An excellent outfit for guided kayak tours is Coastal Expeditions (654 Serotina Ct., 843/881-4582, www.coastalexpeditions.com ), which also runs the only approved ferry service to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge . They’ll rent a kayak for roughly $50 a day. Coastal Expeditions also sells an outstanding kayaking/boating/fishing map of the area for about $12.
Barrier Island Eco Tours (50 41st Ave., 843/886-5000, www.nature-tours.com ) takes you up to the Cape Romain refuge out of Isle of Palms.
PaddleFish Kayaking (843/330-9777, www.paddlefishkayaking.com ) offers several kinds of kayaking tours (no experience necessary) and is quite accommodating in terms of scheduling them.
Another good tour operator is Nature Adventures Outfitters (1900 Iron Swamp Rd., 800/673-0679) out of Awendaw Island.
Closer to town, many kayakers put in at the Shem Creek Marina (526 Mill St., 843/884-3211, www.shemcreekmarina.com ) or the public Shem Creek Landing in Mount Pleasant. From there it’s a safe, easy paddle—sometimes with appearances by dolphins or manatee—to the Intracoastal Waterway. Some kayakers like to go from Shem Creek straight out into Charleston Harbor to Crab Bank Heritage Preserve, a prime birding island.
Another good place to put in is at Isle of Palms Marina (50 41st Ave., 843/886-0209) on Morgan Creek behind the Wild Dunes Resort, emptying into the Intracoastal Waterway.
Local company Half Moon Outfitters (280 King St., 843/853-0990; 425 Coleman Blvd., 843/881-9472, www.halfmoonoutfitters.com , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m.) sponsors an annual six-mile Giant Kayak Race at Isle of Palms Marina in late October, benefiting the Coastal Conservation League.
Behind Folly Beach  is an extensive network of waterways, including lots of areas that are great for camping and fishing. The Folly River Landing is just over the bridge to the island.
On Folly a good tour operator and rental house is OceanAir Sea Kayak (520 Folly Rd., 800/698-8718, www.seakayaksc.com ).