One of the absolute best parts about Charleston is the city’s proximity to so many beautiful beaches and seaside towns. Since beach season is just around the corner, I’m sharing a Guide to Charleston Beaches including the 5 main beaches that Charlestonians flock to every spring and summer.
If you are planning a trip to Charleston this spring or summer, then I highly recommend adding a beach day to your vacation. All the beaches are within easy driving access with Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island being the two closest. In my opinion, the windblown seagrass makes our southern beaches some of the prettiest in the county! I hope this guide will help you find a little sand between your toes on your next visit to Charleston.
Enjoy and happy Friday!
P.S. special thanks to my mom for the idea to write this post! xx
A Guide to Charleston Beaches
My favorite Charleston beach is Sullivan’s Island. I absolutely love the idyllic little sea island and I feel completely happy, inspired, and at peace when I’m there. The beaches are lined with blowing seagrass and dotted with big gorgeous coastal homes. We love to bring our dog out here during dog-friendly hours to play fetch for hours. Edwin and I are also known for hopping in our car an hour before sunset to head out to Sullivan’s for a long leisurely beach walk.
Sullivan’s Island is also home to one of my favorite Charleston restaurants, The Obstinate Daughter, as well as a few other yummy spots including Beardcat’s Sweet Shop (delicious gelato, ice cream sandwiches and more), Poe’s Tavern (burgers + fish tacos, named for one time local Edgar Allan Poe), and Home Team (bbq). More to note, anyone can go crabbing off Station 16’s community dock, Sullivan’s is a hub for kiteboarding, and you can explore historic Fort Moultrie (one of the oldest remaining forts on the Eastern Seaboard.
Edwin claims Folly Beach as his favorite Charleston beach… why? Because it is a bit of a surfer enclave. Folly beach, known as “the edge of America,” is the quintessential laid-back beach town with an eclectic community to back it up. Surfers, like Edwin, flock to The Washout to catch some of the best waves in the Charleston area. Folly Beach has the East Coast’s second longest pier. Which attracts lots of fisher’s and those who simply want to take in gorgeous ocean views. Local favorites to eat include Pier 101 (friend seafood, live music, and wrap-around views Folly) and Surf Bar (relaxed, beachy watering hole with live music and tasty food, and stiff drinks). Edwin and I love Jack of Cups (an eclectic casual eatery where everything is made completely from scratch), which our friends Brooke and Logan introduced us to!
Isle of Palms (IOP)
My family loves to spend a day out on the water fishing and Isle of Palms, nicknamed IOP, is always our starting off destination before we head out to reel in the catch of the day! If you want to fish while in Charleston, then I highly recommend googling fishing guides out of the IOP Marina. IOP is definitely a destination where families flock as the beaches are expansive (with kid-friendly ice cream shops and pizza joints dotting the beach), volleyball courts are always popular at The Windjammer, you can rent bikes and cruise along both the beach and the lush marshland, and there are tons of rentals for paddle board, kayaks, and more. It can be a bit family-friendly touristy though so be aware.
Kiawah Island is known for its golfing. It also boasts beautiful unspoiled coastal landscapes. Including 10 miles of lovely pristine beach, lush marsh views, and huge romantic live oak trees. Part of the beach is private and exclusive to home-owners but there’s plenty of public beach access too. Golf is a must, if you play! There are five courses that each have breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and more (p.s. there is tennis too!). Everything about Kiawah is elevated from the shopping at Freshfields Village to the spa at Kiawah to the dining at The Ocean Room. It’s a great place to go with families, for a romantic excursion away, or for an easy day trip.
Seabrook Island is the perfect quiet escape from Charleston. It is so pristine that it almost feels forgotten in the past in the most perfect way. The beautiful barrier island offers so much in the way of activities including horseback riding, bike riding along live oak tree lining streets, tennis at the Seabrook Island Racquet Club, al fresco surf and turf dining at Red’s Ice House, and more. Many people go to Seabrook for a full vacation while Charlestonians enjoy it for a lovely little day trip.
Photograph by Edwin Eversole