If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, SC and need something a little out of the ordinary to do and satiate your adventurous family, we’ve got just the place at the Charleston Aqua Park! Kristina tried it out and has all the details for our readers. Media tickets were provided for this review but the opinion is completely that of the author.
I love anything adventurous as do my kids so when we had the opportunity to try out the floating obstacle course and first ever ropes course over water in the country at the Charleston Aqua Park, I was one hundred percent on board. My kids and I love to watch “American Ninja Warrior” and old re-runs of the hilarious show “Wipeout” so we wanted to see how good we’d be at anything remotely like either of those shows. Spoiler alert: we have a whole new respect for people who do obstacles over water and slide around on water obstacles!
So if you’re in the Charleston area or anywhere nearby and want something fun and unique to do over the summer months, the Charleston Aqua Park is your place.
For more info to help you plan your next trip to the low country, check out the Kidding Around Travel Guide to Charleston, SC: Things to Do, Where to Stay, and Places to Eat
About the Charleston Aqua Park
The park opened in 2019 on John’s Island, a short drive from downtown Charleston or about 3.5 hours from Greenville (hey, day trip and all), and sits on Trophy Lake, a totally landlocked lake free of alligators, according to the hands-on owner, Jessica. They even have a question about this on their website since I’d imagine everyone asks it. If you have any questions whatsoever, it’s probably answered on the website or Jessica can answer when you get there.
Charleston Aqua Park has the floating obstacle course, which has more than a dozen obstacles for guests to try their athletic prowess on. There is everything from monkey bars (I made it to maybe the third one), slides, balance beams, and lots of things to slide and jump on. I really thought the people on the show “Wipeout” – the one where you get to laugh at all the contestants falling over themselves on water obstacles – just weren’t that athletic or coordinated. I was so wrong. It’s really hard to stand straight up on these things, much less run. But it’s so fun!
There is also the new over-water ropes course, the only one of its kind in the country, next to the floating obstacle course. There are three levels – beginner, intermediate, and hard. I’m pretty sure I only made it through the beginner course since the harder ones, I gave up on since I was scared of slipping and falling – I just jumped into the water instead of falling. My kids were awesome at this though and loved it.
Charleston Aqua Park also has restrooms (port-o-potties), a concession stand that sells water and snacks, and plenty of seating and shade for people who don’t want to get wet but want to enjoy the spectacles. They also offer wakeboarding, stand up paddleboard rentals, and summer camps, which I’ll get to in a bit.
The Ropes Course
I really enjoy ropes courses and the challenges they present. However, I’ve never done one where I was not clipped into a harness! That was a new feeling here. It was quite fun though and the challenge of being free of harnesses while over water and trying to keep your balance was certainly a new thing.
With the ropes course, you need to wear closed toed shoes and like anything you do at the park, you have to wear a life jacket. You get 45 minutes on the course and I found the time to be plenty because let me tell you, it’s exhausting – all that climbing and concentration and falling and swimming.
To do the ropes course, kids must be at least 6 years old and 4 feet tall. Like I mentioned above, there are three levels: beginner, intermediate, and hard. I only made it through the beginner levels but my youngest daughter was tackling the hard obstacles when we were called in to end the session. I don’t even know how she did them.
The Aqua Park Floating Obstacle Course
My kids and I were so ready to tackle the floating obstacle course (remember, we love “Wipeout”!). You don’t need shoes for this but you do need a life jacket, which is provided by the park with your admission. We had such a blast running through the obstacles and trying not to slip and fall into the water, which we totally did multiple times.
The blow up obstacles are pretty sturdy but when a bunch of people start running and jumping, they do become harder to keep your balance on. Plus, there’s a giant water spray that makes the course even more slippery.
There are lifeguards stationed at both the obstacle course and the ropes course and before you can go on either, you have to go through a quick safety lesson review, which is really helpful. All the people in our groups were great though and no one was pushing or shoving or anything like that. We had a fantastic experience.
