Best Places To Kayak On Hilton Head


Wondering where to kayak on Hilton Head Island? Luckily, you have some truly exceptional opinions for kayaking here on the South Carolina Coast, and our kayaking guides are here to show you around the best spots. 

Whether you want to see dolphins, go kayak fishing or simply explore some beautiful scenery, these are the best places to kayak on Hilton Head.

Image From Island Explorer Facebook Page

Broad Creek Estuary

Our top spot for Hilton Head kayak tours is Broad Creek. Although it is referred to as a creek, it’s really more like a broad tidal estuary, which begins in the heart of Hilton Head Island and runs roughly parallel into the Atlantic Ocean, ultimately flowing into the ocean through Calibogue Sound. 

Numerous marshes and streams feed Broad Creek, which stretches about seven miles in total length. It’s Hilton Head’s largest creek, and arguably the best and most popular place to kayak on the island. There are several good reasons for that.

First and foremost, it’s simply a beautiful place. With tranquil waters surrounded by waving salt marsh grasses and tall trees, it offers some of the best scenery on Hilton Head. Broad Creek also supports a variety of wildlife, and it’s common to see wading birds like heron, ibis and egret hunting for their next meal in its shallows. 

Speaking of wildlife, the main reason many people love Broad Creek is simple: dolphins! In addition to migratory dolphins that stop by for part of the season, the Broad Creek Estuary has its own year-round resident dolphin population. We see them all the time on our kayak tours (some even have names!) which makes Broad Creek one of the best places to see dolphins on Hilton Head. 

Another great thing about Broad Creek is that it’s safe and sheltered from the wind. While the wide-open waters of Calibogue Sound can get choppy, the quiet channels of Broad Creek are protected from most rough weather. 

Hilton Head kayak tours depart right from the banks of Broad Creek, and the estuary is also convenient to all of Hilton Head’s great shopping and dining options. 

Image From Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge Facebook Page

Pinckney Island

Pinckney Island is the island that lies between Hilton Head and the mainland, and it offers some of the most spectacular Lowcountry kayaking. Although it’s close to the mainland—if you drive to Hilton Head, you’ll see Pinckney Island as you cross the US-278 bridge—it’s a little more remote from where most Hilton Head kayak tours depart from. 

That makes it a little bit of a farther paddle, and Pinckney Island kayak tours are usually longer than those that explore Broad Creek. But for experienced kayakers looking for an adventure, it’s a great option. 

Largely protected by Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, the island includes miles of channels bordered by pristine salt marshes. Wildlife is abundant, making it an excellent place for bird watching and kayak fishing. Minks and otters may occasionally be seen, and it’s not unusual to spot bottlenose dolphins feeding along the shorelines. 

Fall is a great time to take a kayak tour of Pinckney Island, partly because the scenery and weather are outstanding this time of year, but also because your kayaking trip is less likely to be disrupted by a summer storm. During summer, we usually recommend kayaking somewhere more sheltered and with a shorter out-and-back distance, just in case the weather turns.

Image from Google Map Photos

Jarvis Creek

A smaller creek that flows toward the northwest corner of Hilton head Island, Jarvis Creek is a great option if you’re looking for a kayaking spot that’s good for beginners. Because of its small size, it gets much less traffic. And because there are no major marinas on Jarvis Creek, you’re most likely to encounter other kayaks and small fishing boats rather than larger craft. 

But Jarvis Creek also offers great scenery, calm waters and a great kayak experience. It’s protected from the wind and waves, and also has numerous tidal channels and streams through the salt marsh that are ripe for exploration. 

Image from Daufuskie Island Facebook Page

Daufuskie Island

For experienced kayakers, the trip to Daufuskie Island from Hilton Head Island can be quite an adventure. Daufuskie Island is located across Calibogue Sound from Hilton Head, which means you have to watch out for larger boats and strong currents on your way there!

But it’s a great place to paddle. Though it’s a long journey, it’s possible to fully circle the island, from its charming and more developed east side to its wild, marshy west side near the mouth of the Cooper River. 


The area around Daufuskie Island is known for excellent inshore fishing, especially for striped bass and redfish. Be sure to pack sunscreen and plenty of water, and keep an eye out for landmarks like the historic Haig Point Lighthouse.