Thank You (Bulls Island Overnight Trip)
I'd like to express my appreciation of Papa Mo, whose cooking and easy way with visitors were a delight.
-The breadth and depth of their knowledge of the flora and fauna, and their ability to share it in bite-sized chunks
-Their skills in "managing" the group - keeping us on time, handling all the different personalities and interests, all while maintaining a relaxed and warm
I've been on several Road Scholar trips (Scotland, NZ, Australia, Panama, Costa Rica) and am not surprised that Coastal Expeditions does a tour for them, if Gates and Olivia are representative of the quality of your staff. I couldn't have asked for any better - except, perhaps, the opportunity to do it all again, soon!
They also mentioned, without pushing, the other trips that you offer and I expect they planted a few seeds.
So thanks to everyone who made it a wonderful experience from start to finish (not omitting the office staff and website managers who made the "user interface" easy, too). I'll be back, somehow, somewhen.
March 2016, Email
Fantastic Advice and Service for Father-Daughter Camping Trip
A friend and I took our 10 year old daughters on a last minute one night camping trip to Caper's Island. The staff at Coastal Expeditions gave us great advice on everything including how the weather would affect us (still chilly in March), camp site, where to go and what to avoid on the island and where to eat lunch back on mainland on way home. Great boat rides out to and back from Caper's with wildlife viewing and entertaining, informative, fantastic guide Gates who texted us late on Sat night to make sure we were doing ok with our kids. Can't wait to go back for a longer trip there or somewhere else with Coastal Expeditions.
July 2015, TripAdvisor Review
Welcome to the Lowcountry
This South Carolina kayaking trip was thoroughly enjoyable on so many levels: 1) It was a great introduction to the Southeastern low country. Paddling down the Santee River and into the ocean gave me a perspective and appreciation for this widely ranged and beautiful ecosystem that I would never have experienced otherwise. We saw a wonderful variety of birds and plants during the trip. Sadly, only one dolphin sighting, which was when we disembarked in McClellanville (apparently, the other dolphins didn't get the memo). 2) It was a great eclectic mix of people from different backgrounds but with similar interests. We had so much fun! I especially enjoyed our morning yoga stretches and a clam-digging expedition. 3) It vastly improved my paddling skills. As a novice kayaker, I was a little apprehensive about signing up for this trip; however, with some expert advice from Gates and Rachel (our guides), my husband and I were able to keep up with the more experienced kayakers in the group.
Our guides, Rachel and Gates, were knowledgeable, friendly, and very capable of handling situations as they arose. They gave us a wonderful background history and nature tour of each region traveled – it was every bit as enjoyable as the kayaking itself! Plus, Rachel prepared consistently good meals for us every day. I can easily say that they both made this outing a great success by enthusiastically imparting their love of the land to us all.
If you plan to take this trip, be sure to contact the guides before packing. I noticed Rachel and Gates wore lightweight long-sleeved camp shirts and hiking pants every day. Neither of them wore shorts or short-sleeved shirts. I didn't see them wearing open toe sandals, either. Moreover, they both wore hats. I recommend a broad-brimmed hat to prevent sunburn on ears, face, and neck. Don't be stingy with the sunblock – the South Carolina sun is fierce!
If you are not acquainted with the South, be aware that it is the cradle of mosquito (and other biting insect) civilization. Insect repellent is a must. I personally prefer brands that offer 30% DEET; however, there are non-DEET alternatives on the market as well.
One other piece of advice: you will be sitting in a minimally padded kayak for hours each day. I purchased a gel-filled paddling cushion and didn't experience any pain or numbness. Do your butt a favor and invest in a paddling cushion.
The Best Four Days
This trip was a wonderful, and restorative experience. I was sad to come home and would have been happy to extend the trip to 7 days instead of four. It was so cool to start out paddling and camping in the swamp and watch the ecosystems change as we made our way down the Santee River and out to the sea. I loved learning about all the plants, birds, and insects we saw along the way as well as about South Carolina history and geography. One of the highlights was paddling up to an old plantation in the middle of what seemed like nowhere and getting to each lunch on the large porch overlooking the grounds. The plantation tour guide, Corey, was fabulous. The guides were absolutely top notch. They were great company, fantastic cooks, funny and helpful, patient and knowledgeable. I would be excited for the chance to travel with them again. And I would not hesitate to go on another adventure.
