Every season has its advantages, but autumn is a particularly agreeable time to be out on the water along the South Carolina coast. With migratory birds returning and summer tourist crowds waving goodbye, you’ll get to enjoy the charming scenery and perfect weather in relative peace and quiet. These are the top 5 reasons to take advantage of Lowcountry kayaking in fall.
Enjoy Perfect Temperatures
Fall in the Lowcountry is not too hot and not too cold—in other words, just right. It’s the ideal kayaking weather, with warm days and pleasantly crisp mornings that become progressively chillier as the season progresses. Daytime highs are still in the 80s most days in September, and by November you can expect daily highs in the 60s or 70s.
Nighttime temperatures may dip down into the high 40s or 50s, so expect the morning to be chilly until the sun gets higher and burns off the fog from the salt marshes. It’s often possible to experience a wide temperature range over the course of a fall kayaking trip, so dress in layers so you’re ready for anything. Wool and fleece make good insulation layers because they keep you warm even if they get wet, and a waterproof outer shell will keep you dry.
Beat the Crowds
Fall isn’t quite the off season on Hilton Head, but it’s definitely not the “ON” season either. When the beach-going crowds of summer subside, it’s a very different island, with more of a small town atmosphere than a tourist town vibe. That makes it just about perfect for anyone looking for a quiet, peaceful kayak trip. After Labor Day, you’ll find the waterways much less crowded, and by the end of October, you might feel like you have them all to yourself.
Witness the Fall Bird Migration
The South Carolina Lowcountry is right smack in the middle of one of America’s major bird migration routes. Fall brings numerous bird species through our region as they return to southern climates from their summer haunts farther north, and some species travel as much as 10,000 miles. If you’re interested in bird watching on Hilton Head, fall is a great time to visit.
Hundreds of species can potentially be spotted from your kayak in fall. Numerous types of warblers are in the neighborhood, and you might catch a glimpse of yellow-throated warbler, black and white warbler, northern parula or American redstart in the trees above the salt
marshes. Several rare species of sandpipers, plovers and avocets also return to the area, and we’re always happy to welcome piping plovers back to our beaches!
Experience Fall Festivals on Hilton Head
There’s a lot going on in the Lowcountry in fall, and some of the best festivals and events of the year are packed into the Autumn months. In between kayak excursions, you might want to check out some of Hilton Head’s awesome fall festivals. That’s especially true if you love great food, which tends to be the theme of many of our festivities this time of year.
October brings the Lowcountry Fish & Grits Music Festival, the Hilton Head Italian Heritage Festival, the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival, and the annual Rhythm & Brews festival. Best of all, fall marks the return of oyster season on Hilton Head, and the Hilton Head Oyster Festival in November is one of the most anticipated events of the season.
Embrace the Fall Colors
The Lowcountry doesn’t experience the same vibrant fall foliage you might see in more northern regions, but it does have a unique beauty all its own this time of year. The color shift in the Hilton Head area is more subtle, and you can still see some lovely shades of amber and gold as you paddle among the marshes and woodlands.
The telltale sign of the changing seasons is the salt marshes’ shift from green to gold. The thick stands of Spartina grass that line the marshes start to die back as the temperatures swing low, turning a beautiful golden color and providing a charming backdrop for autumn kayak trips. And as the cordgrasses reach the end of their cycle and go to seed, they also provide ample food for the migratory birds that stop through this time of year.