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About Us

About Barrier Island Eco Tours

Established in 1997, we offer naturalist-led boat excursions to Capers Island Preserve, one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands. We will cruise through winding tidal creeks to find diverse wildlife living in this salt marsh environment. Common sightings include bottlenose dolphin, loggerhead sea turtles, osprey, pelicans, herons, egrets, bald eagles, and more. Along the way, we employ various nets and traps for an up-close look at some of the creatures that thrive below the surface. As we arrive on the island, you are free to explore its pristine “bone-yard beach” and interior nature trails and freshwater ponds.

Our wide variety of trips include the Capers Island Wildlife Exploration, Sunset Dolphin Cruise, Blue Crabbing Excursion, Family Fun Day, Creek Fishing, and Marine Biology Camp. We also offer our 6, 16, 22, and 49-passenger boats for private charters. A customized excursion is an excellent choice for families, groups of friends, corporate groups, and wedding parties. You can even end your private trip with a beach-side cookout, Lowcountry boil, oyster roast, clam bake, or fish fry.

If you’re a teacher looking for a fun and educational hands-on field study for your students, we offer our Barrier Island/Salt Marsh Ecology Adventure for kindergarten through 12th grade!

The History

In the winter of 1997, three high school buddies, Shane Ziegler, Jose Hernandez, and Max Sparwasser, were roasting oysters over a cedar fire on Capers Island when the three of them came up with the idea of forming Barrier Island Eco Tours. The 23-year-olds had spent much of their youth boating the tidal creeks of the Charleston area fishing, shrimping, crabbing, and exploring the undeveloped barrier islands. They felt that visitors to Charleston were missing out on the best part of the Lowcountry, its undeveloped barrier islands and back creek salt marshes. They wanted to expose people to Capers Island and its surrounding salt marsh ecosystem, but in an informative way so guests left with a greater respect and appreciation of this remarkably unspoiled place.

In the summer of 1997, after receiving permission from the SCDNR to take visitors to Capers Island, Hernandez and Ziegler began the business taking groups on educational nature tours to Capers on a 6-passenger boat. In 1998, they bought the Callinectes, a Coast Guard Certified 40-passenger tour boat. The Barrier Island Eco Tour excursion boats now include two 49-passenger pontoon boats, a 16-passenger Carolina Skiff , and the 6-passenger bay boat.

Barrier Island Eco Tours is now owned and managed by Shane and his wife Morgan. The business is supported by an incredible staff of naturalists and captains, many of whom been employed for nearly 10 years or more. If you call us, you will most likely  be greeted by Ben Edwards, who has been involved in the business since 2002.