South Carolina beaches make even non-beach goers fans of the beach.
Spoken from person experience.
Beaches in South Carolina feature some of the clearest water on the East Coast. The sweeping views of sand and surf are worth a visit anytime of year. And South Carolina Lowcountry locals fight to keep it that way. Locals may not approve of all environmental measures. And yet they strongly support any measures and protections that keep the local water and beaches as pristine as they are.
South Carolina beaches are a treasure trove of diverse experiences. They offer unique activities, stunning views, and a rich history. Ready to embark on a coastal adventure unlike any other? Let’s dive into the best beaches in South Carolina. Along the way, we’ll discover:
- The hidden gems
- Thrilling water sports
- Luxurious resorts
- And fascinating historical sites that await
Table of Contents
Top 5 South Carolina Beaches for Families
South Carolina is home to some of the most family-friendly beaches on the East Coast. These top 5 South Carolina beaches offer unforgettable memories for families of all ages.
Each beach lining the coast from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head Island offers a unique beach vibe. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the sun or an adventure-filled weekend, we’ve got you covered.
Myrtle Beach is the ultimate family destination, offering an abundance of activities both on and off the shore. Along its 60 miles of sandy coastline, known as the Grand Strand, you can enjoy surfing, scuba diving, and building sandcastles under the warm sun.
Don’t miss the famous Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. It hosts tasty local eats and exciting attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium and Family Kingdom Amusement Park. After a day of fun, unwind at one of the many beachfront resorts, perfect for relaxing with the entire family.
Hilton Head Island
Looking for a peaceful and uncrowded beach getaway? Hilton Head Island is an ideal choice for families seeking a serene setting amidst the Lowcountry’s natural beauty. With:
- Pristine beaches
- Organized metered parking
- And outdoor showers
This island offers a relaxing atmosphere that’s perfect for an intimate summer vacation.
Families can enjoy:
- And sunbathing
At beaches like Burkes Beach and Coligny Beach Park.
Don’t forget to explore the island’s championship golf courses if you’re into that sort of thing. And indulging in the delicious local cuisine at the many nearby restaurants is another highlight.
Isle of Palms
Discover the breathtaking beauty of Isle of Palms, known for its convenient public parking and easy beach access. This family-friendly beach offers a wide range of activities. Top hits are sea kayak tours, sunset cruises, fishing, surfing, paddleboarding, tennis, golf, and festivals.
With its white sand and lush maritime forest, Isle of Palms is a true paradise for families seeking a memorable beach experience.
Safety and fun come together at Surfside Beach. Its kid-friendly atmosphere garnered it the title, the “Family Beach”. From kite flying to building sandcastles, this beach offers a variety of activities for children and adults alike.
The nearby fishing pier is a popular spot for anglers. Meanwhile, beach-accessible wheelchairs ensure everyone can enjoy the surf and sand. With plenty of nearby hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals, Surfside Beach is an excellent choice for a family vacation.
Escape the hustle and bustle at Edisto Beach, a charming and picturesque destination with a peaceful atmosphere. Stretching over 4.5 miles of untouched coastline, this beach is perfect for families seeking a more rustic beach vacation.
Enjoy swimming, kayaking, fishing, and nature walks at Edisto Beach State Park. And don’t miss the chance to spot dolphins frolicking on the tidal coastline.
Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Beaches in South Carolina
Venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems of South Carolina’s coastline. These lesser-known beaches offer:
- Stunning views
- Pristine sands
- And plenty of outdoor activities
For those willing to explore a little off the beaten path.
And, considering their lower levels of fame, much smaller crowds.
Escape the bustling boardwalks of Myrtle Beach to the secluded shores of Hunting Island. South Carolina’s coast has something for everyone.
These all require a short drive, though, so make sure you’ve got a car lined-up.
Litchfield Beach, known for its calm atmosphere and clear waters, offers a peaceful escape from the crowds of Myrtle Beach. Enjoy kayaking, surfing, swimming, and fishing along the peaceful shoreline, or simply relax and soak up the sun on the sandy beach.
For a truly unforgettable experience, arrive early to secure a quiet spot. Then, witness the breathtaking sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
A picturesque retreat awaits you at Pawleys Island, with panoramic views of the famous creek and plenty of outdoor activities. Explore the ten amazing golf courses nearby, go boating, kayaking, and canoeing through the marshes, or try your hand at surfing the waves.
