This leg of our yearlong journey from Key West to Norfolk connects two alluring and historic port cities. After a boozy adventure in the Hostess City, get a good night's sleep and cruise north, taking in the natural gifts of Hilton Head Island, the colorful downtown of Beaufort, and the wilderness of Edisto Island. The end of the trail is the Holy City, with its wealth of historic and culinary charms.

By Jani Parker
July 10, 2017
Photo: Nicholas Inverso/Getty Images

All year, we're collaborating with Waterway Guide Media to bring you the best segments of the 1,243-mile-long Intracoastal Waterway on a journey from Key West, Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia, at the end of the (watery) trail. This month: enjoying the pleasures of towns large and small along the Atlantic coast. See previous parts of the trip:

Mile 576 (8 Nautical Miles West) | Savannah: Pub Crawl

Sightsee, exercise, and have a beer (or two) with Savannah Slow Ride on a bicycle built for 15. The two-hour Pub Crawl excursion stops at a string of the city's most fun and historic bars. Rates start at $25. (Must be 21 to ride.) TIE UP: In the heart of Savannah, River Street Market Place Dock rates start at $2.75 per foot per day.

Mile 564 (4.5 Nautical Miles West) | Hilton Head Island: Aerial Adventures

While the beaches of this barrier island are always perfect for walking, ZipLine Hilton Head's canopy tour shows you the world from heights of up to 75 feet in the salty air. TIE UP: Daily dockage at Broad Creek Marina is complimentary for zip-liners.

Photo: Captured Moments Photography

Mile 536 | Beaufort: Festival Fun

Stroll along the Beaufort River at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which really comes to life during the Beaufort Water Festival in July. TIE UP: Convenient to the historic district, the Downtown Marina of Beaufort offers moorings for $1.95 per foot per day.

Mile 497 | Edisto Island: Island Excursion

Anchor in Steamboat Creek and dinghy in to explore the shoreline. If you have bikes on board, pedal up Highway 174 to King's Farm Market, part of a six-generation family farm offering seasonal produce and baked goods including outrageous lemon bars.

Photo: Russell Kord/Alamy

Mile 467 | Charleston: Holy Waterfront!

Stay salty in this sophisticated city with a trip to the South Carolina Aquarium (check out the sea turtle hospital), and then hit Fleet Landing for shrimp, grits, and the best waterfront view in town. TIE UP: Nearby Charleston Maritime Center rates start at $1.50 per foot per day.


To order guidebooks and begin planning your boating adventures, visit


Charleston Sailing School offers a fleet of sailboats, catamarans, and powerboats for bareboat chartering (25 years of age and older), available by the day or week.


134 Miles sailed

22 Original public squares in historic Savannah

1 Million + Rounds of Golf Played on Hilton Head Annually

3 Years For a Lowcountry wild oyster to mature

0 NFL and NBA teams in South Carolina

Photos: Nicholas Inverso/Getty Images; Captured Moments Photography; Russell Kord/Alamy