South Carolina is known for its subtropical beaches and sea islands, with 60 miles of coastline.
The largest city in South Carolina is Charleston, which has 5 specific beach towns and several undeveloped sea islands, all of them featuring excellent beaches.
If you want to know more about the beaches around Charleston and which ones are best to visit, keep reading. We have put together this guide to tell you everything that you need to know.
Kiawah Island has 10 miles of beaches – all of them beautiful and scenic. It is around a 45 minute drive from Downtown Charleston.
The landscape varies from classic coastal beach to marshes and sand dunes, which means there is plenty of wildlife to see while you explore the beaches. It is one of the least developed areas in Charleston, making it ideal for nature spotting.
You might spot bobcats, alligators, seat turtles, birds, and even some deer in the maritime forest.
Kiawah Island has a mixture of residential areas, a shopping village, a resort, and natural areas. There are plenty of things to do including fishing, hiking, golf, tennis and cycling.
You can browse the shops, dine in one of the restaurants, or just stroll along the beach and take in the stunning views.
A lot of the beaches on the island are privately owned by resorts and hotels.
Beachwalker Park is one of the best public places to enjoy the beauty of Kiawah Island white sandy beaches, but make sure you bring some money with you for the entry fee.
2. Folly Beach
Folly Beach is close to Downtown Charleston and is a popular spot with local families, surfers, and tourists, students and more. This means that it draws a varied crowd and has an exciting yet relaxed atmosphere.
Folly Beach has been described as the edge of America, because it is located on a Barrier Island. Stretching out from the beach are uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a great place to take part in water activities like surfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and sailing.
You can also fish off the pier. If you would rather stay on dry land, you can cycle along the beach to take in the views.
Photographers live to capture the beauty of the water and the sand, along with the people who are enjoying the beach.
There is a maritime forest to explore, as well as a historic lighthouse.
There are also plenty of places to get a bite to eat and relax with your friends and family – if you love seafood and classic grilled food then you will be in heaven!
This might be a popular area, but it has that small-town feel, with independent and unique shops to explore.
The beach on Sullivan’s Island is just over 3 miles long. It is close to the mouth of Charleston harbor and can get quite busy in the summer, but is fairly quiet off season.
It is a barrier island with public beach access and a historic lighthouse. People come to kayak, sail, fish, kiteboard and paddle board. It’s also a great spot for photography,
Though the beach is what draws people to Sullivan’s Island, it is the seafood that keeps them coming back! Freshly caught and perfectly prepared, people love the flavors and the textures on offer.
If you want to stay on Sullivan’s Island there are some great vacation rentals, each with its own unique charm.
Sullivan’s Island was used as the setting for one of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, The Gold Bug. It also has ties to Revolutionary War History with Fort Moultrie, and the lighthouse is a great feature.
You can take in the sights of Sullivan’s Island with a walk or a bike ride. Make sure you check the tide times to find the best time of day to see the sights.
Isle of Palms is only 12 miles away from downtown Charleston. It’s a family friendly place with picture perfect white sand beaches along the 6 miles of coastline.
There is plenty of parking, and there are public restrooms available which makes it a convenient area to spend the day.
There is plenty to do, including pier fishing, beach volleyball, golf, kayaking, sailing, tennis, surfing and paddle boarding.
Photographers find it a great place to take photographs of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean.
You can also take a refreshing dip in the sea or cycle around the island. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, especially during egg-laying season.
There are lots of great places to stay, including luxurious villa rentals. There are many amazing restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife.
During the day, you can browse the shops and go for a coffee. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family friendly resort, Isle Of Palms has it all.
It takes around 30 minutes to get to Seabrook Island from Downtown Charleston. One side of the island is along the Edisto River Shoreline and the other side has beaches that open up onto the Atlantic Ocean.
Some of the fanciest beach houses around Charleston are dotted along the 4 miles of beaches There aren’t as many amenities, which means it draws less crowds.
The beach tends to be used more by local residents, but visitors are welcome. You can bring your Kayak or your paddle board and get out onto the water, or relax and enjoy the sunset from the beach.
This is a great place to go out for a lovely dinner, with waterfront restaurants or private dining boat experiences. You can also enjoy the entertainment and watch live music.
The majority of Edisto Island is in Charleston, with only the Southern tip extending into Colleton County.
It is known for its amazing shrimp and has strong ties to Gullah culture. The gullah people came to the Low Country from West Africa and were enslaved in the rice plantations.
They were able to preserve their heritage and traditions more thoroughly than many other African American communities and the influence is still present on the Island today.
You can visit driftwood beach, check out the state park, or collect seashells at Jeremy’s inlet when the tide is low.
There are bike paths for cycling around the island, and you can fish or go paddle boarding to get out onto the water. You might also want to lay a round of golf on the course.
If you want to soak up a bit of history, head to Hutchinson House. This is the oldest house on the island, built in the late 19th Century, and has withstood many hurricanes.
This historic house is being preserved, and fundraising events are held on the island throughout the year to raise funds for its upkeep.
If you are looking for a beach that is more primitive and less developed, you need to head to Capers Island.
It can only be reached by boat – most people travel from Sullivan’s Island to get there – but experienced kayakers and canoers make their own way.
There is no development on Capers Island, it is natural and striking. It is a barrier island, and you can see the effect that hurricanes have had on the trees.
You can camp on the Island, and explore the natural trails. It is a great place for wildlife spotting and to get close to nature. Make sure you leave the Island as you found it and respect the area.
8. Bull Island
Bull Island is within a wildlife refuge and has 5000 acres of maritime forest. It can be accessed by ferry, and is a great place to go if you want to feel close to nature and you enjoy a more remote setting.
North Beach is a long expanse of sand, and Boneyard Beach is a little more treacherous as there are trees poking up from beneath the sand.
You get fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the opportunity to explore forest, creeks, and wetlands. You can swim in some of the creeks, where the water is very gentle.
Before You Go
Make sure you get the most out of your beach trip by preparing and doing your research.
- Transport – Some beaches are only accessible via boat. The more developed beach towns may have limited parking, so car-pooling is ideal. In peak seasons, the car parks can fill up very early in the day.
- Facilities – Check what facilities will be available such as restrooms, bins, restaurants, changing huts etc. Not all of the beaches have as many amenities as the most popular ones.
- Dining – There are some amazing restaurants situated along Charleston beaches or tucked away down the side streets of beach towns. Make sure you check in advance if you need to reserve a table to avoid disappointment.
These beaches are all close to Charleston and would make a fantastic day out or even a holiday destination.