Travel Destinations

Boating Slowly through the Lowcountry

Southeast
|
|
October 2021
|
By
Heather
Burke

The Lowcountry is legendary for its swaying marsh grass of blue, green and purple, teeming sea birds, and shallow calm bays leading to historic coastal towns. This magical waterway connecting South Carolina and Georgia pays tribute to its tragic and triumphant past from plantation life where sea cotton, rice and live oak were harvested in the hot sun, to civil unrest and battlegrounds, to gentile oceanfront retreats. The fascinating stories, the flavors and landmarks, lure you to go slowly to explore the lifestyle, taste the sweet tea and eat succulent shrimp along the way.

In Charleston, you have the modern Ravenel Bridge juxtaposed with enduring forts Sumter and Moultrie. Get off the boat to wander time-revered Rainbow Row's antebellum homes and venture out to historic Middletown Place or Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens. Stroll King Street's glam boutiques with brunch at Halls Chop House, especially on Sunday with live gospel music. On charming Queen Street, Poogan's Porch serves precious she-crab soup amid colonial homes.

beaufort - low country - marinalife
The Big Chill in Beaufort | Greg Burke[

Beaufort has a delightful waterfront park right on the ICW leading to Bay Street where you will likely splurge in the upscale local shops before feasting on fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits at Saltus River Grill on the water. To dig deep into Beaufort's past, Janet's Walking History Tour is outstanding, as Janet is ebullient and informative.Onward to Hilton Head Island, which is well populated but still holds dear Gullah cuisine and traditions from neighboring Daufuskie Island. Harbour Town Yacht Basin at the base of Hilton Head's classic candy-striped lighthouse is an ideal marina with Sea Pines Resort amenities of golf, tennis and the beach club as a bonus. The Salty Dog is the place for happy hour on the docks. Savor the buttery Lowcountry Boil loaded with shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. Hilton Head's bike paths are perfect with no hills and plentiful shady trees. You can even ride on the hard-packed sand of the 12-mile Atlantic beach.

hilton head - low country - fall 2021
Hilton Head Alligator | Greg Burke

Savannah is a bustling commercial port but a treasured city to explore on foot. Or better board a trolley tour from River Street to Forsyth Park where moss-draped live oaks provide a delightful canopy. Jones Street is among the prettiest anywhere architecturally. If Charleston epitomizes southern sophistication, then Savannah is her wild stepsister, with livelier bars and a liberal to-go cup drink policy. The 1776 Pink House serves up superb soul food. Evening ghost tours, especially at Halloween, evoke spooky stories along Savannah's spirited (polite word for haunted) avenues.

Slipping deeper south in Georgia, Skidaway, St. Catherine's and Sapelo are lovely low-lying islands surrounded by thick salty sea grass. It can be serene with a soothing ocean breeze or so sticky you long for a tall iced sweet tea.

The Golden Isles are Georgia's famed strand of barrier islands, a boaters' haven just off Brunswick. St. Simons, Sea Island and Jekyll are each unique with gracious hospitality and heaps more legend and lore. The Cloisters is the poshest placed to stay; this elegant exclusive 1928 resort on Sea Island still garners five stars from its fine clientele.

st simon - low country - marinalife
St. Simon Island Beach | Greg Burke

Jekyll Island, just below St. Simons, is a gorgeous island-wide park, with a marina poised right on the ICW, Jekyll Harbor Marina. Designated coquina shell bike paths tour all around Jekyll through live oak forests to plantation remains and the fishing pier, to seemingly endless broad sand beach on Jekyll's oceanside. Roll up your sleeves and feast on yet another Old Bay Lowcountry Boil at Zachry's Riverhouse just off the marina dock. Or sip cocktails at sunset at The Wharf enjoying oysters and fresh snapper. Stay on property at the palatial 1886 Jekyll Island Club, one of the most sophisticated resorts from the gilded age. Play croquet in whites on the sweeping lawn and take a horse-drawn carriage around the splendid campus of impressive old cottages.

The South has soul. Like its Lowcountry cuisine, the land, the sea and the locals are sweet and salty. Their history is proud, their spirit is perseverant, and their hospitality is genuine. With a keen eye and an open agenda, you can witness dolphin, turtles, forts and magnificent mansions, and meet cool people as you pass through this haven of America's southeastern seaboard.

A SAMPLING OF SOUTHERN FALL FESTIVALS OF FUN & FLAVORS

Charleston MOJA Festival

September 30-Oct 10, 2021

Revel in a celebration of African and Caribbean culture.

Beaufort Shrimp Festival

October 1-2, 2021

Join the annual shrimp feast and fest that toasts the region's culinary traditions.

