Best Charleston Eco Tours for the Whole Family


*Thank you to Traci Magnus for this guest post about the amazing eco tours available around the Lowcountry! 

Eco tours have become quite popular in Charleston — and for good reason. Venture beyond the city’s cobblestone streets, and you’ll discover beautiful salt marshes, waterways, and barrier islands that are teeming with wildlife.

Best of all, there are plenty of eco tours in Charleston that are suitable for all ages. Whether you’d like to catch a view of dolphins on a boat ride or explore nature with a guided walking tour, Charleston has something for everyone to enjoy.

Ready to experience the natural beauty of the Lowcountry? Here are the best Charleston eco tours that will delight the entire family.

Take a Catamaran to Morris Island

If you’re traveling with little ones, you may want an easy tour with some amenities and minimal walking. In that case, consider booking a Sandlapper Tour to Morris Island, an uninhabited island in Charleston Harbor.

This Sandlapper Tour will have your family board the “Palmetto,” a 45-foot Corinthian catamaran that glides quietly through the water. Restrooms are available on board for guests, which parents will be grateful for.

As you make your way through the Charleston Harbor, your family will get close-up views of Lowcountry wildlife, such as Bottlenose dolphins and Great Blue Herons. Kids will surely enjoy the myriad sea life shown on board with Sandlapper’s touch tank.

Upon arrival to Morris Island, you can wander freely for an hour, combing the beach for seashells and touring the historic Morris Island Lighthouse.

Best Charleston Eco Tours for the Whole Family

Search for Dolphins Behind Folly Beach

With its family-friendly beaches and laid-back vibe, Folly Beach is a popular place for families to stay. It’s also a hot spot for dolphins, which can be viewed up close by boat.

Take a Dolphin Eco Tour with Charleston Outdoor Adventures to see pods of wild dolphins frolicking in the sea. Aboard a Carolina skiff bay boat, the entire family will get the chance to explore Charleston’s inlets, creeks, and marshes located behind Folly Beach.

For kids that love aquatic life, this tour is an exciting and educational experience. You’ll hear from knowledgeable guides about the hundreds of wild dolphins that call Charleston home while seeing these enchanting creatures in their native habitats.

Best Charleston Eco Tours for the Whole FamilyHunt for Fossils by Kayak

The hunt is on! Book a fossil kayaking trip and get ready for an unforgettable experience. One of the more unique eco tours available in Charleston, a fossil kayaking tour from Charleston Fossil Adventures will take guests to secluded locations full of shark teeth and large fossils.

As you can imagine, the 30-million-year-old fossils found on this tour make for one-of-a-kind souvenirs to bring back home. How many people can boast about their Lowcountry fossil hunting adventures?

The tour is available to ages 10 and older, designed to accommodate beginners and pro excavators alike. Choose your fossil hunting expedition and unearth loads of family-friendly fun.

Explore Wildlife on a Nature Train Tour

All aboard the Nature Train! If you’re visiting Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, don’t miss this action-packed wildlife and history tour aboard a tram.

Only 45 minutes long, this tour is suitable for all ages and offers an opportunity to rest if you’ve had enough walking around Charleston (we do rank high in walkability). The Nature Train departs every half hour and takes guests on an educational tour of the wetlands, lakes, forests, and marshes in the plantation.

In addition to seeing turtles, egrets, alligators, and herons, you’ll also see history brought to life as you pass through 19th-century rice fields, a Native American ceremonial mound, a row of plantation slave cabins and more.

Best Charleston Eco Tours for the Whole Family

Cruise Up to Capers Island

Capers Island is a nature-lover’s dream. Located between Dewees Island and the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, this hidden Lowcountry gem is accessible only by boat and is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the state.

If a paddle boarding trip to the island sounds daunting, consider booking Capers Wildlife Exploration with Barrier Island Eco Tours. On this three-and-a-half-hour boat tour, you will see an abundance of wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins, bald eagles, pelicans and more, as you wind your way through tidal creeks and into salt marsh environments.

Once you arrive on Capers Island, you’ll have an hour to explore it’s natural beauty, including the picturesque Boneyard Beach. Few visitors get to see this gorgeous place, so be sure to make the most of it and take plenty of pictures!

Kiawah Creatures Walking Tour

Luxury resorts and championship golf may come to mind with Kiawah Island, but the barrier island is also known for its eco-friendly initiatives and rich wildlife. Stay on Kiawah and take one of their many walking tours for an opportunity to learn about, explore, and experience the many animals that inhabit the island.

Kiawah Creatures is one walking tour that is ideal for families of all ages. On this tour, you’ll join a knowledgeable naturalist and explore Kiawah’s best natural habitats.  

Kids will learn about all things nature on this tour, from local wildlife to native plants and the island’s cherished loggerhead turtles. Stay in the resort and experience eco-friendly luxury to its fullest.

Charleston’s extensive waterways, marshlands, and barrier islands offer plenty of opportunities for families to get in touch with nature and learn more about our native ecosystems. From dolphin tours to kayaking excursions, there is no shortage of ways to explore the rich ecosystems of the Lowcountry.

Book one of these Charleston eco tours and don’t be surprised to come away with more than a newfound appreciation of nature. You’ll also make lasting memories that the whole family will treasure for years to come.

About the Author

Traci Magnus was raised on the Charleston Coast and attended the College of Charleston before heading to the Big Apple. She returned to Charleston in 2006, along with her husband Glenn and their son Max. She joined the Dunes Properties team in early 2008 as Director of Marketing. Read more of Traci’s articles here