When you sign up for a slot on the floating obstacle course, you get 45 minutes on the course. I thought that was too long when I saw the course but it went by so fast. We were having so much fun and I had to take a breather a couple times because I was winded! Keeping your balance and running over and under the obstacles is tiring.
The water felt so awesome and was really warm so I was never too upset I fell in. Overall, we had such a fun time together at Charleston Aqua Park.
Summer Camp at the Charleston Aqua Park
Sometimes, on vacation, it would be nice to drop the kids off somewhere so the adults can go have lunch together, go shopping, visit a museum that kids may be bored at, or get a massage or drink or literally anything without the kids in tow. Well, here’s your opportunity, parents.
Charleston Aqua Park offers summer camps for kids every Tuesday and Thursday from June 7 – August 16, 2022. Kids will get to play on the obstacle courses, try paddleboarding and wakeboarding and all kinds of fun stuff on the water.
Camp is for kids ages 6-14 years old and you can choose either 9 am – Noon half day or 9 am – 3 pm full day where lunch is included. The cost is $60/half day and $100/full day per child. You can reserve it on the website.
Tips on Visiting the Charleston Aqua Park
- Like all entertainment facilities, you will have to sign a waiver to participate. I did this to myself and my kids the night before our slot so we could cruise on in and save time when we got there. If you can do this ahead of time, get it out of the way.
- Children must be age 6 or older to participate and must be able to swim.
- If you have a child that is too young there is a sandbox, picnic tables, and shade trees on the shore for spectators to watch the action. You can also swim in the lake in the little beach, just grab a life jacket.
- Life jackets are required, helmets and nose plugs are available for use if you ask.
- Everyone that works at the water park is a certified lifeguard and there will be one circling the obstacle course while people are present.
- Make sure you bring closed toed shoes if you’re doing the ropes course. If you forget them, the park sells water shoes for $12.
- You can’t book 45 minutes at both the aqua park and ropes course – it’s one or the other except on Happy Hour days in the afternoons (more info below on that).
- Bring sunscreen, a change of clothes, and water and snacks. You’ll need all of them.
Be sure to look at the Rules page on the website to get an idea of things you can and cannot do and who can/cannot participate.
Admission & Specials
Sessions are $18.90 per person for 45 minutes of access to either the obstacle course or the ropes course. You get a discount if you book them back to back.
Over the summer, don’t miss the Happy Hour specials every Wednesday and Friday from 4:30-6:30 pm. For $18, you get 45 minutes on the ropes course and 45 minutes on the floating obstacle course. What a great deal!
Charleston Aqua Park is open May through September. Follow them on their social media for the most up-to-date hours and specials.
The park is open daily Noon – 6 pm.
If you’re wondering what ages this park is great for, let me tell you that it’s perfect for any age (over 6 to participate on the courses). There were smaller kids, teens, and adults all enjoying both the ropes course and the floating obstacle course. As an adult, I had a blast and my kids (ages 11 and 7) said it was the highlight of our vacation!
More to do at Trophy Lakes
Trophy lakes also offers other activities that can be booked through the Pro-shop.
The 18 hole course can be accessed all day from dusk until dawn for $8 per person.
Slalom water skiing is offered for beginners and those wanting to improve their skills. Rates start at $84 a session not including equipment/boat rental or coaching if necessary.
You can rent a SUP to go out on the lake for $30 an hour or sign up for one of the SUP classes offered for $60 a person.
You can learn to wakeboard without the worry of being pulled by a boat. The aqua park has a pulley system and you can rent it out by the hour. All gear is provided as well as an instructor. New for 2022: You book one hour ($120) and can share with up to three friends or use the hour for yourself. Please book at least 24 hours in advance so that they can guarantee a cable operator.
Your family could spend the entire day having fun at Trophy Lakes if you bring a picnic lunch. This beautiful lake is great if you like exploring the places that locals like when you visit a place.
Charleston Aqua Park
3050 Marlin Road, Johns Island SC | 843.279.4520