I Didn’t Want It To End
I don't think I have a bad thing to say about this trip. We were welcomed and cared for from the minute we stepped foot on the outfitter's property. Our guide was OUTSTANDING. He knew everything from the areas rich and sometimes sad history to it's natural flora and fauna. He presented this information to us in such a way that you felt how much he loved this land and its inhabitants. He was part of the story too. I'm such a nature head that I was in heaven and could have been easily pleased in that department anyway. The accommodations were good. We had bonfires each night. Another guide cooked meals and provided additional critter knowledge. We swam, giggled, hiked, giggled, kayaked and giggled. Experience of a lifetime. SF.
Capers Island Kayaking
The guides Rachael and Geoff were excellent. They were very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. We had a great group of people and the location was scenic and remote.
Just What I Needed!
Dolphins, Alligators. Our guide playing guitar each morning to wake us for the sunrise. Yoga stretching on the beach. Played hard during the day and enjoyed great company and food at night. Guides (Rachel and Eric) were educational, entertaining and enthusiastic. A great experience at a decent cost.
The Trip Leaders Made This Trip
The trip leaders were superior--they made the trip. There was a lot of walking from take out to camp site (amout 1 mile, one way) which was difficult for one of us, The paddling was challenging which we liked, and information about the estuary ecosystem was good. The steamed oysters and clams gathered on the trip were the best we have ever tasted,
A Perfect Trip
We had never kayaked in the Low Country and wanted to get up close and personal with that environment and be active as well. Great kayaking at low and high tides, beautiful full moon, birds, seafood, alligators, great guides, good food, activity and kick-back time balance. What's not to like!?
Just about everything was a highlight. Where do I start? Migrating butterflies, dolphins doing flips, food, birds, the kayaking, eagles, guides. Can't say enough positives about this experience.
Relaxing Yet Active Trip
Some of the other great things about our trip was that everyone got along so well. We all bonded immediately, and as a single traveler it made the experience so much more fun. My only two complaints would be that one, there was a lot of good food. However, they fed us so often that I felt too stuffed the whole time. The other complaint was that I really enjoyed all the activity, but I do wish we had longer days of activity. Then again that just may be me. The positives not mentioned are Rachel and Henry (our guides) were so amazing! They were very knowledgable and were a lot of fun to joke around with. The scenery was beautiful. This is an amazing trip!
Paddling, Nature and S’mores
Due to wind and rain on our first day, the itinerary changed and we paddled and camped in the National Forest, which was amazing. Eric and Geoff made a great team and made it seem a planned part of the trip. Both are well-informed in local nature and culture Geoff was always ahead of us, cooking, setting up camp. We would pull in off the water and there was Geoff waiting with lunch! Eric was a fun and educational guide on the water. Both have a passion for what they do that is contagious.
I especially enjoyed the variety of water that we paddled in - tidal creeks, a blackwater creek, and ocean/bay. This also meant seeing a wider variety of wildlife.
As with any group outing, the attitudes of one's companions is important. We had wonderful people of all ages and backgrounds, but with a true sense of adventure in common.
Loggerheads, Dolphins and Egrets, oh my!
Our guides, Eric and Geoff constantly demonstrated their dedication to making our experience a great one. Rain on our first day meant a change in itinerary that they handled incredibly well and meant we got to paddle in a blackwater creek and learn about the rice plantation history of the area. It was clear that they possessed a deep knowledge of the area-it's history, culture. and ecology. I came away with an appreciation of the coastal Carolina s and its vast protected natural areas and diversity of plant and animal species.
Awesome in Every Way!
This trip was the best kayak adventure I've been on (I've been on three other multi-day trips in the past 4 years). The paddling is a solid moderate level; a novice may be able to do it, but it'd be better to have some experience to fully enjoy the trip. Camping is on the beach, and bathing in the ocean- lots of sand!. It's a full vacation experience: waking up to spectacular sunrise and going to sleep under a blanket of stars, with a variety of activities to enjoy during the day (rest time too). I absolutely loved the other folks, and was impressed with how far some people travelled to experience the beauty of Caper's Island and the SC coast. Thanks to Gates, Eric and Rachel who answered every question and even detailed our boats so we were pampered. Wow. I'll be diong this trip again.
