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Charleston Harbor Tours

The Carolina Belle slips under the Ravenel Bridge at sunset.
The Carolina Belle slips under the Ravenel Bridge at sunset. Image courtesy of Charleston Harbor Tours

I've encountered a number of guests over the years who have toured aboard the Carolina Belle with Charleston Harbor Tours. I frequently ask them how they liked it, and don't think I've ever gotten anything but a positive response, but I'd never gone on the tour myself. I decided to remedy that situation a week or so ago, and got out in the harbor for the first time since early this past fall.


Typically it would be a no brainer to say yes to an invite on the water, but winter was flexing the very last bit of it's seasonal muscle a couple of Fridays ago. The temperature was somewhere around the fifties in Charleston that day, so I have to give extra credit to my friend, Hannah, for venturing out with me on a crisp day. We checked in at the Charleston Maritime Center and waited just off the dock for the Carolina Belle to pull into port. We looked around and ventured guesses as to where the other guests waiting might hail from. Because of the temperature, we resolved that the northern states and Canada may have sent some travelers our way.


I was greeted by an old friend and tour guide named Rob Clark as we boarded the double decker boat. Hannah and I were both a bit relieved to see that there was indeed indoor seating on the lower levels which added a comfortable buffer for the weather. We settled into some seats on the lower deck and watched a dolphin or two playing twenty or so yards from the boat as we pulled away from the dock. As we cruised through the harbor we got a great view and background on plenty of old Charleston landmarks like St. Michael's steeple, the USS Yorktown, and the Battery, and some newer ones like the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the South Carolina Aquarium. We also took a trip northeast and coasted by Sullivan's Island to catch a glimpse of the Morris Island lighthouse. Somewhere around Fort Sumter, the captain announced there was a dolphin at the bow of the boat.


Hannah and I both headed toward the upper deck to find a playful bottlenose off the port side of the boat. She swam from side to side traversing through the water near the wake of the boat in a playful manner for an extended peiod of time before swimming off in to the harbor. About ten minutes or so later, she was back (or a dolphin friend of hers was). I got the impression from the crew that dolphins were a regular feature of the tour and came around on a consistent basis. Our sighting was certainly a highlight of the tour.


We enjoyed the reminder of the tour below deck with our feet up. At that moment, I realized a tour aboard the Carolina Belle was an optimal option for folks who wanted to spend some time really relaxing. The trip is a great opportunity for guests who may have been walking or shopping for an extended period to do some additional sight-seeing while sitting in the sun on the upper deck or in a comfortable spot below gazing through a panorama of windows. I'm happy to have enjoyed the tour for the first time, and doubt it will be the last time I head out on the water with Charleston Harbor Tours.

Audra Gibson

Audra Gibson is a Christian, photographer, surfer, and a lover of teriyaki steak bites. She enjoys live music, doesn't like to be cold, and she's a bit of a cheese snob. Traveling Ink was her little brain child and she's very happy that you're here. She'd be oh so happy to recommend her favorite tours and attractions in town, help you with a team building event, or organize a day (or week) of fun for you and your group.


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