15 Top-Rated Beaches in South Carolina: Best Time To Visit
The Atlantic coast of South Carolina is a popular playground for travelers from all over the United States. Whether you are looking for a quiet beach or a destination with a variety of entertainment options, the beaches of South Carolina will not disappoint.
You can head to some well-known beach destinations, such as Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, or explore the surroundings and find secluded beaches with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Some tourists like pristine beaches for families with lifeguards and facilities, while others prefer unexplored destinations with little civilization.
Let’s take a look at some of the best beaches in South Carolina:
1. Folly Beach
One of South Carolina’s most famous beaches, Folly Beach is a popular destination for water sports such as surfing, canoeing, and boating. There are even several boat trips for those wishing to explore the picturesque surroundings.
Must-see attractions include Edwin S. Taylor’s Fishing Pier with its bustling local scenery and the Morris Island Lighthouse. One of the most popular activities of the residents of Folly Beach is fishing; the whole area is perfect for river, deep-sea, and molar fishing.
After spending a day at the beach, head to Center Street in this small seaside town with dozens of local restaurants, shops, and bars. For lodging options, vacationers generally stay in privately owned rental houses or villas.
2. Myrtle beach
The perfect place for a family vacation, Myrtle Beach consists of several long beaches filled with many tourists all year round. It is probably one of the most visited beaches in the state, and in summer, the water is pleasantly warm.
Water sports such as water skiing, rowing, scuba diving, surfing, and parasailing are popular. Along the beach, you will also find several places perfect for swimming.
Families with children will love the nearby Kingdom Amusement Park and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. If you plan on shopping in the area, Tanger Outlets and Barefoot Landing are easily accessible.
Along Kings Highway, you’ll find a variety of seafood buffet restaurants, but delicious local food can also be located on the 1.4-mile-long Myrtle Beach boardwalk. Myrtle Beach is known for its 50 mini-golf courses!
3. Island of palms
Located just a short drive from downtown Charleston, the Island of Palms can best be described as an upscale resort area, initially a recreation park for the rich and famous.
This perfect gateway is home to nearly 3,000 acres of beaches, parks, and homes. Expect to find dozens of luxury hotels, an extensive golf course, and a community of rental homes and condos located directly on the beach.
Front Beach is one of the most popular places in the area. It is perfect for activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. Head to County Park, and you’ll find a lovely family-friendly beach with amenities like restrooms and showers.
If you want to explore the Island, it is best to use a golf cart, but rent a moped or bicycle. There are many incredible festivals throughout the year, so visitors have many entertainment opportunities on the Isla de las Palmas.
4. Hilton’s head
Filled with pristine beaches and expansive parks, Hilton Head is one of the best vacation spots on the East Coast, totaling 12 miles of shoreline. The whole Island was built to accommodate tourists, so it is pretty easy to get from one place to another.
Many restaurants, bars, and family entertainment are easy to find, while water lovers can enjoy beach activities such as swimming, rowing, boating, sunbathing, fishing, and surfing.
In addition to relaxing on the beach, you can also play a few rounds of golf at Hilton Head’s dozens of fantastic golf courses. Shopaholics will be delighted to know that there are several shopping malls on the Island where you can find local stores.
If you are looking for a place to stay, the options are endless. You can stay in a rental house with a pool or book a room in a luxurious 5-star hotel. Note that you won’t find many hostels and other budget accommodation options here on Hilton Head.
5. Edisto Beach
Located in one of the state’s quieter seaside towns, Edisto Beach is possibly one of the last unmarketed spots in the area. It is a perfect destination for single travelers, families, and romantic honeymooners.
Expect to find great vacation rentals, super-fun attractions, and great restaurants. There is also plenty of space for camping, fishing, and golfing. Swimming is permitted at Edisto Beach, but you enter at your own risk as no lifeguard is here.
Head to the Fins Bar on the Old Quayside or visit the charming Whaley’s Store, popular with locals for dining.
Vacationers can also take a boat trip and enjoy spectacular shore views, while adventurous travelers can take a guided kayak tour or join a fishing excursion. If you enjoy hiking, Edisto Beach State Park is home to the Swamp Moss Nature Trail.
6. Sullivan’s Island
Sullivan Island is just a 20-minute drive from Charleston. It offers an ideal beach destination for families looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city while still spending a beautiful summer day on one of the beaches.
You won’t see any beachfront development here, and there are no restrooms or other beach facilities. Most of the coastline is preserved in its natural state and offers only simple activities like swimming or building sandcastles.
To find free street parking, it is recommended to arrive early in the morning.
7. Kiawah Island
Famous for its natural beauty, Kiawah Island is a short drive from downtown Charleston and attracts many tourists and locals. It is a popular beach destination for couples, families with children, and single travelers.
Some of the Island’s top attractions include enchanting maritime forests, preserved salt marshes, and rolling dunes. If you like to play golf, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is home to one of the best golf courses in South Carolina.
Unfortunately, there is only one public beach on Kiawah Island. It is located on the western end of the Island and offers only swimming as an activity. You will find restrooms, bars, outdoor showers, and lifeguards present during the summer season. Kiawah Island is also pet-friendly, as long as dogs are kept on a leash at all times.
Why not add the sandy Beachwalker Park to your places to visit here, which sits between the Bohicket River and the ocean.
8. Hunting Island State Park
Hunting Island State Park is located just an hour’s drive from Hilton Head and is home to one of the best family beaches in the state.
A 5000-acre park, including a great camping area, Hunting Island State Park is one of the quietest beaches in the region, offering many activities such as boating, fishing off the pier, visiting the only accessible lighthouse in Carolina from the South, and walking on various hiking trails.
