From The Blog

Get Out on the Water with Tidal Trails

Kiawah has so many special places, from the far reaches of the beach on the eastern end of the island to the expanses of marsh that carpet the island’s borders in green. Yet it’s the water that keeps our attention. With sea spray and shorebird song in the air, an adventure is waiting in Kiawah’s inlets, creeks and rivers if you know where to look.

Expert guidance is near at hand for members through KICA’s partnership with Tidal Trails, which offers tours of the waterways through custom boat tours, small group paddles, and more. Tidal Trails has been offering guided nature tours, instruction, and customized tours in the area for 25 years. 

Tidal Trails owner, Captain Duane Lapp, became a licensed United States Coast Guard Master Captain 20 years ago in Hilton Head. When he decided to retire and move to Charleston to be closer to his son and grandson, he soon began looking for a watersports business to buy after getting bored with retirement. Captain Lapp says, “I never get tired of being on the water!”

Special Places on the Water

After many years exploring the island and beyond, Captain Lapp and his crew know how to showcase the island’s beauty. Here are some suggestions for trips for families and adventure lovers alike:


Kayak through Cinder and Bass Creek where it is calm and peaceful and you never know what you will see – dolphins, wading birds, eagles, ospreys. Captain Lapp calls it a nature walk on the water.


There is a wildlife sanctuary called Bird Key that you can get close to by water. True to the name, there are an amazing number and variety of birds that nest there.


Watching the sunset over the Kiawah River is also a favorite. “Since all of our boat tours are private, our customers can bring food and beverages with them – this is the perfect opportunity for a glass of wine as the sun goes down.”


If members are interested in a longer trip, Captain Lapp suggests going to Morris Island by Folly Beach. “The ride over is through rivers and creeks they wouldn’t see otherwise and the island itself is really cool – you can see the old lighthouse, hunt for shells and shark’s teeth, take a picnic, get some sun and learn about an important battle of the Civil War that took place there.”

Captain Lapp notes that boat tours allow members and guides to travel further and explore the local rivers as well. Families enjoy tubing and family fishing tours, where members throw the cast net, do a little fishing and dolphin watching. 

Asked about his favorite tour memory, he says “I think the most memorable thing I have seen is strand feeding. This dolphin behavior is amazing to see and happens only in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I have seen it so many times but I never get tired of it!”

No two tours are the same. Captain Lapp encourages his guests to share ideas and his team will create your ultimate water excursion experience.

Check out the Tidal Trails website at to plan your own special trip, whether you want to relax, explore or have an island adventure.