South Carolina Boating Guide: 6 Spots to Boat in South Carolina

So you're looking to go boating in South Carolina, the "Palmetto State"? Great choice! With so many options for both freshwater and saltwater adventures, South Carolina is a perfect spot for a boating vacation. And thanks to its generally mild climate, you can enjoy these activities year-round, unlike many other places. 

Plus, with over 12 large lakes, you can experience everything from stunning mountain backdrops to beautiful beaches, all within the same state. That variety is hard to beat! Please keep reading for our complete South Carolina boating guide, packed with info for every water lover.

Cast a Line or Cruise the Coast: Boating in South Carolina

South Carolina's diverse bodies of water are a major reason boating is so popular here. From the vast Atlantic Ocean to calm, scenic lakes and rivers, there's something for every boater. 
Beyond its beautiful beaches, this southern state offers world-class golf courses and a rich history, making it a well-rounded vacation destination. But the star of the show might be the lakes. Some are so breathtaking that they've landed on countless bucket lists – we'll reveal some of these must-see destinations below!

Boating in South Carolina: Where to Get a South Carolina Boating License

Essentially, adults don't need to worry about having a boating license down here! However, boaters born after July 1, 2007, must complete an approved boater education course before operating a boat or personal watercraft with a ten-horsepower motor. 

South Carolina Boating Guide

South Carolina Boating Guide: Top Activities

As you'll learn below, many of the lakes and bodies of water in South Carolina are home to various species of fish, making angling very popular in this part of the country.  Prepare to cruise along the coast, explore hidden coves by kayak or canoe, or take a refreshing dip. And because of the size of the bodies of water, watersports are also very popular here (just beware of alligators).

Where to Boat in South Carolina

Choosing where to go boating in South Carolina depends on your interests! For many visitors, fishing is a top priority - so let's explore locations based on both sightseeing and the fish they're known for.

1. Lake Murray

First stop, Lake Murray! This sprawling reservoir boasts over 650 miles of shoreline, making it a haven for all things boating. Sail across glistening waters, cast a line for stripers or largemouth bass, or pull out your pontoon for a leisurely cruise. 
Plus, the coves are perfect for trying your hand at watersports, and thanks to South Carolina's mild climate, you can enjoy the lake year-round. Just remember, save the swimming and scuba diving for the summer months when the water warms up.

2. Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island might surprise you! It's famous for stunning beaches and world-class golf, but boaters love it too. And with seven public boat ramps, launching your vessel couldn't be easier. 
Kayaking and fishing for flounder are popular as well, but keep an eye out –  alligators do call these waters home. So, stay alert while you're soaking up the sun or exploring the island by boat!

3. Lake Marion

No "Where to Boat in South Carolina" list would be complete without mentioning Lake Marion, the state's largest lake. The funny thing is, it's not just big; it's also known for large-sized fish! 
Anglers can expect to catch channel catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, and white perch (among others). And keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings – alligators, wild turkeys, and egrets are all common visitors.

4. Lake Hartwell

The fishing enthusiasts probably already know this popular boating spot in South Carolina – Lake Hartwell! And it isn't just a renowned bass fishing haven; it's a stunning destination for any and all boating activities. Cruise along the lake admiring the breathtaking scenery, or cast a line and try your luck reeling in a trophy fish.  

Beyond fishing, you can indulge in lakeside dining, exciting water sports, or even explore the beauty of the surrounding land with some hunting and camping adventures.  

5. Charleston Harbour

Visiting Charleston, the heart of South Carolina? Then Charleston Harbor should be on your boating itinerary! 

This unique spot blends rich history with the open Atlantic Ocean, offering something for everyone. Cruise through historic sites, cast a line for some trout, or zip around on a PWC – the Harbor promises endless fun.

6. Lake Keowee

Lastly, we must remember another South Carolina gem: Lake Keowee! This man-made marvel boasts stunning emerald-green water and a breathtaking backdrop near the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
While words can't do it justice, it's a popular spot among tourists and residents alike for its peaceful atmosphere and ample opportunities for fun. Go fishing for spotted bass, try sailing, or just take in the views—you can't go wrong. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular here, making it a well-rounded spot for water lovers!

Read Next: Paddleboarding Tips

Your Complete South Carolina Boating Guide

We hope this overview of boating in South Carolina is the first step to booking that southern boating vacation! For more inspiration for your next trip, visit our website. We'll also explore other states known for their boating activities.