Described as a fusion between history and food, Charleston can keep even the most energetic visitors busy for weeks. Due to the historical and artistic beauty of charming Charleston, many out-of-town vacationers overlook the beautiful stretches of beachy coastline nearby. If you are looking for some R&R in addition to culture, consider adding some beachside time to your Charleston itinerary. We’ve outlined a few highlights of each of the five closest beach towns to help you narrow down your choice. June and July are generally the most desirable times to visit, but to avoid crowds and still catch some warm weather, schedule your visit for late August or September.
And, of course, be sure to schedule a culinary tour as the perfect way to experience Charleston with a fusion of delicious, local food and fascinating history! You will experience memorable moments in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.
1. Sullivan’s Island: Quiet, historical and cozy (the entire beach is just over 3 miles), Sullivan Island is a treat for visitors. The water is fairly calm due to an offshore sandbar and there are plenty of tide pools to explore. It is also home to Fort Moultrie, a key defense during the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Right at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, this area saw plenty of action in defending the city over the years. Charming restaurants and vacation rentals make this beach an ideal place to rest and recharge.
2. Isle of Palms: Family friendly and larger than Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms sees plenty of visitors. With accessible shopping and restaurants nearby, beachgoers can also enjoy beach volleyball, bike rentals and live music.
3. Folly Beach: Home to a beautiful pier and white sands, Folly Beach has a bohemian, carefree atmosphere. This family-friendly beach is the closest to downtown Charleston and offers access to all kinds of water sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and some of the best surfing along the east coast.
4. Kiawah Island: Kiawah Island is known for pristine, natural beauty in the form of sand dunes, marshes and forests as well as a variety of animal life such as whitetail deer, alligators, bobcats, seabirds and sea turtles. Visitors can enjoy bike rentals, nature tours and fishing. Despite being ranked as one of the top beaches in the US, this beach generally plays host to smaller crowds.
5. Seabrook Island: A private beachfront community, Seabrook Island offers unspoiled beaches, golfing and horseback riding, but you must make special arrangements ahead of time to visit this quaint beach town.
Now that you have a location settled, let’s cover a few more tips to make your beach time as enjoyable as possible.
Comfortable seating can make a huge difference for a relaxing day at the beach. Check the local area you plan to visit. Often there are beach-side rental facilities that rent out chairs to save you the trouble of lugging your own to the beach. Of course there is always the beach towel in the sand option, which totally works! However, plan on bringing more towels than you think you will need. They always seem to come in handy. Another thing to consider is a shade source such as a canopy or beach umbrella.
2. Sun care
The warmth of the sun is part of the reason we head to the beach, however too much of that can quickly change your vacation plans. Layers and protective clothing are key as well as appropriately rated SPF waterproof sunscreen. Apply early (at least 30 minutes before going outside) and reapply every two hours, particularly directly following swimming. Keep in mind the water acts as a reflector and that the sun rays are at their most intense during the hours of 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Lastly, keep those UVA shades protecting your eyes!
A beach outing requires a certain amount of “stuff” such as extra clothing, food, beach toys, chairs and shade canopies etc. Consider a beach all-terrain wagon or cart to transport items to and from your beach spot. A large mesh bag is extremely helpful for beach toys. Several sizes of zippered plastic bags can help protect delicate items from sand and water and a large garbage bag is useful to collect and pack out rubbish. A large canvas or zippered bag (consider a diaper bag — they don’t just need to be used for baby supplies!) can tote your towels, jackets, hats, phones and reading material. And, an insider tip? Attach a small flotation device to your keys such as a cork. It’s worth it to save your keys from a watery grave.