Folly Beach snorkeling: Can You Snorkel Folly Beach?

Folly Beach Snorkeling - South Carolina

Folly Beach in South Carolina is a wide expanse of sandy beach, which is not as visited by as many tourists as Myrtle Beach, but is great for many sports like boogie boarding and surfing when the surf is up. But if you love to snorkel, you may be wondering if there’s good snorkeling in Folly Beach too.

For snorkeling to to be any good, the water needs to be clear, plus there needs to be interesting things to see underwater to make it worthwhile. That’s why it’s important to understand whether there’s any good snorkeling in Folly Beach.

Folly Beach isn’t good for snorkeling, as the visibility is bad due to a murky thermocline which is caused by pluff mud, the agitation of water caused by wave action and large tidal swings. What adds to the murky water is the many rivers that feed into the sea, which makes snorkeling disappointing.

If you want to learn more about why the sea around South Carolina are not great from snorkeling, you may like to read this article about snorkeling in Myrtle Beach, which is about 170km (106 miles) north of Folly Beach. This article includes a quote from a local dive company about the pluff mud.

Map of Folly Beach

Looking at the map of Folly Beach below, you’ll see how the many river outlets that feed into Long Bay will impact on the water visibility for snorkeling inshore.

Folly Beach map with river mouths
Map of river mouths exiting into Long Bay near Folly Beach – Image courtesy of Google Maps

Can You Snorkel in Folly Beach?

You can snorkel on Folly Beach, as there’s nothing to stop you going in from the beach. But it’s not advisable, as the Atlantic Ocean around Folly Beach has limited visibility and can be dangerous for snorkelers due to changing tides and currents.

The best visibility underwater in South Carolina is 10-20 miles offshore, which would mean the depths are likely to be too deep for snorkeling.

What makes for good snorkeling?

  1. Interesting rocks to explore: Folly Beach is sand for miles offshore, which means there are no interesting rocks to explore.
  2. Coral reefs and fish: There are no coral reefs near Folly Beach to enjoy, which means there are also no reef fish either. This is unless you snorkel on one of the offshore artificial reefs, which include the Charleston Tug wreck, which has coral growths.
  3. Clear visibility: For snorkeling to be good, the visibility needs to be clear from the surface to the bottom so you can see the seabed. But as the visibility on Folly beach is bad you can’t see the bottom so the snorkeling will be disappointing.
  4. Shallow waters: To enjoy snorkeling off any beach, the depth of water needs to be shallow enough to ideally see the seabed. Whilst the waters off Folly Beach are shallow enough for snorkeling, it is the bad visibility that prevents you from seeing the seabed and is what will make it disappointing.

How might you snorkel at Folly Beach?

One option to snorkel Folly Beach is to go offshore on a dive trip where the wave action is less. However, the problem with this option is the depth will increase as you go further offshore, even as the visibility may get better.

Going further offshore from Folly Beach, the visibility does improve the further offshore you sail, but so does the depth increase.

Let’s say the visibility on Folly Beach is at best a few feet or worse, which is why it’s no good for snorkeling. But let’s also assume the visibility increases to 10 metres (33 feet) at say 5 miles offshore from Folly Beach. If the depth of the water 5 miles offshore is say 15 metres, the increase in visibility doesn’t help, as you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom, as the visibility is 5 metres (16 feet) short.

What is the visibility like offshore from Folly Beach for snorkeling?

If you are wondering what the visibility can be like in the Atlantic waters off the coast from Folly Beach, please watch the first video below. This video was was taken about on a dive from Charleston, South Carolina.

Are there Folly Beach snorkeling Tours

There are no specific snorkeling tours from Folly Beach, as the available tours focus on water sports on top of the water like SUPs and paddle boards, jet skis, and surfing. If you want to go snorkeling near Folly Beach, South Carolina this may be possible offshore, accessible only by boat.

You could try calling one of the dive companies, like Carolina Dive Locker, Charleston Scuba and One More Chance Scuba in Charleston, SC. All companies offer scuba diving, but none are likely to take snorkelers. Ask if they will take you snorkeling on a dive trip to dive sites like the Charleston Tug Wreck. They may tell you to save your money.

Scuba dive Folly Beach instead of snorkel

The solution to not being able to snorkel Folly Beach might be to become a scuba diver so you can enjoy dive sites like the Charleston Tug Wreck dive site and many others further offshore. You can read more in this article about scuba diving Myrtle Beach. The article includes details of some of the top dive sites and videos of diving with sharks. One video in this article shows divers visited by a great white shark too.

If you are interested to learn about if Folly Beach has sharks, please take a read of this article too: Does Folly Beach have sharks?

I started out as a snorkeler, which made switching to scuba diving very easy. Plus if you love snorkeling, there’s every chance you’ll also love scuba diving too. Scuba diving is more expensive, but it’s so much fun. I still remember my first time scuba diving even after 30+ years later, which as it happens was on the Great Barrier Reef, so quite memorable.

I hope you enjoyed this page about Folly Beach snorkeling

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about Folly Beach snorkeling), please comment below with your questions.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Folly Beach snorkeling: Can You Snorkel Folly Beach?

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