The guides, Gates, Eric and Rachael were truly amazing. They all worked so hard to make our days easier. They made the group feel like we knew each other for years. They also made sure they spent individual time with each camper. It doesn't matter how much experience you have kayaking just go and enjoy.
This trip was truly a wonderful experience in so many ways. Everything was very well planned and laid out, which made it easy. There was a good balance of activity and challenges with relaxation. As a solo traveler I was worried about how the group dynamic would work, but the layout of the trip was such that I never felt isolated, but still had sufficient alone time. I came to the trip not knowing anything about kayaking, but that was not a problem. Also, the locations were all extraordinarily beautiful and I learned a lot about the environment.
The guides, Eric and Gates, were very knowledgeable, helpful, and just generally fun. They did a lot of work, managing the camp and preparing delicious meals, but still spent time socializing with the group.
AND you can't beat falling asleep to the lull of the Atlantic Ocean and being woken up with guitar music to watch the sunrise.
Go Before the Word Gets Out
The trip was meticulously planned... the guides (Eric and Wick) had boated out the heavy equipment to Capers Island where we were staying, so we only had to carry personal equipment in the kayaks. It also meant they were equipped with coolers creating very high-end primitive camping meals and even a latrine. We had a small group and the guides changed up the itinerary a little to allow us to do more, and when we got tired we were given some more time for R&R... The guides were really knowledgeable and very professional; 100% dedicated to ensuring that we had a great time. The trip itself was spectacular - scenery, wildlife, camping, picking oysters from the seabed, kayaking into the sunset... I'm very surprised that so few people have discovered this place.
Wonderful Experience, Highly Recommend
The weather was not ideal (cold, rain, high tides, etc). Even though we had some pretty rough weather, I still had the BEST time!
I can't stress enough how much our guides made the trip a success! This trip would not have been the same without them. Eric and Gates took care of every detail and worked hard behind the scenes to make sure we were well fed, comfortable, safe, informed, educated and happy. I could pick up anything on the beach or point to any creature/plant and Gates could give me information about it. Eric woke us up every morning playing the guitar and on the morning that it was pouring rain, he brought us breakfast in our tents so we didn't have to go out in the rain!
Their personalities, commitment to the environment, outdoor activities and the success of this trip really stood out! They took care of the necessities and allowed me to experience the journey.
The group camaraderie also made this trip over-the-top enjoyable. I felt like I made a whole new group of friends. Some of my favorite memories on this trip are sitting around the campfire laughing and talking. I genuinely missed these people when I went home!
My favorite day was our long kayaking day. Gates kayaked with us through some pretty rough waters to Bull's Island. Full of knowledge, he pointed things out to us the whole way. We hiked on Bull's Island to beautiful Boneyard Beach where Eric was waiting for us with lunch! After spending some time on the beach we kayaked again, headed back to our camp. The water was completely different from the morning. Instead of choppy rough water, it was calm and looked like glass. The sun was setting and dolphins were swimming by us. We ended up paddling in the darkness of the night. That was a once in a lifetime experience. It was one of those moments where you look around and everything just slows down. A tiny moment where you realize how small you are and how beautiful the world is. When we got back to camp Eric and Gates made us dinner while the group sat around the fire, chatting and sipping wine. SO fun!!
While it wasn't raining our whole trip, it was unseasonably cold. I still had a blast. If that says anything about this trip, it is that it is GREAT! I honestly don't have one bad thing to say about the trip and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to experience the beauty of nature and the human spirit.
Thank you for a wonderful trip!!
This Trip Blew Me Away!
October proved to be a sensational time of year for this trip. Make sure you pack with just the essentials, over packing will be regretted. I brought my own tent and was very happy to do so for 2 reasons, 1 is that I have a very high quality tent that I love and 2 is that I think it is a bit awkward to room with someone you never met, in a tent!! DO NOT BRING COTTON garments. You are on the ocean and need everything to be quick dry high tech material. If you are an avid photographer, like me, I wish I had a better quick access waterproof container for ONLY my camera, so I can keep it handy and protected on the top of the kayak. I did just fine without it but it could have been easier. Definitely get your own small waterproof bags for essentials during the day. Definitely be prepared for mosquitos, even if they do not show up, no bug spray works when they want you. So very happy to have experienced this trip and delighted to have had Eric and Gates as our guides - they are amazing, wonderful, knowledgeable people.