Charleston’s Beaches

Charleston’s beaches usually are hundreds of yards wide at low tide and may only be a mere sliver during high tide. High tide and low tide are separated by 6 hours – be sure to check the tide charts. While the waters are usually calm, certain spots are known for their dangerous currents. These areas are very clearly marked. Normally the beaches do not have lifeguards, so swimming is at your own risk. It is unlawful to walk on the sand dunes, pick sea oats, drive on the beach and litter. While dogs are allowed on most beaches, they are required to be on leashes. Careful enforcement of these laws has allowed South Carolina beaches to remain clean and enjoyable so please respect the coastline.

Kiawah Island

About Kiawah Island: Bride’s Magazine named the Charleston area, highlightingKiawah Island, as one of the world’s best post-wedding destinations for honeymooning couples. Kiawah Island is also rated as having the “Second Most Romantic Beach in America” by National Geographic Traveler. Kiawah Island is unique among the barrier islands, unlike Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach, commercial development is virtually non-existent. This island was meticulously planned to be environmentally sound and very relaxing. A semi-tropical climate hosts alligators (often seen basking in the sun on the banks of Kiawah’s many lagoons), sea turtles, bobcats and some very friendly dolphins. Along with over 40 miles of bike trails, there are five world-class golf courses, several tennis courts, and 10 miles of the most beautiful beach on the Atlantic Coast! Other activities available on Kiawah Island include boating, sailing, surfing, parasailing, canoeing, kayaking, shelling, fishing, sightseeing and plenty of wildlife viewing.

Beachwalker County Park: The county park off Kiawah Island has restrooms, public parking and lifeguards. The boardwalk leading out to the beach is a beautiful walk. Kiawah Island is a privately owned 5-star resort. Access by guests is limited. Note: Worth your time – be sure to stop by the Angel Oak tree – it is the oldest living tree east of the Mississippi – you will drive past it once you turn left onto Bohicket near the Johns Island McDonalds – watch for signs on your right.

Directions: Approximately 30 minutes from downtown Charleston. Directions from downtown: Drive west down Broad Street for approximately 1 mile until you pass Colonial Lake on your right. At this point Broad Street will turn into Lockwood Drive. Continue on Lockwood and take the Hwy. 30 connector (a large bridge) over the Ashley River Bridge leading toward Folly Beach. At the end of Hwy. 30 turn right onto Folly Road. Travel north on Folly Road until you reach a large intersection with Nations Bank on the left. Turn left onto Maybank Highway. You will continue on Maybank Highway for approximately twenty minutes and will come to a large Piggly Wiggly shopping center on your left at the intersection of Maybank and Bohicket. At this light turn left onto Bohicket Road which will lead you to Kiawah after about 14 miles. Turn left from Bohicket onto the Kiawah Island Parkway. Just before the guardhouse to Kiawah, turn right and follow the road to the end. There you will find Beachwalker State Park (843) 768-2395.

Leash Laws: From March 15 to October 31, pets must be on a leash on the beach, between the areas of Beachwalker County Park and the Beach Club. At other times of the year pets must either be leashed or under voice command. “Under control” means in close proximity (within 20 yards) and able to be brought to immediate heel by voice command. Animals running loose may be turned over to Charleston County Animal Control. Clean up after pets and properly dispose of waste in trash receptacles on all areas of the island including the beach.

Sullivans Island

About Sullivans Island: Sullivans Island is a residential community located just north of downtown Charleston. At low tide, the beach is wide and the sand is soft. Be sure to see the Sullivans Island Lighthouse while you’re there!

Directions: Cross the Cooper River Bridge and bear right onto Coleman Blvd. Signs will direct you along Coleman Blvd. (which turns into Ben Sawyer Blvd.) and lead you over the Ben Sawyer bridge onto the island. The beach stretches for three miles along the Atlantic side of the island and is accessible by several clearly marked paths and walkways. There are no parking lots, but parking is allowed along the side of the streets. If a sign says “No Parking ” please respect it – people do live here and in addition to blocking their streets you will be incurring twenty dollar parking tickets. The real estate here is among the most expensive in Charleston and the locals treasure the small-town feel. There are no public facilities available nor are there lifeguards.

