Your Guide to Charleston, South Carolina Beaches

So, you are planning your Charleston, South Carolina vacation. While you can spend all of your time (and then some) exploring all the sites downtown, you may find yourself needing some R&R. When it comes to the beaches in Charleston, each beach offers its own unique qualities and vibes. Here is our guide to Charleston, South Carolina Beaches.

Folly Beach



We are a bit impartial to Folly Beach, since Folly Beach is where we call home. If you are looking for the best surfing beach, Folly Beach has a longstanding reputation as THE the best location to surf in Charleston. Folly Beach is located 10 miles from downtown, east from James Island, between the Folly River and the Atlantic Ocean, accurately nicknamed, "The Edge of America". 

Folly Beach truly gives you that West Coast surf-beach vibe on the East Coast. There are so many great restaurants that line Center St, the main thoroughfare on Folly Beach. From tacos, to seafood, to even an Irish Pub, Folly Beach has it all!

Folly Beach is very family friendly, boasting a fishing pier, boat launch, County Park on the west end of island. Folly Beach is also home to numerous festivals for locals and visitors alike held throughout the year. Some of these festivals include the Polar Plunge (held every year on New Year's Day), Folly Gras (held during Mardi Gras), Follypalooza (annual fundraising festival), and the Sea and Sand Festival.

Isle of Palms

image Courtesy of Charleston CVB

image Courtesy of Charleston CVB

Isle of Palms is another family friendly beach. Located 12 miles from downtown, east of Mount Pleasant and north of Sullivan's Island. The beach features a County Park which includes picnic tables, a sand volleyball court, showers, and restrooms. The park also includes a large parking lot, but can often fill up during busy times.

Isle of Palms also has a fishing pier (which is privately accessed from the Sea Cabin Villas complex) and many shops and restaurants along its "Front Beach", most famously, the Windjammer. The Windjammer is a beach front bar with live music and sand volleyball courts.

Sullivan's Island

Image Courtesy of  Charleston CVB

Image Courtesy of Charleston CVB

If you are looking for a laid back beach where you can truly relax and recharge, then Sullivan's Island is the place for you. Sullivan's Island neighbors Isle of Palms, where Isle of Palms really draws in visitors, Sullivan's Island brings out the locals.

The Island is full of Revolutionary War history for all the history buffs out there. Sullivan's Island is home to Fort Moultrie, which was an active military base the 1947 and is famous for being the naval post of Edgar Allan Poe.  Additionally, you can find some of the most highly rated Charleston restaurants on Sullivan's Island include the famous Poe's Tavern (named for the poet), the Obstinate Daughter, and Home Team BBQ just to name a few. 

Kiawah Island

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

If you are looking for a more luxurious beach, Kiawah may be for you. With Kiawah Resort comprising much of the Island you can have the five-star resort experience at Kiawah. Luxury accommodations include The Sanctuary which is known for its exquisite restaurants and spa. Kiawah is also home to many renowned golf courses including the Ocean Course, which has played host to numerous professional golf tournaments including the PGA Championship.

Don't have the budget for five-star accommodations? Kiawah is also open to the public via Beachwalker Park, another county park similar to the parks on Isle of Palms and Folly Beach. Parking can fill up quickly during the summer, so it is advised to head out early if you are looking to spend the day on Kiawah. 

These aren't the only beaches in Charleston county, as Seabrook Island, Edisto Beach are also great to visit. Barrier islands—only accessible by ferry or private charter boat— such as Dewees. Goat, Capers and Bulls Islands expand Charleston's diverse beach offerings even more.


Peter MelhadoComment