Indulge in delicious meals at local restaurants like:
- Bistro 217
- Chive Blossom
- And Perrone’s
And unwind at the end of the day in cozy vacation rentals.
Hunting Island State Park
Experience the call of the wild at this beach. This 5,000-acre barrier island teems with diverse wildlife. Some of the most common sightings are of loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, and over 300 species of birds. Aside from the beach, take a tour to St. Phillips Island, or book a Dolphin Watching Cruise. Don’t forget to explore the island’s 130-foot-tall lighthouse, nature center, and visitor center.
With miles of:
- Pristine beaches
- Lush marshes
- And woodland habitats
This seaside state park offers a one-of-a-kind adventure.
Seabrook Island is a private, gated community. Smart development has preserved its peacefulness and breathtaking landscapes. Enjoy horseback riding, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, and biking. Or simply relax on the sandy shores and take in the stunning tidal coastline.
The unique charm of Seabrook Island is discovering where nature and luxury coexist in harmony.
The secluded paradise of Daufuskie Island is an isolated gem only accessible by boat. This isolated haven offers a range of activities. Options range from swimming and sunbathing to exploring the island’s rich history and culture. You’ll spot dolphins frolicking near the shore. The serene atmosphere of this enchanting South Carolina treasure will envelope you.
The difficulty in getting here adds to the charm of the island. It’s one of the last South Carolina barrier islands that hasn’t been developed.
Adventure Awaits: Water Sports and Activities on the South Carolina Coast
Get ready for thrilling water sports and activities at these South Carolina beaches. They’re perfect for adrenaline- and adventure-seekers. From jet skiing to parasailing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. With miles of coastline and plenty of sunshine, you’ll be sure to find the perfect spot for your next beach vacation.
Also known as the “Edge of America,” Folly Beach offers an array of water sports and activities. Surf the waves, kayak through Folly Beach County Park, or try your hand at paddleboarding along the shoreline.
Explore the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier, and don’t forget to enjoy the nightlife at the local bars and restaurants.
Folly island has a laidback beach vibe is worth a visit in and of itself.
Discover the excitement of water sports and activities at Kiawah Island. Here, you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, play a round of golf on championship courses, and browse the local food markets.
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kiawah Island while enjoying the thrill of outdoor adventures.
North Myrtle Beach
Experience the excitement of water sports and activities at North Myrtle Beach. Here, you can surf, kayak, fish, and even spot dolphins swimming near the shore.
While Myrtle Beach has a certain reputation, North Myrtle Beach prides itself on being a more high-end retreat.
Sullivan’s Island may be known for its natural beauty and placid setting, but it also offers a variety of water sports and activities. Enjoy simple pleasures like swimming and building sandcastles, or rent a jet ski or surfboard for a more thrilling adventure.
With its unspoiled coastline and relaxed atmosphere, Sullivan’s Island is a hidden gem.
Coligny Beach, Hilton Head
At Coligny Beach in Hilton Head, water sports and activities abound. It’s a spot for adventure and excitement for the whole family. Try surfing, kayaking, fishing, or even spotting dolphins as they play in the waves.
With its beautiful sandy beach, Coligny Beach is the perfect spot for an action-packed day on the water.
Wildlife Encounters: Experience Nature at South Carolina Beaches
Looking to encounter diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes on your beach vacation? Then checkout these South Carolina beaches.
The beaches offer a variety of activities, from swimming and sunbathing to fishing and kayaking. You can also explore the nearby trails and take in the stunning views of the ocean.
Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park is a tranquil haven for nature lovers.
Take advantage of the:
- And deep-sea fishing
Opportunities available at this tranquil coastal park. All while admiring the beauty of South Carolina’s coastline.
Bulls Island (Boneyard Beach)
Discover the unique beauty of Bulls Island’s Boneyard Beach. The petrified trees create a unique and picturesque shoreline view. With its pristine beaches and diverse wildlife, Bulls Island is an unforgettable experience.
Edisto Beach State Park
To reach this secluded beach, you have to pass through the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the most well-protected river mouths in the country. And the expanse protects the:
- Salt marshes
- Maritime woods
And other habitats that make the South Carolina Lowcountry ecosystem so unique.
If you’re looking for a calming activity other than laying on a beach one of the days you’re here, head inland. The hiking trails and historic sites (including its own boneyard beach) are worth a visit.