Leash Laws: From Nov. 1 thru March 31 dogs roam freely. Owners are encouraged to pick up dog droppings. Some stations, such as Station 22, have baggie dispensers. All residents and visitors bringing their dogs to the island must have their dog licensed. The dogs’ rabies vaccination must be current, and the rabies certificate must be presented at renewal unless it is already on file at Town Hall.
From March 31 thru Nov. 1, dogs may be on the beach without a leash from 5am – 10am provided the owner is near and the dog is under voice control. No dogs are allowed on the beach from 10am – 6pm. Dogs may be on the beach with a leash, no longer than 10 feet long, from 6pm – 5am.owners are required to carry a leash on them and/or control the dog with voice command. $100 violation if cited.

Folly Beach

About Folly Beach: Folly is but a short drive from Charleston but seems light years away. It is laid back and rustic, casual to the core. It has a long distinguished history dating to the 1600’s, and it played a major role in the Civil War. But Folly’s heyday is fairly recent – the 1930’s and 40’s. George Gershwin spent weeks there in the 30’s, when he helped compose Porgy and Bess. Cottages were springing up along its pine-strawed dunes in the 1920’s . (The name Folly, by the way, comes from an old English word meaning heavily wooded). Old-timers recall the Folly Pier, where famous singers entertained. Gone is the old pier and Atlantic Pavilion and a long fishing pier and hotel replace earlier attractions. Numerous old-fashioned cottages dot the strand. A renourished beach lures vacationers. There are good seafood restaurants and colorful bars. All in all, Folly is a beachcomber’s delight.

Directions: If you cross the Ashley River Bridges and follow Folly Road to the end, you will soon come to Folly Beach, located south of Charleston.

Leash Laws: Year-round leash law in effect on the beach. $500 fine if cited. Same goes for not picking up droppings. Leashed dogs are welcome year-round. From May 1 to Sept. 30, dogs are not allowed on the beach 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Isle of Palms

About Isle of Palms: In 1898, visitors to Isle of Palms came by way of water or a single railroad bridge. Originally opened as a recreational area for privileged parties at beach homes, this semi-tropical retreat, bordered by beautiful beaches and a network of marsh creeks, has lost none of its original charm. Test your skill at beach volleyball, bodysurfing, shrimping or crabbing. Wild Dunes Resort, a resort on the northern tip of the island, also features outstanding accommodations, golf, tennis, and a marina.

County Park: It is possible to park along the side of the streets on Isle of Palms and walk to a beach access path but we recommend going to the brand new Isle of Palms County Park (886-3863.) Located on Ocean Boulevard across from the connector, the park offers changing facilities, restrooms and other amenities.

Directions: Isle of Palms may be reached one of two ways. You may cross the Cooper River Bridge and drive straight ahead onto Hwy 17 N. Approximately 10 miles later, turn right onto the Isle of Palms Connector and follow it to the island. Alternatively, you may follow directions to Sullivans Island and, once on the island, take your second left onto Jasper Boulevard, which will lead you across Sullivans and over Breach Inlet to the Isle of Palms. Pay parking is available, as are several beachfront restaurants. On summer weekends The Windjammer (886-8596) offers volleyball, games, and music, along with food and beverages. Or walk along Ocean Boulevard and visit any one of the numerous sandwich shops. Isle of Palms offers a wide range of activities for all ages.

Leash Laws: Dogs are welcome on the beach year-round. Leash laws are in effect daily, except 5 a.m.-8 a.m. Dogs are expected to be under voice command of their owners during that time. If cited, fees range from $100-$500, depending upon the frequency of the violation by the dog and owner.

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