If camping doesn’t excite you, you can always go to Beaufort and rent a Bed and Breakfast. Downtown Beaufort has pretty cobbled streets, several galleries, and clothing stores.
Head to the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park for breathtaking sunset views across the ocean or walk the Henry Robinson Boardwalk at Sands Beach.
9. Murrells Entrance
A historic fishing town located a short drive from Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet attracts many adventurous travelers, artists, and outdoor enthusiasts.
You won’t find many beach facilities here. Still, if you’re looking for a pleasant natural setting and want to get away from large crowds of tourists, Murrells Inlet should be on your list of places to visit during your South Carolina vacation.
There are several entertainment venues, shops, and restaurants in the center of this small town. You will also find several annual events to celebrate the holidays.
10. Seabrook Island
With a 4-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, Seabrook Island is divided into two main beaches. Pelican Beach is more popular with tourists due to its incredible sunset views, while North Beach also has its charms in dunes and excellent swimming conditions.
Some of the Island’s top attractions include a tennis court, a large equestrian center, and two championship golf courses.
Although Seabrook Island is a short drive from Charleston, it still maintains its natural beauty and tranquility.
11. Burkes Beach
Located near Chaplin Community Park on Hilton Head Island, Burkes Beach is one of the best family beaches in the state. The best way to get there is by bike, as paved and sandy trails lead to Burkes Beach. You won’t find restrooms on the beach, but there are several outdoor showers.
When you tire of all the beach activities, head over to the Chaplin Community Park, which features a children’s dog park and basketball court.
12. Mitchellville Beach Park
Another beach found on Hilton Head Island, Mitchellville Beach Park, is a family beach with plenty of free parking spots where the walk from the car to the sand only takes a couple of minutes.
Vacationers will find outdoor restrooms and showers on the beach, as well as a small picnic area. However, the water activities include only swimming and kayaking, but the soft sand is the perfect sandcastle-building material for children.
Make sure to get there early because the beach is crowded in the afternoon, especially on the weekends.
Surfside Beach, a long piece of white sand paradise, is one of the top family destinations in South Carolina. The beach is accessible from more than 30 points and has a long-popular promenade lined with bars, restaurants, and a fishing area.
Fishing is also available from the fishing pier, but unfortunately, 50 feet of it was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
Rental shops can be found here for comfortable beach chairs and umbrellas to get the shade needed, but water activities are straightforward, with just swimming a real option.
Several hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals are within a stone’s throw from the beach, making little effort to enjoy morning or evening walks on the sand. There are also a couple of great entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants in Surfside.
14). Litchfield beach
Litchfield Beach is located approximately half an hour from Myrtle Beach and offers a quiet location on the beach. Here, you can enjoy activities like kayaking, surfing, swimming, and fishing.
There are only a couple of access points to the beach, and parking is a bit tight, so be sure to get there sooner rather than later, or you’ll be looking for a parking spot for longer than you want.
This 1.5 mile-long stretch of white sand never gets crowded, even on weekends and during the summer months. If you are looking for a place to kick back, relax, and have some privacy, Litchfield Beach is the place to go.
15. Cherry Grove Beach
Located just between Little River and North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove Beach is a small but beautiful stretch of sand filled with exciting sites and things to do.
Explore the pier or have lunch and a drink at one of the charming local restaurants on the famous Strip.
One of the main activities here is fishing, and the Cherry Grove Pier has several catch records. Even if you don’t like fishing, it’s worth the trip to see the pros in action. You can also fish at the entrance to Cherry Grove.
Golf is also a popular pastime at Cherry Grove Beach. There are a few golf courses in the area, including Heather Glen and River Hills.
Frequently Asked Questions: Top-Rated Beaches in South Carolina
Does South Carolina have clear water beaches?
Kiawah Island is a coastal island off South Carolina, with 10 miles of pristine beaches, approximately 10,000 acres of natural woodlands and every amenity to meet the needs of the entire family.
Are there any white sand beaches in South Carolina?
An Underrated Getaway In South Carolina, Coligny Beach Park Has The Whitest, Most Pristine Sand. … Let’s take a look at this underrated beach: Coligny Beach Park on Hilton Head.
Which beach is better Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach?
On Myrtle Beach, you’ll find beautiful beaches as well as many entertainment options like the popular Broadway at the Beach with shops, entertainment, restaurants, bars, and more. On Hilton Head Island, the beach is a bit more accessible with most hotels and vacation rentals located close enough to walk to the beach.
Does North or South Carolina have better beaches?
With its warmer weather, South Carolina has a better year-round beach scene. White sand beaches are plentiful in both states, but SC has more communities near the coast. Myrtle Beach is an especially popular haven for the beach-bum, water sportsman, or leisurely soul.
Is Myrtle Beach or Charleston better?
If you are into history, culture, architecture, art, music, and a truly comfortable and friendly city, than Charleston is where you want to be. If being at a wide, superb beach with resort amenities and tons of golf is your thing, than Myrtle Beach is better. Charleston has the slight edge with restaurants.
Which is better Seaside or Rosemary beach?
The Seaside market has more variety but the Rosemary market has a great little restaurant as well as a nice selection of prepared salads and baked goods. I think the RB market has the edge because of the restaurant, pizza etc. It’s nice to have the option to buy produce at Seaside but the prices are sky-high.
Can you swim in South Carolina beaches?
The beaches are always open because South Carolina doesn’t close beaches for water quality but instead issues swim advisories. Visitors can still use the beaches to walk, collect shells or wade even if an advisory is posted, but should avoid swimming or swallowing water, said Tommy Crosby, DHEC spokesman.
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