Six Best South Carolina Beaches
Photo of Hilton Head Island by Lee Coursey on Flickr
With 10 miles of undisturbed Atlantic beach and five world-renowned golf courses, it's no wonder so many visitors come to Kiawah (pronounced KEE-a-wah) Island. Much of Kiawah Island is privately owned, but Beachwalker Park is open to the public and operated by Charleston County. Named for an Indian tribe, Kiawah is only 21 miles from historic Charleston and offers a variety of recreation and lodging accommodations. Canoe through marsh-lined creeks and waterways; play tennis at the two Kiawah tennis centers, ranked among the top tennis resorts in the U.S. With a variety of restaurants, shopping at the Straw Market and special children's programs, Kiawah Island is one of the best South Carolina beaches for family vacations.
If you've never visited Pawley's Island, you're missing out on one of the best kept secrets on the Atlantic Ocean. The island is a three-mile stretch of paradise with a long and storied past dating back to the early 1700's (there are still 12 residences in the historic district, which date from the late 1700's to the mid 1800's). Located 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Pawley's Island is known for its shoeless, carefree, laid-back lifestyle, which includes crabbing in the adjacent creeks, fishing, the stories of ghosts, the rope hammocks and the unspoiled, unsophisticated, casual, delightful stretch of wide beach and sand dunes. It is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by a salt marsh with an almost limitless supply of flounder, oysters, and crabs. It is one of the few unspoiled, non-commercial oceanfront communities remaining on the east coast of the United States.
Situated about 20 miles from Beaufort, South Carolina's most beautiful barrier island is the perfect haven for families and golfers alike. With two of the highest ranked golf courses in America and 3½ miles of uncrowded, unspoiled beaches, Fripp Island offers a beach experience you'll remember always. Renowned for its resort amenities and natural conservation, visitors will love the natural beauty of this South Carolina beach. More than 175 species of birds abound here. You'll see deer running free, porpoises swimming in the inlet and an occasional alligator sunning along the banks of the lakes and lagoons. Savannah is approximately a 75 minutes drive by car, while Charleston is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes away.
As one of the premier family and beach vacation destinations in the United States, Myrtle Beach, also known as the Grand Strand, offers an endless array of lodging options including resorts, hotels, beach homes, vacation rentals and campground. The Myrtle Beach area showcases 60 miles of beach, the perfect gateway to the sparkling Atlantic. Whether you prefer boating, fishing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, parasailing, or windsurfing, the area's crystal blue waters provide the perfect playground. Myrtle Beach weather offers mild winters and bearable summer temperatures with an average high of 57° in the coldest month of January, and an average high of 90° in the hottest month of July.
Hilton Head Island
Named as one of the top ten family beaches in the country, Hilton Head Island is the perfect South Carolina beach destination for a family vacation or getaway. The island may only be 12 miles by 5 miles wide, but features more than 250 restaurants, 24 golf courses 200 stores and outlets. All of the beaches on Hilton Head Island are public, from the ocean to the high water mark. Access to the beach, however, is often private. Restrooms, changing areas, sand showers and vending are available at the beach parks.
Nestled between the Folly River and the Atlantic Ocean, just fifteen minutes from downtown Charleston, the barrier island of Folly Beach truly offers you the best of both worlds. Locals refer to this charming South Carolina beach town as the "Edge of America." The eastern tip of the islands affords outstanding views of the Morris Island Lighthouse from one of its three county parks. Visitors may catch sight of loggerhead turtles nesting, dolphins playing and see bald eagles soaring in the sky. Folly is home to many endangered species and islanders do their part in protecting and encouraging their continued success. Folly Beach's surfing is some of the best on the east coast and Folly hosts a number of surf events throughout the year.