Savannah at Halloween

October is a wicked time in this spirited city with ghost and graveyard walks and haunted plantation tours.

Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival

October 16-24, 2021

Experience the regional cuisine, local history and culture of the area.

Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival

September 14-18, 2021

Sample the regional wines and creations of the area's top culinary talents.

Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance Motoring Festival

November 5-7, 2021

Rev up for an annual gathering of car aficionados.

RSM Classic Golf Tournament

November 15-21, 2021

Join the fun at Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons.

Brunswick Fall Festival

The Saturday prior to Halloween every year. Celebrate autumn's best at Waterfront Park and Liberty Ship Plaza.

Holly Jolly Jekyll

November to Christmas

Witness the island-wide celebration of holiday decorations, caroling, lights and sights.

Editor's Note: Several Lowcountry fall events are cancelled in 2021, to return in 2022: Savannah Food & Wine Festival, Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival on St. Helena Island, and Jekyll's Shrimp & Grits Fest.

Photos by Greg Burke.

Related Articles
Camden, Maine
|

True boaters say the real Maine coast doesn’t start until you reach Penobscot Bay. This is “Down East” from Kennebunkport and Portland. The dramatic stretch of coastline from Camden to Mount Desert Island sparkles with granite shores, dotted with archipelagos of pine-tree covered islands and mountains cascading into the sea. This region offers some of the best cruising ground in the world.

Camden is a magical little seaside town in the heart of Maine’s mid-coast. It’s historic but hip. “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is their moniker, as Camden Hills and 780-foot Mount Battie stretch down toward the bustling waterfront where this 1769 New England village sits, creating a postcard scene.

Photo Courtesy of Greg Burke

Camden is super foot-traffic friendly, starting at Harbor Park and the beautiful brick Public Library that graces the top of the bay by the Town Docks. Enjoy a picnic on the sprawling park lawn; there’s often a craft festival or free concert at the outdoor amphitheater. From the waterfront, stroll the quaint sidewalks leading to cafés, boutiques, craft stores and art galleries, pubs, and surprisingly trendy restaurants.

You can hike, bike or drive the toll road up Mount Battie in Camden Hill State Park, which encompasses 5,500 acres and 30 miles of trails. Your reward is spectacular panoramic views of the harbor and Penobscot Bay below.

Eaton Point, at the eastern entrance to the harbor, is home to a new Lyman-Morse yacht facility. Camden remains a working harbor with lobster fishermen, boat builders, ferries and tall-masted schooners taking folks out for scenic sails.

Camden hosts festivals throughout the summer season of jazz, film and its trademark Windjammers. In winter, the U.S. National Tobogganing Champion-ships are held at Camden’s namesake Snow Bowl – our country’s only ski area with views of the Atlantic.

Camden is an ideal boater’s gateway with all the services and shops you need in walking distance from the waterfront. Excursions from this protected harbor are countless and legendary. A quick cruise brings you to quiet Lasell Island for a sunset anchorage. Farther on you reach Maine’s Maritime Academy home in beautiful Castine, and the rustic islands of North Haven, Vinalhaven and Deer Isle. Ultimately you can cruise north and east through beautiful Merchants Row, or the more protected Eggemoggin Reach, to Mount Desert Island, home to famed Acadia National Park, Northeast, Southwest and Bar Harbors.

WHERE TO DOCK

Camden Public Landing Town Docks
207-691-4314

Contact the harbormaster for overnight slips, limited but in town, and moorings throughout the harbor.

Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer Marine
207-236-7108

Across the harbor on Camden’s east shores, this revamped marina is a half-mile walk to town, with new docks and a marina facility, home of Lyman-Morse Boatyard and 30 slips plus moorings.

WHERE TO DINE

40 Paper
207-230-0111

Relish artful cuisine locally sourced from farmers, fishermen and “foragers.” In an historic wool mill in downtown Camden, it’s comfy but chic. Savor octopus, lamb, mussels, salmon and more with fresh produce and creative sides. Save room for dessert made from scratch.

Peter Otts on the Water
207-236-4032

Get your chowder and Maine lobster fix from Chef Peter. This classic setting overlooking the harbor is a Camden staple you “ott” not miss. Open for lunch or dinner.

Franny’s Bistro
207-230-8199

With a neighborhood feel, Franny’s serves up lobster fritters, crab cakes, shrimp dumplings and land-lubber faves, too. A fun menu in a cozy setting.

Bagel Café
207-236–2661

For fresh-brewed morning coffee and daily “boiled then baked” bagels or breakfast sammies served all day.

