that it dips and dives in all sorts of crazy directions. Careful, because they can crash and potentially harm others, so there is a beach ordinance in effect until September 30. Fly before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Novices might want to opt for the more self-explanatory single line or sport kites.

SHARK FISHING
Inshore and offshore fishing during the summer means shark fishing. From May to the end of September, five kinds are out in full force, all on a voracious hunt for their menhaden bait. Expect to see reef sharks, black tip sharks, bull sharks, lemon sharks, hammerhead sharks, and dusky sharks, says angling expert Captain David Fleming, owner of Mighty Mako Sport Fishing. “I’ve had a lot of hooks put in me, but I’ve never had any teeth marks in me,” he said. “My advice would be treat every shark, no matter how large, or especially how small, with proper respect, because even the small ones can put a hurting on you.” Fleming calls these big fins “a dime a dozen,” and they like to hang out in the following locations: “Mouths, ledges, estuaries, anywhere along the Calibogue Sound and into the rivers and back water estuaries.” And they’re everywhere along the beaches, he says. They swim within just four feet of water, but not to worry. “Whenever they see a swimmer’s leg or arm they are pretty much scared to death, so they go on. They are looking for small bait fish. If a human being comes at them, they will just make tracks and get away from them.” Please note that you can fish inshore this time of year— Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, jack crevalle, lady fish, tarpon. And offshore fishing around here means catching big game fish 45 to 50 miles off shore.

WAVERUNNERS
False: Jet Skis are über-popular!
Fact: They don’t make jet skis anymore, but waverunners are all the rage. Back in the day, muscle-clad folk rode jet skis solo, standing up. But times have changed with the latest, greatest sit down/squat waverunners. You can go single, double or even with three people on a wave runner. And you don’t have to have any physical abilities to ride them.

Waverunners come equipped with a lanyard that you wear around your wrist or attach to your life jacket, so if you fall off, it will shut down automatically. But the law’s the law, and in South Carolina, only those who are 18 years or older can operate one alone. If you’re under 18, you just have to have someone onboard who is that age.

THE CLASSICS
(Tubing, Water Skiing, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Kneeboarding/Hydrosliding)
Did someone say tubing? Who doesn’t love latching on to a wide inner tube, floating along the waves, getting pulled around fast and furiously by a high-powered speed boat? Teams of up to four can go at a single time. But hang on tight; arm strength is required.

H20 Sports calls the sailing experience “exhilaration,” especially when it’s done on the SUMO, a 38-foot trimaran that will “slice through the water as fast as the wind and take you on an experience unlike any other.” A plethora of local companies offer sailing excursions, boat rentals and lessons, during the day or at sunset.

Another popular water sport, wakeboarding, has been around for the last 15 years. Similar to skiing, it is a stand-up water sport, but instead of standing on skis, the experience is more like snowboarding on the water. You’re bound to the board and the odds of staying up are pretty high.

The degree of difficulty for water skiing is subjective, but most water sport pros around town believe that good instructions and equipment will get you up on the water in no time. Company sessions usually last around two hours.

If you want to rock the water on your knees, then try hydrosliding or kneeboarding. Knees are strapped onto the board and you ride back and forth on the wake.

Whatever you decide to do on the water this summer, just do it up. As Abraham Lincoln said during his cameo in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!” Spoken like a true gentleman of leisure.

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