What is your ideal day at the beach? A big umbrella and a good book? Boogie boarding and sand castles? Wading in the waves? Whether you are planning a day trip or a weeklong summer stay, the top beaches to visit in Charleston SC include these four easily accessible public beaches, each with its own unique scene and amenities. Locals tend to visit the beach closest to their home (for obvious reasons), which means the beaches often mirror the communities that border them, but no matter where you are staying in Charleston, you’re always just a few minutes from putting your toes in the sand.
Isle of Palms
Across the intercostal waterway from Mount Pleasant awaits Isle of Palms (lovingly referred to by locals as just “IOP”). Ocean Boulevard is home to a several local beachfront restaurants serving up tasty food with a view. With the Isle of Palms County Park offering convenient parking, beachfront lifeguards, public restrooms and other amenities, IOP is frequented by families of all sizes. And beyond lounging on the sand, you’ll find countless fishermen on the pier just waiting to reel in the catch of the day. Isle of Palms offers a lot for families to do and is one of the most popular beach destinations in Charleston.
Affectionately known by locals as “funky Folly” for its laid back vibes, Folly Beach offers a classic, casual beach experience. The iconic fishing pier, home to local eatery Pier 101, is the perfect place to take in the panoramic ocean views and look back at the island’s shore. The pier and surrounding beach are part of Folly Beach County Park, which offers amenities including lifeguard supervision, beach patrol, public restrooms, snack bar and equipment rentals (beach chair/umbrella, fishing tackle, etc.). A short way down the beach surfing hotspot ‘The Washout’ draws amateurs and pro’s alike with some of the best surf in the Carolina’s.
Though it is the smallest of Charleston’s area beaches, Sullivan’s Island beach is among the most pristine. Less frequented than other area beaches, it’s often uncrowded, ideal for morning walks on the beach, or picnics on the sand with views of the Ravenel Bridge. With nearly a dozen local restaurants right off the beach – from tacos and margaritas at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina or dinner at the eclectic Poe’s Tavern – it’s no wonder Sullivan’s is a favorite for local Charlestonians. The island is also home to Fort Moultrie and the iconic Sullivan’s Island lighthouse (commonly called “Charleston Light”), which has the distinction of being among the country’s most modern lighthouses. Fully operational, it serves not only to guide ships safely to shore but also as a reminder of Charleston’s role as a bustling seaport importing and exporting food, goods, and tourists daily.
Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island
A picturesque drive just south of downtown Charleston, Kiawah Island Beach is a tranquil and serene retreat complete with winding oak trees, marsh views, and coastal landscape. As Kiawah Island is a private, gated community, Beachwalker County Park is one of the best kept local secrets – it’s open to the public, with everything you need from lifeguards to changing rooms, showers, handicap access, and plenty of shade. If you’re heading out for a long walk on the beach, make sure you bring a bag or bucket to collect the many sand dollars you’ll find along the way.
Stay in luxury
Choose your favorite beach, or explore them all and discover a few of Charleston’s treasures and secrets along the way. Don’t forget to pack all the beach bag essentials for your fun day on the sand! Book a stay at any of our luxury vacation homes in the heart of Downtown Charleston or on Folly Beach, Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island and be that much closer to having your toes in the sand. The team at Luxury Simplified Retreats goes above and beyond to offer guests an outstanding experience with beautiful beach rentals and unparalleled concierge services. Browse our Experience Packages to consider making your trip especially unique, then sit back, relax, and leave all of the planning to us.