Discover the Best Beaches in Charleston SC
Discover the Best Beaches in Charleston, SC: Charleston has beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. From lively beach towns to secluded barrier islands, the Charleston area offers some of the best beaches on the East Coast.
This guide covers the top beaches near Charleston and what makes each one special. We’ll also look at how far they are from downtown Charleston, other nearby attractions, and everything you need to know to plan the perfect beach day.
The Top Beaches In Charleston SC
Charleston has a diverse array of stunning beaches to suit every taste. Here are some of the best beaches that Charleston has to offer:
Known as the “Edge of America,” Folly Beach is one of the most popular beaches near Charleston. It is known for its funky small town charm and family-friendly shores. Check out the Folly Beach Pier, Taco Boy restaurant, and lively Center Street. The Folly Beach County Park has public restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and more amenities.
Isle of Palms
This gorgeous barrier island is home to miles of pristine beachfront. Relax at the Isle of Palms County Park and enjoy easy beach access. Isle of Palms Beach offers convenient public parking and is a short drive from Charleston. It’s a great place to spend a beach day.
Located just south of Charleston, this private island hideaway has over 3 miles of tranquil beaches. Explore the unspoiled maritime forest and local wildlife. Seabrook Island offers a secluded beach getaway.
Famously known for golf, Kiawah Island also boasts 10 miles of pristine beaches. Visit the public Beachwalker County Park for a beautiful beach day. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort also provides amazing recreation opportunities.
The secluded Edisto Beach is a quiet and pristine escape, with plenty of room to spread out on its uncrowded shores. Edisto Island offers a peaceful, undeveloped beach experience. Along Edisto Beach, relax at Boneyard Beach and hunt for interesting shells and shark teeth.
Just north of Charleston, Sullivan’s Island Beach offers gorgeous scenery with the towering Morris Island Lighthouse offshore. Enjoy street parking and beachfront restaurants.
Another boat-access-only island, uninhabited Capers Island, features beautiful sandy beaches with great shells and driftwood—Meander along the island’s salt marsh and tidal creeks.
Myrtle Beach: A Tourism Destination 90 minutes away
Just 1.5 hours from Charleston, Myrtle Beach is a popular beach town with great swimming, amusement rides, resorts with water parks, mini golf, and live music venues.
Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island
Part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the public Beachwalker Park offers a pristine beach, concessions, nature trails and more. With over 10 miles of beach, Kiawah Island has plenty of room to spread out.
For an isolated beach getaway, take a boat to Bulls Island and relax on its miles of pristine beach. Part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, it is an unspoiled barrier island.
With beaches ranging from lively towns to secluded island escapes, Charleston offers the perfect place for your ideal beach day.
What Makes These Beaches So Special
There are a few things that make Charleston’s beaches unique:
- The beaches are renowned for their soft, white sand and gentle surf – perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
- As barrier islands, many beaches offer tranquil creeks, tidal pools, and abundant wildlife like sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins.
- Iconic beach towns like Folly Beach and secluded island retreats near Charleston.
- The history and natural beauty combine to create a one-of-a-kind beach experience.
How Far Are the Beaches from Charleston?
One of the best things about these beaches is that they are all within close driving distance from downtown Charleston:
- Folly Beach: Only 12 miles from downtown Charleston
- Sullivan’s Island: Just north of the city next to the harbor
- Isle of Palms: A short and scenic drive over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from downtown
- Seabrook Island: Less than 30 minutes from Charleston by car
- Kiawah Island: Approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Charleston
- Edisto Beach: The farthest from downtown at approximately 50 miles
- Mount Pleasant Beaches: Just across the Cooper River bridges from downtown Charleston
Other Nearby Attractions
Charleston’s beaches also offer easy access to other attractions like:
- Other Nearby Attractions
- Charleston’s beaches also offer easy access to other attractions like:
- Historic downtown Charleston with museums, shops, tours, and restaurants
- Boating or kayaking in the harbor or Intracoastal Waterway
- Day trip to Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began
- Fishing from piers at Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island
- Sampling delicious seafood at local restaurants on Sullivan’s Island.
