11 Best Public Beaches in South Carolina: Folly, Myrtle & More
Welcome to the sun-kissed sands and rhythmic waves of South Carolina’s shores. Whether you’re a seasoned sandcastle architect, an adrenaline junkie eager to ride the ocean waves, or a tranquillity seeker on the lookout for a serene sunset spot, South Carolina’s coastline is sure to dazzle.
- Why South Carolina Beaches?
Best Beaches near South Carolina
- Folly Beach: The Edge of America
- Isle of Palms: An Oceanfront Oasis
- Myrtle Beach: The Grand Strand
- Hilton Head Island: Luxurious Relaxation
- Surfside Beach: The Family Beach
- Cherry Grove Beach: A Hidden Gem
- Edisto Beach: The Natural Retreat
- Sullivan’s Island: A Historical Haven
- Pawleys Island: A Lowcountry Favorite
- Daufuskie Island: A Secluded Paradise
- Seabrook Island: A Private Oasis
- Best Times to Visit South Carolina’s Beaches
With over 180 miles of idyllic beaches, each offering its unique charm, deciding which beach to visit might be a challenging endeavor. But fear not! We’ve curated this guide to help you navigate the best of what South Carolina’s coastline has to offer.
Why South Carolina Beaches?
So, why should you consider South Carolina for your next beach getaway? Well, there’s more to South Carolina’s beaches than just sand and sea. Each beach in this magnificent state brings with it its unique character, engaging history, abundant wildlife, and an array of recreational activities that cater to all types of beach-goers.
Have you ever walked on a beach with the historic grandeur set as its backdrop? Or perhaps you fancy a beach that’s buzzing with life, offering everything from vibrant local markets to thrilling water sports?
And let’s not forget about those hidden gems – tranquil and secluded beaches, where time seemingly stands still, allowing you to bask in the peace and quiet.
Best Beaches near South Carolina
Folly Beach: The Edge of America
First stop, Folly Beach. Often fondly referred to as the “Edge of America“, this scenic beach near Charleston is a blend of natural beauty and a lively beach scene that captures the heart of every visitor.
With six miles of sandy shores, Folly Beach is an absolute paradise for surfers. What’s more? It’s not just for the wave riders – there’s room for everyone here.
How about a leisurely walk along the Folly Beach Pier, one of the longest on the East Coast? Or perhaps a visit to the Morris Island Lighthouse, a symbol of Southern resilience and a relic of Folly Beach’s rich history?
Now imagine ending your day here, sitting back and watching the breathtaking sunset views at the Edge of America. Pure bliss.
Isle of Palms: An Oceanfront Oasis
Next up is the Isle of Palms, a tranquil, upscale island characterized by its gorgeous beachfront homes, luxurious resorts, and of course, its stunning beach.
Nestled just north of Charleston, Isle of Palms is a serene escape, perfect for families and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
The beach here is clean, spacious, and typically less crowded than some others, offering ample opportunities for sunbathing, beachcombing, and swimming.
But that’s not all. Beyond the beach, explore the Wild Dunes Resort for a round of golf, or the Isle of Palms County Park for some picnic fun. And let’s not forget about the island’s fabulous dining scene. How does fresh, locally-caught seafood sound?
Myrtle Beach: The Grand Strand
Now, let’s shift gears a bit and head to Myrtle Beach, affectionately known as the “Grand Strand“. A bustling hub of activity and entertainment, Myrtle Beach is one of South Carolina’s most visited beach destinations, and for a good reason.
With its 60 miles of sandy shores, it’s a hotspot for tourists seeking a blend of beach fun and vibrant nightlife. During the day, enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or building sandcastles.
Crave for some adventure? Try your hand at surfing, parasailing, or deep-sea fishing. As the sun sets, the city comes alive with bustling night markets, live music shows, and beachfront dining. It’s not just a beach – it’s a whole package!
Hilton Head Island: Luxurious Relaxation
Say hello to Hilton Head Island, a high-end resort town known for its pristine beaches, world-class golf courses, and upscale amenities. With 12 miles of sun-soaked coastline, Hilton Head offers the perfect escape for those in search of tranquility and luxury.
But the beach is just the beginning. Hilton Head Island is also home to more than 20 world-class golf courses, making it a golfer’s paradise. Prefer cycling? The island’s extensive biking trails offer an enjoyable way to explore its natural beauty.
And when you’re ready to wind down, indulge in some retail therapy at one of the island’s chic boutiques or savor a scrumptious meal at a beachfront restaurant. Hilton Head Island truly personifies the finer side of beach life.
