Best Beaches in South Carolina for a Seaside Vacation
It may not be as famous as Florida or California, but South Carolina holds its own when it comes to beach vacations. With a long coast and numerous offshore islands, the Palmetto State provides fun in the sun throughout the year.
In the summer, you'll be able to swim in the water, which is cool enough to be refreshing but not cold. Unless you're into polar bear plunges, you probably won't venture underwater in the winter. But you can still enjoy the pleasant breeze and peaceful views of the Atlantic.
These are the best beaches in South Carolina.
Vacationing at Litchfield Beach
About 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, Litchfield gives you all the beauty of the Atlantic without the crowds. Yes, the beach is considerably smaller, but you'll be sharing it with fewer people.
There are no big resorts around here, just pretty cottages that add a beautiful backdrop to your time in the water. Still, you'll have plenty to keep you entertained, as water sports like kayaking and jet skiing are popular.
Vacationing at Sullivan's Island
Just a short ride from Charleston, Sullivan's Island is a popular day or weekend getaway for city dwellers. Free from the shadow of large resorts, this beach town exudes tranquility even during hot summer days when half of Charleston seems to come here.
Spend your time in the sun, walking to small locally owned restaurants and drinking cocktails with a view of the water.
8. Folly Beach
Where to stay: Regatta Inn
Vacationing at Folly Beach
Another beautiful island right outside of Charleston, Folly Beach offers soft sand, dunes and a scenic lighthouse. While crowded on the weekends and during summer, it's still a perfect place to escape the rush of city life.
Sea kayaking, paddleboarding and surfing are common pastimes. From late spring to early fall, you can also hop on a dolphin-watching cruise and see if luck allows you to witness the miracle of a pod jumping in the waves.
Vacationing at Pawleys Island
Pawleys Island has been a popular resort town for over a century but has managed to keep its quiet charm. Most people come here to enjoy the white sand of its beach, which at low tide is decorated by seashells of different shapes, sizes and colors.
Besides the beach, make time to visit the Pawleys Island Nature Park. However, skip the often recommended Pawleys Plantation, where people golf leisurely in a place that once exploited enslaved people. Hard pass.
Vacationing at Edisto Beach
A short pier stops right at the edge of the water in Edisto Beach, providing a nice vantage point of the ocean. Around it, you'll be greeted by small B&Bs, mom-and-pop shops and friendly people.
The Edisto Beach State Park provides access to the water as well as camping, relaxed nature trails and water sports equipment rentals.
Vacationing at Myrtle Beach
With 60 miles of sand, Myrtle Beach is by far South Carolina's most popular place for a dip in the ocean. Its long pier allows for beautiful sunrises (if you can wake up early enough), and its lengthy promenade takes you through shops, restaurants and bars.
A Ferris wheel provides carnival-like fun from morning until night and is guaranteed to keep kids busy when they want a break from the Atlantic. Should you come here if you want peace and quiet? Definitely not.
But if you want a family-friendly beach with lots of things to do, this is your place.
Vacationing at Kiawah Island
Ten miles of beaches await anyone who makes the short drive from Charleston to Kiawah Island. Besides the ocean, the island boasts woodlands, which offer vacationers diversity in landscape.
You can find both at Kiawah Beachwalker Park. As the name suggests, you'll be both beaching and walking. That sounds like a perfect vacation to us.
The park has a wide array of facilities like BBQ grills, showers and picnic areas, and is accessible for people with mobility issues.
3. Huntington Beach
Where to stay: Camp ground
Vacationing at Huntington Beach
There are plenty of quiet beach towns that contrast the buzz of Myrtle Beach. But if you want to get away from (almost) everything, there is no better place than Huntington Beach State Park. Protected from development, the nature preserve has a three-mile beach that remains untouched.
You'll also find pretty hiking trails, a boardwalk and biking paths. As you explore the area, you'll get a chance to see over 300 species of birds — including the pink roseate spoonbill — as well as crabs, mammals, and alligators.
Vacationing at Hilton Head Island
After Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head is the state's best-known beach. Long stretches of sand surround the island, so you can pick and choose the spots that best fit your needs. This is the kind of beach town where you'll want to spend at least a weekend — or if you can wing it, an entire week.
Rent a bike and ride it along the beach, or walk around Coligny Plaza eating ice cream and shopping for souvenirs. Whatever you do, bring a bathing suit with you, as the beach is never far away.
Vacationing at Isle of Palms
Arguably one of the best beach towns in all of the U.S., Isle of Palms is the Far & Wide pick for the best beach in South Carolina. Another place near Charleston, the island provides access to the city whenever you want a bit more movement but tranquility on its shores.
Front Beach is the most popular place to go into the sea. At the right times of the year, it's also a perfect spot to witness the miracle of sea turtles nesting. Don't skip doing a scenic sunset cruise, which will convince you of the beauty of South Carolina's shores.