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  Sea Kayak Carolina Online Guide

A Sea Kayak Trip to Morris Island from Folly Creek!

Folly Landing to Morris Island Lighthouse  

Our tour is a fascinating paddle through the marshes of Folly Creek, inhabited by Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins, and various species of wildlife. We launch from the Folly Beach Public Boat Landing and into the glistening salt-water of the Folly River, turning right under the bridge for about 1.6 miles (bearing left at a junction). From that point, we paddle and then bear right about ½ mile northerly. Following the creek for another ½ mile due east, and then continuing .8 miles to an island (you can navigate around either side of an island). Head right at the junction for another .6 miles. At this point, the lighthouse comes into view on the other side of the marsh.

As we enjoy the paddle through the winding creek and marshes, we are rewarded by the looming site of the Morris lighthouse towering 160 feet above the water over the marsh. We are approaching our destination of the Morris lighthouse ahead.
morris island lighthouse
We turn sharply towards the right and cross the inlet, landing on the southerly tip of Morris Island , exposed by low tide. Here we take a break to relax and watch the marine life surrounding us for a while waiting for flood tide for our return. In 1876 the lighthouse stood 1,200 feet from the coast, but when jetties were created to protect shipping lanes in 1889, natural erosion intensified and the ocean impinged closer. By 1938, the lighthouse became automated due to ongoing erosion. Less than 30 years later, state officials ordered the lighthouse closed.

The Morris Island lighthouse is now completely surrounded by water (and is actually the third lighthouse on this site) but was once sitting on a good sized island with numerous buildings around it. The lighthouse was completed in 1876 to replace the lighthouse destroyed during the Civil War.
oak island marina
You can paddle out to the weathered Morris Island Lighthouse and locate a cornerstone on the foundation, with a copper plate that reads: "The first stone of this beacon was laid on the 30th of May 1767 in the seventh year of his majesty's reign, George III ."

This is a great trip for beginners as it is mainly protected water and pretty relaxing to paddle. This tour typically provides us ample opportunity to view resident bottlenose Dolphins in the water, mussel and oyster beds along the shorelines, and Egrets, Herons, Osprey, and Brown Pelicans, and American Oyster Catchers and other shorebirds gliding effortlessly in our South Carolina azure skies, or perched on the shoreline.

oak island group tour
We return to the launch site on Folly River for a satisfying and fun end to the day’s kayak trip, about 9 nautical miles in total.

• Due to the narrow width of the Inlet between Folly Island and Lighthouse Creek, incoming tide creates a strong current that may pull the kayak away from intended direction. It is best to give the area a wide berth.
• Folly River is paddled for part the trip and it can get choppy due to wind. Make sure to check your local forecast prior to launching.
• Oyster beds are exposed or nearly exposed at low tide. It is best not to stay too close to the shoreline or wherever you see poles emerging from the water.
• There are many ‘dead ends’ and mud marsh creeks if you make a wrong turn. . It is advisable to embark with a group or at least one other experienced paddler

Directions: From Sea Kayak Carolina, take a right turn and travel Folly Road to the parking area on your right hand side (across two small bridges). Be sure not to park in the trailer spots – tickets are issued.

It’s important not to park in trailer parking spots as tickets will be issued. You should park up against the back wall or one of the few short slots of the parking lot instead.

folly to morris island GPS coordinate map


›› Printable Google Earth Map with highlighted routes for this trip.

›› View the website on Morris Island Lighthouse

›› MeetUp Photo Gallery from Folly Creek to Morris Island Paddle

›› SKC Weather Forecast links

Don't miss Sea Kayak Carolina’s Resources page for information on tides, weather and other critical information to help you plan your kayak trips in Charleston and other coastal areas in South Carolina.

Printable PDF of Folly Landing to Morris Island tour.