Surfside Beach: The Family Beach
Welcome to Surfside Beach, fondly known as “The Family Beach.” This small seaside town south of Myrtle Beach provides the perfect backdrop for a family-friendly beach vacation. It’s quieter than its northern neighbor, but don’t mistake its calmness for dullness.
With two miles of sandy beaches, Surfside Beach offers an array of outdoor activities, including swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
Add to this the town’s wheelchair-accessible beachfront, designated entertainment zones for kids, and various family-friendly events held throughout the year, it’s not hard to see why families flock to Surfside Beach for their annual beach getaway.
Cherry Grove Beach: A Hidden Gem
Tucked away in North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove Beach is a hidden gem that boasts a slower pace of life and an abundance of natural beauty. This serene beach is famous for its fishing pier, but it’s the tranquility and small-town charm that truly set it apart.
Enjoy a leisurely day lounging on the beach, take a tranquil stroll along the Cherry Grove Pier, or cast a line to catch some fish.
For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the nearby Waites Island offers opportunities to spot local wildlife. Cherry Grove Beach is the perfect escape for those looking to unwind and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Edisto Beach: The Natural Retreat
Let’s sail off to Edisto Beach, where time slows down and nature takes center stage. This lowkey beach destination is tucked away from the usual hustle and bustle, making it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and those seeking solitude.
At Edisto Beach, you won’t find high-rise hotels or bustling attractions. Instead, you’re greeted with untouched beauty, rustic beach houses, and serenity that’s often hard to find.
Fancy a beachcombing adventure? The shores of Edisto Beach are a treasure trove of shells and fossils. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a loggerhead turtle during nesting season!
Sullivan’s Island: A Historical Haven
Just a stone’s throw from Charleston, Sullivan’s Island awaits. This beach is not only known for its peaceful ambiance and beautiful landscapes but also for its historical significance.
Stroll along its wide, sandy beaches, take a dip in the calm waters, or simply bask in the South Carolina sun.
But don’t stop there. Dive into history with a visit to Fort Moultrie, a key player in the American Revolutionary War, or the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, a unique, triangular-shaped beacon. With its blend of history and beachside relaxation, Sullivan’s Island offers an enriching beach experience.
Pawleys Island: A Lowcountry Favorite
Let’s explore Pawleys Island, one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast. This laid-back barrier island exudes a nostalgic charm that’s simply irresistible.
Pawleys Island is a haven for relaxation with its natural, uncommercialized beauty. Here, the soothing sounds of the waves and the rustling of the wind through the sea oats set the tone.
Be it fishing, crabbing, or kayaking in the surrounding creeks, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy Pawleys Island’s simple pleasures. And when the sun begins to set, nothing beats a leisurely swing on one of the island’s iconic rope hammocks.
Daufuskie Island: A Secluded Paradise
First up, let’s take a boat ride to Daufuskie Island, a car-free, secluded island that oozes rustic charm. Nestled between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Daufuskie Island offers a step back in time, where life moves at a slower pace.
The island is filled with unspoiled beaches, historic sites, and artisan shops, making it an idyllic place to unwind and unplug.
While here, enjoy the sandy beaches, take a horseback ride along the shore, or explore the island’s cultural history, which spans Native American, Gullah, and Civil War eras. If you’re longing for an escape from the typical tourist trails, Daufuskie Island could be your dream beach retreat.
Seabrook Island: A Private Oasis
Next on the list is Seabrook Island, a private, residential beachfront community that exudes a tranquil and luxurious vibe. This island is the epitome of South Carolina’s Lowcountry charm, offering pristine beaches, lush marshlands, and top-notch amenities.
Relax on the sandy beaches, venture out on a horseback beach ride, or indulge in some bird-watching — Seabrook Island promises a tranquil, nature-filled getaway. For golf enthusiasts, the island’s award-winning golf courses are a definite highlight. Seabrook Island is your go-to destination for a peaceful, luxurious beach vacation, away from the crowds.
Best Times to Visit South Carolina’s Beaches
Thinking about when to pack your bags and head to these glorious South Carolina beaches? While these beaches dazzle all year round, the best times to visit largely depend on what you’re after.
For warm weather and water, late spring to early fall (May through September) is ideal. These months offer prime beach conditions, though they also attract the most visitors.
Looking for less crowd and cooler temperatures? Consider a trip in the shoulder seasons of late spring (April to early June) and early fall (late September to October). Winter, while cooler, offers a tranquil escape, with sparse crowds and lower accommodation rates.
And there you have it – the ultimate guide to the best beaches in South Carolina. From Folly Beach’s surfing hotspots and the grandeur of Myrtle Beach, to the secluded serenity of Daufuskie Island and the bustling attractions of North Myrtle Beach, there’s a slice of sandy paradise for everyone in this vibrant southern state.