Among the many surefire ways to have a great vacation in Charleston is this pretty simple formula: just add water.
And we have plenty of it. These are our five world class beaches, all of which border a little water feature called the Atlantic Ocean.
Want an upscale family beach location with tide pools and good eats? Sullivan’s is for you. This barrier island north of the city boasts dog restrictions, a booze ban and special rules to protect nesting turtles. The lighthouse at Fort Moultrie stands sentry over the island while visitors enjoy lunch or happy hour at one of the many restaurants a block from the ocean.
Isle of Palms
Rent a condo at IOP, tucked between Sullivan’s and the mainland, and enjoy a mix of family beach fun and after-hours nightlife. Stroll through the mini-downtown on one end, play golf at Wild Dunes Resort on the other end, or swim and sunbathe away from the crowds in between. Isle of Palms County Park encompasses the main part of the beach and offers fun and amenities.
The Edge of America is where the Lowcountry’s hippies, fishermen and college students hang out, ride the waves and shop for surfboards. Downtown Folly does its best Santa Monica imitation with its laid back vibe while the Folly Beach fishing pier thrusts visitors and their fishing poles more than 1,000 feet into the Atlantic. Find aggressive waves at the Washout and visit the iconic Morris Island lighthouse. South of West Ashley and James Island, Folly is a great place to turn the heat up or down.
This exclusive enclave with its multi-million-dollar homes and celebrity part-time residents includes a county park and beach for the hoi polloi. Beachwalker Park is an 11-mile oasis of unspoiled oceanfront between the Bohicket River and the Atlantic 30 miles southwest of Charleston. A lovely drive beneath a canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss takes you there. Hang out in town for some lunch, but head back in time for the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever witness.
At the southern end of the Charleston area, Edisto Beach is the quietest and most remote. A great place to camp, swim and bike, or just do nothing, and more of it than anywhere else. A bike path winds through most of the town.