Read More
Jamestown, Rhode Island
|

Located on Conanicut Island, Gould Island and Dutch Island, Jamestown welcomes boaters to Narragansett Bay.  Its southernmost point is on Gould Island and marked by Beavertail Lighthouse and State Park. The northernmost point is marked by Conanicut Island Lighthouse.  While Conanicut Island is the second largest island on Narragansett Bay, it is near the western mainland in Kingston, and Newport lies to the east on Aquidneck Island.  Hop on the Jamestown Newport Ferry to get the lay of the land and sea.

Jamestown was settled early in colonial history and was named for James, Duke of York, who became King James II in 1685.  By 1710, many of Jamestown’s current roads were already in place and a lot of its early architecture is well preserved. Soak up some local history at the Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and Park, Jamestown Windmill, Watson Farm, Conanicut Island Sanctuary, Fort Wetherill State Park, and the Jamestown Settlement museum.

The main town, shops and restaurants are located on the eastern shore of Conanicut Island.  But even from the western side, Dutch Harbor and other attractions are easily accessed with a one-mile walk.

WHERE TO DOCK

Conanicut Marina
401-423-5820

This full-service marina has a ships store/chandlery, gift shop, extensive dockage and a large mooring field.  It’s located in the heart of town overlooking Newport and the Pell Bridge, but bring your fishing poles for the kids.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard
401-423-0630

Located on the west passage of Narragansett Bay, this small, local marina has good moorings, launch service and facilities.  At times, the harbor can be rolly from a SW wind up the West Passage.  The holding ground is excellent for anchoring, but the dinghy dock is by seasonal permit only.

Safe Harbor Jamestown Boatyard
401-423-0600

Jamestown Boatyard is renowned for excellent workmanship on all types of boats.  It also has a large mooring field and is in a beautiful location on the East Passage.

WHERE TO DINE

Slice of Heaven
401-423-9866

This family-owned café and bakery with an outdoor patio is an ideal spot for breakfast and lunch, especially if you’re looking for tasty gluten-free and vegetarian options.

J22 Tap & Table
401-423-3709

This lively, year-round restaurant specializes in classic American cuisine and local seafood dishes such as New England clam chowder, lobster tail and seared yellowfin tuna while accommodating meat eaters with wings, burgers and steak tacos.

Village Hearth Bakery & Café
401-423-9282

Take a seat inside this rustic eatery or outside on the patio to enjoy wood-fired bread, pizzas and pastries with a cool beer or wine.  To start your day with a smile, order a cup of the eco-friendly coffee.

Bay Voyage Restaurant
401-560-7979

Inside the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn, this casual dining establishment presents a seasonal menu of American cuisine standards and seafood with fresh ingredients and a stellar view of Narragansett Bay.

Read More
Chesapeake Bay Calendar of Events
|

Summer is here, and it’s time to soak up the sun, visit bustling beaches, learn about boating history and relish the small-town charm around the Chesapeake Bay. Read on for hidden gems and tried-and-true events along the Bay, all the way from Havre de Grace to Cape Charles. Whether you’re a fan of watersports, arts and crafts, street festivals, or coastal cuisine, you’ll find something worth docking for a while.

July

Yorktown Market Days, Fun in the Sun Market

Yorktown, VA

July 16 - Fun in the Sun Market;

August 6 - National Farmers Market Week

Experience a coastal Hampton Roads market on the York River. Check out local produce, meats, seafood, gourmet dog treats, art and more every Saturday this summer, and stop by one of the dates above for a themed, family-friendly extended market.

Where to Dock: Riverwalk Landing

Spirit of America

Havre de Grace, MD

July 2

Enjoy this beautiful town through a mid-century Americana lens at the Independence Day festival. You won’t want to miss the Patriotic Pooch contest, 50s throwback entertainers and best of all, derby races on Pennington Avenue.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

Sea Glass & Beach Crafts Market at Annmarie

Solomons, MD

July 2

Kick off the holiday weekend at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center’s annual beach-themed market. Browse all things crafty and sea glass at over 50 booths!

Where to Dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Kent County Waterman’s Day

Rock Hall, MD

July 3

For the first time since 2019, stop by and celebrate watermen who dedicate their lives to working on the Chesapeake! Enjoy a day of family fun, including anchor tosses and a raffle, culminating in the infamous boat docking.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association’s 49th Annual Show

Easton, MD

July 7-10

Calling all car, truck and train enthusiasts! This multi-day show will be packed with steam and gas engines; antique tractors, trucks and cars; live steam train models; and even a horse pull.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge

Annapolis, MD

July 9 

Sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club, this open water race has something for all levels. Experienced paddlers can fight it out in the seven-mile Challenge, and recreational paddlers will enjoy the 3.5-mile Challenge or one-mile Just for Fun race.

