Kayak to Otter Islands

Otter Island - Search Nearby - Added by Seth Berry

Experienced kayak enthusiast will love this challenge of paddling to your own secluded beach island in the famous ACE Basin of South Carolina! Be sure to plan wisely!

If you're looking for your own personal kayak adventure to do without a tour guide, this is the trip for you...as long as you plan wisely!

Where the South Edisto river spills into the Atlantic off the coast of Edisto Beach, South Carolina, there is a pair of secluded and protected islands in the ACE basin inlet. The main island is called Otter Island. When standing on the sound side of Edisto Beach, you can look out and see what looks like one long beach on an island, which actually is two islands in the distance.

There are various ways of planning your trip out to Otter Island's shore, but I'll give you details of what I did on my trip. The best advice is to pick a day that have very little wind and make sure you understand the tide patterns. I recommend downloading the "Tides Near Me" app to determine the tides for Edisto Beach during your stay.

For me, I decided to start paddling out to island about 2 hours before low tide. There is a public boat ramp at the Edisto Marina by Pressley's Restaurant where I put in my kayak to begin my trip. Here you will paddle out to your left out the Big Bay Creek towards the big water. Keep your eye out as you will be paddling with dolphins!

Once you come out of the Big Bay Creek you will see Edisto Beach to your left and out directly in front of your view will be the shores of Pine Island across the South Edisto Inlet. Look further out the horizon towards the left of the shores of Pine Island and you'll see more beaches off in the far distance. You will be aiming toward those as that is Otter Island behind Pine Island.

Kayaking across the inlet can be challenging with the currents and the waves, but keep a steady rhythm and continue to focus on your goal. If you are going right before low tide like I did, do not be fooled when you are coming up on what looks to be beach. You will be passing through at least 3 sandbars. You could either continue to kayak left towards the ocean to go completely around the sandbars, or if you have a smaller kayak like me, you can pick up your boat and walk across the sandbars. Some parts of the trip will be extremely shallow and you can get out and drag your boat. Be careful as you will see stingrays and horseshoe crabs in the shallow waters.

Eventually you will be seeing the marshes of the islands on one side and the white beaches on the other side. You can follow the stream  that divides the two islands called Jefford Creek. This will allow you to ride the current coming into the island to where you can finally dock on the shores of Otter Island where ever you desire.

Once there get out and take sometime to enjoy the secluded beauty of this island in the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. You can find shells, old drift wood, wildlife, and even .50 caliber bullets half-buried from fighters during World War II who used the island  as a strafing range. Take time to refuel on water and energy food as you'll need it for your paddle back. Some people will even bring overnight equipment as you can also camp on the island as long as you received a permit. But be sure to start heading back across the inlet before the tide starts getting too rough as it turns to high tide.

Paddling back after the peak of low tide will allow you to start riding the current as it's pushing inland for high tide. Be careful though as the water is starting to cover the sandbars making rough waves. Paddling across the inlet can become fairly rough too but keep a good rhythm and continue to focus on Edisto Beach towards the Big Bay Creek inlet. Be on the lookout for boats coming in and also more dolphins.

This was a very rewarding kayaking trip for me as it was both a challenge and a great photography trip. It was also a full body workout for me as not only did I paddle for about 3 hours, I also had to get out and carry my kayak several times to get across sandbars. As long as you plan your trip and are in for a challenge, you will enjoy the adventure as well!

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Kayaking
Swimming
Beach
River
Scenic
Wildlife

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