10 of The Best Charleston SC Beaches for a Sunny Escape!
Charleston South Carolina is known for its coastal Southern charm and historical architecture but did you know the beaches near Charleston, South Carolina are worth a visit as well?
Get ready to explore some of the most stunning beaches near Charleston, SC! The beautiful coastlines and pristine shores are perfect for a relaxing vacation or a fun-filled day trip. With so many Charleston SC beaches to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one to visit.
To help you find the perfect beach for your next adventure, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Charleston SC beaches, complete with details on their unique features, distance from downtown Charleston, and available activities. So, grab your sunscreen, pack a towel, and let’s dive into the mesmerizing world of Charleston SC beaches!
Table of Contents
- 1. Folly Beach: The Eclectic Beach Community
- Folly Beach: Overall Most Popular
- Surf and Relaxation at Folly Beach
- 2. Sullivan’s Island Beach: The Charming Barrier Island
- Sullivan’s Island Beach: Most Charming
- History and Dining at Sullivan’s Island Beach
- 3. Isle of Palms Beach: A Family-Friendly Paradise
- Isle of Palms Beach: Popular with Families
- Activities and Amenities at Isle of Palms Beach
- 4. Kiawah Island Beach: A Tranquil Retreat
- Kiawah Island Beach: Least Crowded
- Access and Activities at Kiawah Island Beach
- 5. Seabrook Island Beach: An Exclusive Getaway
- Seabrook Island Beach: Gated and Private
- A Sanctuary for Nature Lovers
- 6. Edisto Island Beach: A Pristine Escape
- Edisto Beach: Most Pristine Beach
- Activities and Adventure at Edisto Island Beach
- 7. Bulls Island: A Wild and Untouched Paradise
- Bulls Island: A Natural Sanctuary
- Boneyard Beach and Wildlife on Bulls Island
- 8. Morris Island: A Picturesque Island Retreat
- Morris Island: A Secluded Treasure
- Photography and Wildlife at Morris Island
- 9. Pawleys Island: A Serene Barrier Island
- Pawleys Island: A Relaxing Oasis
- Surfing and Adventure at Pawleys Island
- 10. Capers Island: An Undeveloped Gem
- Capers Island: A Natural Wonderland
- A Perfect Getaway at Capers Island
1. Folly Beach: The Eclectic Beach Community
How far is Charleston from Folly Beach?
Located just 12 miles and a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is the closest beach town to the city. This eclectic beach community is popular among surfers, college students, and vacationers alike.
Folly Beach: Overall Most Popular
With approximately six miles of shoreline, Folly Beach offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Take a leisurely stroll along the beach, hunt for seashells, or watch a breathtaking sunset from the fishing pier.
Folly Beach is an oceanfront community known as the “Edge of America” and is home to the East Coast’s second-largest fishing pier and some of the best waves on the South Carolina coast.
Surf and Relaxation at Folly Beach
Serious surfers will love “The Washout,” a stretch of coast known for its exceptional waves. After a day of riding the waves, unwind at one of the many colorful and funky restaurants and bars along Center Street, such as Taco Boy and Rita’s Seaside Grille.
2. Sullivan’s Island Beach: The Charming Barrier Island
How far is Charleston from Sullivan’s Island Beach?
Sullivan’s Island Beach is a popular beach, only 9 miles and about an hour and a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston, making it a convenient option for a beach getaway.
Sullivan’s Island Beach: Most Charming
This 3-mile-long barrier island boasts a charming and laid-back atmosphere, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The private beachfront community on the northern tip of Sullivan’s Island is the least commercialized of the area’s beaches and is home to the unique Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. Free parking is available along the streets leading up to the bridge.
History and Dining at Sullivan’s Island Beach
Sullivan’s Island is also rich in history, with a Revolutionary War fort and the iconic lighthouse adding to its appeal. And if you’re feeling peckish after a day on the white sand beaches, indulge in a delicious burger at Poe’s Tavern on Middle Street.
3. Isle of Palms Beach: A Family-Friendly Paradise
How far is Charleston from Isle of Palms Beach?
Isle of Palms Beach is 17 miles and a 40-minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Isle of Palms Beach: Popular with Families
This relaxing beach community is located just 12 miles from downtown Charleston and offers 6 miles of pristine coastline.
Isle of Palms is the perfect spot for a family vacation, with public restrooms, available parking, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops nearby.
Activities and Amenities at Isle of Palms Beach
The island also features a county park, a fishing pier, and a sand volleyball court, ensuring that there is no shortage of fun activities for the whole family. Paddle the intercoastal waterway from Isle of Palms, where you may encounter dolphins and explore the hidden coves and marshes.
4. Kiawah Island Beach: A Tranquil Retreat
How far is Charleston from Kiawah Island Beach?
