What defines "Offshore" Fishing in Hilton Head?

For the more adventurous types, perhaps an Offshore Fishing Charter is what you're seeking for a fun time. Often referred to as "Deep Sea Fishing", these charters explore the ocean both near shore and out of sight.

To be fair, the terms "Offshore" and "Deep Sea" have very wide ranging applications, so we think it's important to clarify what these things generally mean in Hilton Head.

Important thing to remember: Your boat isn't taking off from the beach! You'll be running from a marina, down a creek/sound/etc before you actually venture into the ocean. Depending on the boat and location, this is typically several miles.

We're going to examine a few popular destinations:

White Water Reef
~3 miles offshore of Hilton Head's south end
within range of most 4 hour charters
While it's in the ocean, this is still "Inshore"

Hilton Head Reef (aka "Tire Reef")
50 ft deep
~12 miles off Hilton Head

Beaufort 45 Reef
45 ft deep (hence the name)

Betsy Ross Reef
~18 miles off Hilton Head
within range of 5-6+ hour charters
85 ft deep

Gulf Stream locations
~60-80 miles off Hilton Head
Requires 8-12 hour trips, depending on vessel and fishing time desired.

What really is "offshore fishing" then, in Hilton Head local terms?

It's important to clarify the specific locales of "offshore" fishing, because there is a massive difference between a nearshore reef like the Whitewater Reef (~3 miles offshore but usually termed inshore or nearshore), something further out like the Betsy Ross or Eagles Nest reefs, or true Gulf Stream offshore fishing (~60-80 miles)

Realistically, a half-day (4 hour) charter is going to venture at most just a few miles into the ocean. Most 4 hour charters in Hilton Head stay Inshore to maximize fishing time. Destinations will vary from one captain to another, with factors like boat, weather, and fishing activity all playing a part. Be sure to discuss any specific requests with your Captain at the time of booking to make sure you're expectations can be met.

Offshore Fishing Charters are typically 5-8+ hours, depending on destination and fishing targets. There are numerous artificial reefs, wrecks, and live bottom areas to fish in the 3-20 mile range offshore. Charter captains will typically need 5-6+ hours for these trips.

Most Offshore fishing in the Hilton Head area is in the near shore region (1-50 miles out) where the water is still relatively shallow, and many wrecks and other underwater features provide structure to attract fish. The deep blue / Gulf Stream fishing is quite a distance from Hilton Head harbors and marinas, so be prepared for a long journey for true Gulf Stream sport fishing. Unlike South Florida, where the deep is only a hop skip and jump offshore, you'll spend a good time burning fuel to go deep from the South Carolina Lowcountry.
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