Rich culture, extensive heritage and beautiful scenery are just a few of the things South Carolina has to offer. With miles of beaches, natural beauty, museums, amusement parks and some of the best food there is to eat, the state is a playground for all kinds of people.
At the core of South Carolina’s vacation hub is its oldest city: Charleston. From here, visitors to the state can enjoy lots of outdoor activities such as walking tours, boat charters, beachcombing, and many others. The city itself offers many other things to do including tours on horse carriages, ghost hunting tours, taking in the city’s historic district, and enjoying plentiful shopping on King Street. Following an adventure downtown, explorers can travel just a few hours to scenic mountains offering hiking, birdwatching, and other favorable outdoor pursuits.
All of these star attractions that make South Carolina a great vacation destination are especially true for scuba divers who enjoy warm waters at inland locales during summer months.
Lake Murray, a manmade lake, serves as a focal point for nearby counties. With over 650 miles of shoreline, it’s impossible to take in its bounty of activities in a single go: guests flock to the lake for swimming, diving, boating, kayaking, and general relaxation. Its summer months are especially popular thanks to state and national fishing tournaments where competitors reel up striped bass.
Not too far from Lake Murray is Lake Jocassee: a 397-foot deep manmade lake located in Salem, which features 75 miles of shoreline. Because most of the area has been left in its natural state, it offers fantastic animal observation and fishing in its purest state. The big lake has a quarry built into it, which offers superb training opportunities: scuba students are able to try out different waters depths that match their goals; and as they descend, water visibility improves.
Above the water, Lake Jocassee offers plenty of attractions: especially at Devil’s Fork State Park. Guests here can enjoy camping, as well as all kinds of outdoor recreation, including paddle boarding, kayaking, and hiking trails.
Using their skills in the field, scuba divers also enjoy collecting artifacts along the Cooper River. When water kicks up the sandy bottom, relics both manmade and natural can be discovered, particularly shark teeth. The river offers plenty to find in the way of artifacts, though anyone interested in this pursuit will need to obtain a hobby license from the state.
Some of the more frequent finds are pieces of clay trader pipes. The pipes were, in long-forgotten days, rented by bar patrons. The patron would smoke with the pipe and when he was done, the tip of the pipe would be broken off to keep the item sanitary for the next person. The broken-off pieces of clay were thrown into the river. When the pipe stem was completely gone, the bowls would also be thrown away.
Myrtle Beach, along the Cooper River, is a must-see location that offers several wrecks to explore right off the shoreline. Favorites include the Frederick W. Day, a ship that sank in 1914 with a hold full of bags of cement, and the Comanche, which is populated with all kinds of sea life. There are six different zones in the water off the coast of Charleston and each one offers all kinds of sites to visit. One spectacle is a series of ledges made of slate that were originally the bed of an ancient river; today they are crumbling and coming apart.
Luckily, scuba explorers who are just starting their adventures, or those who prefer recreational diving, can get a lot out of this mini wreck alley. The best sites, according to locals, are found more than 10 feet offshore, and for miles, depths max out around 55 feet.
Also out in the water are 200 retired subway cars from New York City, which are used for artificial reefing programs. Now, the doors have been taken off, so divers can swim through and take a look around. The cars have been incredibly popular with fishermen and divers.
With its charm, culture, and wide breadth of recreational activities, South Carolina is a state destined for a vacationer’s shortlist. From finding ancient fossils embedded in riverbeds, to exploring the great outdoors the way it was meant to be enjoyed, the Palmetto State offers a unique, interactive glimpse into yesteryear; and that’s not including a swath of wrecks and submerged features: just what divers crave.