Where to Dock: Eastport Yacht Center

Plein Air Easton Art Festival

Easton, MD

July 17-24

Plein air painters express their craft from life instead of the studio, so you’ll see artists from across the country painting all around town. Also attend lectures and workshops, and buy art and other goods downtown all week. 

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

14th Annual Hampton Heat

Hampton, VA

July 23

Dock at the transient slips in downtown Hampton, then join the landlubbers at Langley Speedway, one of NASCAR’s best weekly tracks, for the annual Hampton Heat races.

Where to Dock: Bluewater Yachting Center

Southern Maryland Boat Club Bash on the Bay

Leonardtown, MD

July 29-31

Since the Calvert Marine Museum opened an exhibit on the golden era of powerboat racing in 2013, this vintage boat club has put on several races a year. Make your way to the historic Leonardtown Wharf to see vintage powerboats in action.

Where to Dock: Combs Creek Marina

2022 Snakehead Summer Slam

July 30

Annapolis, MD

Things are sure to heat up at the fourth of five tournaments in the 2022 Snakehead Championship Series at Anglers Sport Center. Anglers in kayak/shoreline and boating divisions will be up for all kinds of prizes, including one from the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasive Count.

Where to Dock: Podickory Point Marina

Annapolis Yacht Club Two Bridge Fiasco Race

Annapolis, MD

July 31

Cruise to the southern Chesapeake to witness this pursuit style race starting between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Severn River Bridge. Look out for all types of boats in the competition, and even a foiler or two if you’re lucky.

Where to Dock: Annapolis Yacht Club

August

Annual Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival

Cordova, MD

August 5-7

Embrace the Eastern Shore summer lifestyle at this family-friendly festival. Feel the adrenaline rush of hot air balloon rides and keep the thrill going on the mechanical bull and bouncy house on land.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

A Day of Celebration & Remembrance of Harriet Tubman

Cambridge, MD

August 6 

Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, bicentennial and antislavery activism on the Underground Railroad just miles from where she lived as a child. Join the commemorative parade through the streets of Cambridge and enjoy local vendors and entertainment at the festival.

Where to Dock: Cambridge Yacht Basin

Pirates & Wenches Weekend

Rock Hall, MD

August 12-14

Presented by Main Street Rock Hall, you can dock at a local bayfront marina ready for an immersive, family-friendly weekend. The whole family will love the marketplace on Main Street, pirate and mermaid performers, and costume contests, and there will be no shortage of grub and grog.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Solomons Dragon Boat Festival 2022

Solomons Island

August 13

Cruise to scenic Solomons Island to watch 30 dragon boat teams compete for glory on the Patuxent River and explore the local vendor village. Arrive the week before and you might catch a Dotting of the Eye Ceremony or even a flash mob.

Where to dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Leo Wardrup Memorial Cape Charles Cup Regatta

Cape Charles, VA

August 20-21

Make your way to Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two days of racing on the Chesapeake. While you’re there, lounge on the Cape Charles town beach, stroll around the retail district and check out Victorian homes in the historic district.

Where to Dock: Cape Charles Yacht Center & Marine Services

7th Annual Coastal Craft Beer Festival

Virginia Beach, VA

August 27

Spend your Saturday at the waterfront Neptune’s Park, tasting your way through 60+ beers, ciders and seltzers from 30 breweries. Learn about all Virginia breweries have to offer or branch out with some regional or national craft brews.

Where to Dock: Rudee's Inlet Station Marina

September

The Waterfront Festival

Havre de Grace, MD

September 9-10

Cruise to the northern Bay to round out your summer with this annual festival, kicking off with a lighted boat parade. Enjoy fun for the whole family with fresh crab and seafood, beer gardens, live music, hot air balloons and a youth fishing derby!

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

2nd Annual Portsmouth Paddle Battle

Portsmouth, VA

September 10 

Whether you kayak or paddleboard as a novice or a pro, or enjoy waterfront live music, food and drink, there’s a place for you in the Paddle Battle on the Elizabeth River. Proceeds will support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and Lightship Portsmouth Museum.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Yacht Marina

TrawlerFest Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

September 27-October 1

Close out your summer season with Passagemaker’s annual boat show held at Harbor East Marina in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The show hosts impression in-water selections of new and pre-owned long-rang cruisers, coastal cruisers and of course, tons of trawlers. Free seminars and educational demonstrations are held throughout the weekend.

Where to Dock: Harbor East Marina

Read More

Want to Stay In the Loop?

Stay up to date with the latest articles, news and all things boating with a FREE subscription to Marinalife Magazine!

Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.