Kiawah Island Beach is 28 miles and a 50-minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Kiawah Island Beach: Least Crowded
Kiawah Island is one of the least developed and natural beaches in the area, boasting 10 miles of white sand beaches and preserved maritime forests and marshes.
The tranquil atmosphere and stunning scenery make it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the crowds and reconnect with nature.
Access and Activities at Kiawah Island Beach
The only public beach access on Kiawah Island is located at the county park, Beachwalker Park, which is well worth the visit. If you’re looking to stay on the island, consider renting a house or villa or booking a stay at the Sanctuary, the kiawah island itself’s luxurious oceanfront hotel.
5. Seabrook Island Beach: An Exclusive Getaway
How far is Charleston from Seabrook Island Beach?
Seabrook Island Beach is 25 miles and a 45-minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Seabrook Island Beach: Gated and Private
Seabrook Island is a private beachfront community just thirty minutes from downtown Charleston.
This exclusive island, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Edisto River, boasts nearly four miles of the widest beaches in South Carolina.
A Sanctuary for Nature Lovers
As an Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary, Seabrook Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including foxes, bobcats, deer, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.
Access to the private island that’s nearly 4 miles of unspoiled beaches is private to residents and rental guests only, so be sure to book your stay in advance.
6. Edisto Island Beach: A Pristine Escape
How far is Charleston from Edisto Island Beach?
Edisto Island Beach is 45 miles and a 1-hour drive from downtown Charleston.
Edisto Beach: Most Pristine Beach
Edisto Beach is one of the few non-commercialized beaches left in South Carolina. The 4.5 miles of pristine beach are usually less crowded than other beaches in the area, making it an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.
Activities and Adventure at Edisto Island Beach
Visitors can enjoy swimming, hunting for shells and sharks’ teeth, or fishing at Edisto Beach State Park. After a day of outdoor adventure, dine on sumptuous seafood at Waterfront Restaurant or savor tasty tacos at McConkey’s Jungle Shack.
7. Bulls Island: A Wild and Untouched Paradise
How far is Charleston from Bulls Island?
Bulls Island is 45 minutes away from downtown Charleston and is only accessible by ferry.
Bulls Island: A Natural Sanctuary
This untouched barrier island offers a truly unique and wild beach experience. A guided paddling tour is the perfect way to explore the island’s diverse ecosystem, observe the abundant birdlife, and perhaps even spot a playful dolphin.
Boneyard Beach and Wildlife on Bulls Island
Bulls Island is home to the awe-inspiring Boneyard Beach, where a forest is being reclaimed by the sea. You can also track foxes, bobcats, and deer as you wander through the island’s untouched island landscape.
8. Morris Island: A Picturesque Island Retreat
How far is Charleston from Morris Island?
Morris Island is just minutes from Charleston and is only accessible by boat.
Morris Island: A Secluded Treasure
Hunt for shells and fossils near the candy cane-striped lighthouse on this uninhabited island. Visitors can choose from several tour options, with boat tours including a 55-foot power catamaran for the more adventurous traveler.
Photography and Wildlife at Morris Island
Photography enthusiasts can capture stunning views of the lighthouse from the shores of Folly Beach. Morris Island offers a peaceful and secluded escape from the bustling city life of Charleston.
9. Pawleys Island: A Serene Barrier Island
How far is Charleston from Pawleys Island?
Pawleys Island is a bit further from Charleston compared to other beaches but is still worth the drive.
Pawleys Island: A Relaxing Oasis
This coastal barrier island offers a slow-paced atmosphere and packs a lot into its four-mile stretch. Explore the salt marsh that separates the island from the mainland in a canoe or kayak, or settle in for a day at the public beach, with shelling, fishing, and crabbing opportunities. This is one of South Carolina’s great family friendly beaches near charleston sc.
Surfing and Adventure at Pawleys Island
Sign up for surfing lessons near Pawleys Island Pier and ride some of the best waves in the area.
10. Capers Island: An Undeveloped Gem
How far is Charleston from Capers Island?
Capers Island is located a short distance from Charleston and is only accessible by chartered, boat ride or kayak.
Capers Island: A Natural Wonderland
This undeveloped island is home to a diverse ecosystem and offers unique experiences for nature lovers. Walk along the beach and discover tide pools, hike the island to see gators and deer in their natural habitat, or paddle along the shores to observe jellyfish and crabs. This might be your new favorite best beach!
A Perfect Getaway at Capers Island
With its untouched beauty, pristine beaches and serene atmosphere, Capers Island is the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.
The best Charleston SC beaches offer a wide variety of experiences and activities for all types of travelers. Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly getaway, a tranquil retreat, or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, the beaches near Charleston have something for everyone.
So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to explore the beautiful Charleston SC beaches and create unforgettable memories!
Do you have any other Charleston SC beaches we missed you think we should add to the list?