Fourth on the Water

Photo: Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

By Jessie Renew, Outside Hilton Head

One of the most exciting days of the Hilton Head calendar is July 4th. Not only is it the best party of the year, it is also the pinnacle of our summer season—a reminder that there are only four more months of fun in the sun left before the sleepy, cool season.

The most difficult decision of the whole summer is what to do on the Fourth of July. There are lots of great options for daytime and evening activities, all capped off by magnificent fireworks displays. For those wanting to experience a real Lowcountry Independence Day, get out on the water! Even if you’re not on the Island over the Fourth, there are weekly fireworks displays during HarbourFest at Shelter Cove every Tuesday this summer with similar tour offerings.

There are great options for water activities on July 4th, for all types of people and groups. For those who want a truly unique, adventurous experience, consider a Fireworks Kayak Tour. These are offered by most of the kayak outfitters on the Island—my choice would be to paddle on Broad Creek.

The trip will begin with a 2-hour guided tour through the scenic creeks and marshes, while watching the sun set over the water. Around dark, groups will pick a perfect viewing spot to see the fireworks displays, which are shot off a barge in the middle of Broad Creek. After the show, you paddle back into the marina and, from there, you can hit a nearby watering hole for more celebrating!

For those who like the idea of watching the display out on the water, but aren’t so excited about kayaking, there are similar types of tours available on motorboats.

Boats can cover more ground than kayaks, so you will see more of the waterways, islands and marshes on the tour prior to the display. Your captain will then anchor the boat for the fireworks. If you can, choose to do this trip as a private charter, so it will be just your family and friends on board. On a private charter, you can also bring whatever snacks, drinks and decorations you like.

Want to be your own captain? Another great option is to rent a pontoon boat. You can tour the waterways, fish, swim and have fun all day on your own private, floating living room! These boats are very safe and as easy to drive as a car. You will be asked to bring the boat back to the marina before dark. From there, you can continue to hangout on the boat and watch the fireworks. It’s a great way to beat the crowds and have a comfortable, exclusive experience.

If you decide not to get out on the water, at least get close to it! Several waterfront restaurants across the Island—from Skull Creek, Broad Creek Marina and Palmetto Bay to Shelter Cove Harbour, Shelter Cove Towne Centre and Harbour Town—offer great views of the fireworks displays.

Whatever you choose to do this July 4th, keep in mind that the Island is very busy and that parking and traffic is gridlocked by early afternoon. Find your spot by midday and stay there until the show or travel by bike or foot. Also, keep in mind the safety of your group; sun protection and hydration are a must!

Whatever you choose to do this Independence Day, be sure to get outside and enjoy the Lowcountry!

For more than 30 years, Outside Hilton Head has provided personalized adventures for all ages, from kayak, fishing, nature and dolphin tours to kids’ camps, history excursions, family outings and standup paddleboarding. Don’t miss the guided full moon kayak tour, which explores the saltmarsh. (843) 686-6996 or