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Paddle Boarding Skull Creek on Hilton Head Island

tree next to water

Skull Creek is the most popular destination for paddlers who want to explore the North end of Hilton Head Island. Its location between the Calibogue Sound and the Port Royal sound make the creek a highway for marine life, especially dolphins. The creek separates Pinckney Island from Hilton Head Island, and is ideal for paddlers looking to get the most out of a short trip. The wildlife refuge on Pinckney Island hosts thousands of birds and different animals unique to the Lowcountry, while Hilton Head offers fantastic views from Skull Creek.

What Makes it Great?

Skull Creek is considered one of the best places to paddle for plenty of reasons, the marine life found there being one of the biggest. Our favorite aspect of the creek is the fact that you are surrounded by interesting places to explore while paddling there. The south side of Pinckney Island, the north side of Hilton Head, Calibogue Sound, and Port Royal Sound are all within paddling distance from the launch point. It’s in your power to check out all of these spots in one day, granted that would be one very long day of paddling. It is not a small, placid creek, but more of a river that can get pretty choppy at times. It’s important to stick close to the banks of either Pinckney or Hilton Head, and to watch out for boats when you’re crossing the river.

Who is Going to Love It?

Intermediate to skilled paddlers are going to love this route, as well as anyone who enjoys touring in a kayak. It’s best to visit Skull Creek when you can dedicate an entire day or weekend to paddling it. There is an overwhelming amount of destinations along the creek, including lookout points on Pinckney Island, and all of the tidal creeks found in the marsh. Skull Creek is basically the Disneyworld of paddling in Hilton Head. You’re going to see some interesting things, and you may have to pick and choose which tidal creeks and flats you want to check out. Paddle boarders should stick close to land. The currents and choppiness of Skull Creek can feel like paddling into a brick wall at times, and for the most part is not that enjoyable.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The best spot to drop in at Skull Creek is a launch at the Squire Pope Rowing and Sailing Center. There is no launch fee, just remember to bring your PFD, water pump, whistle, etc. The Coast Guard patrols this water fairly heavily, and will readily give you a ticket if you do not have the proper gear on hand. That being said, you should always carry emergency equipment when you paddle regardless if the water is patrolled.

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