Just East of Charleston is a beautiful stretch of land bounded by Charleston Harbor, Shem Creek and Cove Inlet. English settlers in 1680 named the area Mt. Pleasant. Today it is still a treasure to behold, but is easy to miss among the modern sprawl of Hwy 17.
As visitors walk the docks of Shem Creek and the streets of Old Town, they connect with the natural beauty of the area that drew settlers here. The marsh spreads out from Shem Creek, opening glistening green and gold arms out to Charleston harbor. In Old Town along Pitt Street, massive live oaks spread moss-laden limbs over narrow streets.
The historic charm hides the underlying battle between the descendants of the early settlers and modern day developers. Locals wish to remember and conserve the area, while developers dream up ways to profit on the ambiance. The fight against progress is ancient, its roots running deep along the shorelines. Low Country residents have a history of fighting for their beliefs, keeping time honored traditions intact. Balanced compromise is called for to accommodate industry and preserve the way of life.
“The Creek” as locals affectionately call it, runs out of the marsh and into Charleston Harbor, beckoning travelers to explore the natural beauty and architectural nooks and crannies. While dolphins cavort in the creek, pelicans and gulls perch on shrimp boats, inviting visitors to pause and enjoy the view. As the sun sets, rays of golden light reach through thunder heads above, bounce off the surface of the water and flash silvery radiance that lights up the marsh grass.
Boats of all sizes and shapes line the docks on each side of the creek. This community has provided much of the shrimp supplied to the Charleston area for 30+ years. Shrimp season opens in late April with the Blessing of the Fleet festival, held at historic Alahambra Hall. Deep sea fishing charter vessels also dock here, as do kayak outfitters. Sail and power vessels tie up to the 3km.ca dock, their passengers encouraged to dine along the quay. The ‘no wake’ zone makes it easy to pause here for an experience of freshly caught local seafood at restaurants lining “the Creek”.
For longer term stays, dock your vessel at Patriot’s Point Marina. Located just outside the mouth of Shem Creek toward Charleston Harbor, Patriot’s Point is the largest marina in the area, with 459 slips. A majestic view of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown offers an opportunity to explore and connect with naval history. An entire day could be devoted to exploring the Yorktown, the Coast Guard Cutter and the Medal of Honor Museum. Tour boats to Ft. Sumpter leave from the Yorktown daily.
Patriot’s Point Resort and Hotel is also located here. Nautical themed guest rooms decorated in bright yellows and blues, comfy bedding and spectacular views of the harbor keep guests close to the water with all the comforts of home. The resort also offers an 18-hole championship golf course overlooking Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter and Shem Creek. Known for its challenging waterfront finishing holes, the course is within minutes of the beaches at the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.
Patriots Point Resort is well acquainted with water lovers. Charleston Race Week is held here in the Spring, and sport fishing tournaments are throughout the season. Black and White photographs of previous tournament winners line the walls in the Reel Bar. A quick bike ride or shuttle from East Cooper Shuttle will transport you over to Shem Creek. For guests preferring to go into Charleston the Water Taxi leaves from Dock A hourly, dropping passengers at the Charleston Maritime Center, within walking distance of the Aquarium. Bikes and pets are welcome on the water taxi. Bring the camera for unique close ups of the hull of the U.S.S. Yorktown and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.
For accommodations overlooking Shem Creek, check into The Shem Creek Inn. The Inn offers a 10% discount for fishing charters booked with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters. Guests booking a fishing charter with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters receive a 10% discount on room rates. Captain Hiott’s fishing expertise for Red Drum is widely known, both with locals and worldwide. Featured on the Discovery Channel – Europe and in Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, Captain Hiott is highly recommended for finding the best inshore fishing hot spots, and also for his genuine interest in teaching others about the inshore waters around Charleston.
The abundance and experience of local fishermen here provides for the ultimate in fresh seafood. Mt. Pleasant Seafood operates a retail store here at the Creek and has a booth at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market. For fining out, patrons at the Water’s Edge Cabana Bar delight at the antics of the playful goodwill ambassadors of the Creek. Arriving daily at 4 pm, the male dolphin makes his appearance, followed by the rest of the pod. Look closely and you will see the baby swimming along with his mother. It’s as if these creatures have come to just to welcome guests to the area. It would be difficult not to be infused with wonder as one watches these beautiful beings fish for their supper. Working in conjunction with brown pelicans and seagulls, they dive for fish remains from the charter boats.
Sunsets are an event here. Several restaurants offer outdoor and creekside dining, allowing guests to experience the wonder of a brilliant Charleston sunset with the ubiquitous charm of a small fishing village. Enjoy the view from the outdoor bar and dining area at Vickery’s. Watch as the suns rays cast over the marsh as it spreads toward the mouth of the creek. Feel the gentle breezes from Charleston Harbor waft through the palmettos. Even during a storm, the view from the indoor bar is a magnificent way to watch the drama without dampening the spirit. From the indoor bar, one can see the shrimp boats, wings spread out and up as if they were water angels ready to fly.