- Exploring the Civil War history at sites like Fort Moultrie
- Playing golf on Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s world-class golf courses
- Visiting Fort Wagner and other Civil War sites
- Taking a boat tour to Bull’s Island or the unspoiled Capers Island
Planning Your Beach Day in Charleston
When planning a beach day near Charleston, here are some tips:
- Pack sunscreen, towels, an umbrella, snacks, and water.
- Get there early to claim a good spot – many beaches can get crowded
- Look for beachfront parking or if streets allow parking
- Rent a beach chair and umbrella if needed
- Check tide schedules for the best swimming and beach walking.
- Enjoy lunch or dinner at a restaurant with an ocean view
- Consider visiting Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, or beaches at James Island County Park for quick and easy access to the beach without the crowds.
More About Charleston’s Fantastic Beaches
In addition to its historic downtown and southern charm, Charleston is equally famous for its stunning beaches. From lively beach towns to secluded island escapes, the Charleston area offers over 100 miles of scenic shoreline.
Charleston’s beaches are located along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. As a popular travel destination, millions visit Charleston’s shores yearly to enjoy the soft sand, gentle surf, and abundant recreation.
Some beaches, like Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, are full-fledged beach towns with vacation rentals, restaurants, shops and weekly festivals. Others, like Edisto Beach and Hunting Island State Park, offer a more secluded escape into nature.
Beach activities range from sunbathing and swimming to kayaking, fishing, and boating tours. Popular attractions like the South Carolina Aquarium offer the chance to discover local marine life. The Charleston Harbor provides front-row dolphin watching.
Many key historical sites relate to Charleston’s seaside location, such as Fort Sumter guarding the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Melting pot cuisine features fresh local seafood.
When planning a Charleston beach trip, you can choose between the amenities of developed beaches or the solitude of uninhabited islands only accessible by boat.
Public beach parks provide access to the coast for all to enjoy. Or connect with beaches in private residential areas or gated communities on islands like Kiawah.
Whether you seek a fun family vacation, outdoor adventure, seafood feast, or an escape into nature, the SC beaches around Charleston offer the full coastal experience.
Take a break from Charleston’s cobblestone streets to enjoy these treasured shores. Wade into the gentle surf, collect shells washed up along the tide line or watch shorebirds skim across the frothy waves.
Charleston provides the best of all worlds – history, culture, cuisine, and natural beauty along the stunning South Carolina coast.
With its prized beaches, Charleston offers the perfect blend of southern hospitality, rich history, and natural beauty along the Carolina coast. Take in the sand, sun, and surf at one of these top beaches near Charleston on your next visit.
FAQ About Charleston’s Beaches
Still, have questions about visiting Charleston’s beaches? Here are some commonly asked questions:
Are pets allowed on beaches?
Most beaches allow pets, usually during off-peak season. Folly Beach and Isle of Palms have designated pet-friendly areas year-round. Always check specific pet rules for each beach before visiting.
Which beach is best for families?
Isle of Palms and Folly Beach are generally considered the most family-friendly. They have gentle waves, nearby amenities, and entertainment options.
Where can I see dolphins in Charleston?
Dolphins frequently swim right off the beaches and in the harbor inlet. The best viewing spots are Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and Folly Beach.
What is the best beach for swimming?
Isle of Palms tends to have the calmest wave action for swimming. Edisto Beach and Kiawah Island also have gently sloping beaches perfect for a dip.
Charleston is a dream destination for any beach lover, with gorgeous beaches, charming beach towns, and secluded island retreats. Plan your perfect beach day in Charleston, whether you prefer a lively scene or peaceful escape. Soak up the sun, swim, enjoy water sports, and find your slice of paradise at one of Charleston’s top beaches.