Hunting Island State Park
Hunting Island State Park is South Carolina’s most visited state park, with over a million visitors per year. The famous Hunting Island lighthouse, built in 1859 but destroyed during the American Civil War, was rebuilt there in 1875. It was built of interchangeable cast-iron sections and moved 1.3 miles inland in 1889 due to beach erosion.
Isle of Palms
Enjoy the natural beauty of Isle of Palms by participating in activities such as:
- Sea kayak tours
- Sunset cruises
- And outdoor festivals
With its white sand and lush maritime forest, the Isle of Palms is a true nature lover’s paradise.
Explore the natural beauty of Seabrook Island, where luxury and nature coexist peacefully. You can bike, fish, stand-up paddleboard, horseback ride, or simply relax on the sand. All while admiring the breathtaking tidal coastline.
Seabrook Island has a distinct charm, where you’ll find a diverse range of wildlife and breathtaking scenery.
Relax and Unwind: Luxurious Beach Resorts in South Carolina
Indulge in the ultimate relaxation at these luxurious beach resorts in South Carolina. You can enjoy world-class amenities, stunning views, and a variety of activities at any of our top picks.
From swimming and sunbathing to fishing and kayaking, there is plenty to keep you entertained, no matter how long your stay. You can also take advantage of the resort’s spa services, fine dining, and entertainment options.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a holiday. The South Carolina coastline brims with fantastic resort destinations.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
You’ll discover the epitome of luxury at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Here, you can enjoy a championship golf course, a spa, and a variety of dining options.
Top outdoor activities include:
- Golfing (as the name implies)
- And exploring the Kiawah Island Heron Park Nature Center
There are countless activities to enjoy at this upscale resort.
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island offers a luxurious beach resort experience. A championship golf course, a spa, and a variety of dining options are just a few of the draws here.
Of the many activities available, top hits are bike rentals, kayaking tours, and exploring the art studio. Plus some shopping at nearby Freshfields Village.
Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms
Unwind in luxury at Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms, where you can enjoy a championship golf course, a spa, and plenty of dining options.
The many activities available at this top pick among Isle of Palms hotels and resorts include water sports and parks.
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
The Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Hotel Resort provides a luxurious beach getaway. Top amenities include a championship golf course, a spa, and plenty of dining options to choose from.
Enjoy a variety of activities, including eco-tours, biking, kayaking, and nature tours.
Marriott’s OceanWatch Villas at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach
You’ll find the ultimate beach vacation at Marriott’s OceanWatch Villas at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach. With a championship golf course, a spa, and many dining options, this luxurious resort offers an unforgettable stay.
Enjoy activities like arts and crafts, tie-dye making, scavenger hunts, and games like bocce ball and shuffleboard. And hosted social events make your vacation truly memorable.
And if you’re looking for something a little less fancy, check out our guide to Folly Beach hotels.
What’s the Best South Carolina Beach for History Buffs?
History buffs will delight in exploring the rich past of South Carolina’s beaches. Depending on where you head, you’ll find Civil War sites, lighthouses, and other historical attractions. Discover the fascinating history of:
All are within driving distance of downtown Charleston.
Walk in the footsteps of the past and immerse yourself in the captivating stories of these coastal treasures.
How to plan a trip that hits-up some of the hidden-gem beaches in South Carolina
As I mentioned before, some of the South Carolina beaches on this list require a drive.
The beaches near Charleston, South Carolina, are all fairly accessible to their central city. That said, you’ll still need a car to get to them. It’s just a short drive:
- Folly Beach
- Sullivan’s island
- Isle of Palms
But road trips from Charleston, SC, can be a blast!
Head either north or south of Charleston to visit all the other beaches on this list:
A road trip from Charleston to Myrtle Beach can cover Bulls Head Island and Huntington Beach State Park. Plus, Myrtle Beach, obviously.
Heading south on a road trip from Charleston to Savannah will provide stopovers in: Kiawah Island and Hilton Head Island. Plus Daufuskie Island or Ossabaw Island, with a little extra planning. And if you’re really looking for a beach-hopping trip, you can check-out Tybee Island just outside of Savannah, Georgia.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the clearest beach in SC?
South Carolina offers some of the clearest beaches in the US. Particularly popular spots are:
- Litchfield Beach
- Front Beach at Isle of Palms
- Hunting Island State Park
- Folly Beach
- Seabrook Island
- Edisto Beach
- Kiawah Beachwalker Park
- And Hilton Head Island
With its crystal clear waters, Litchfield Beach is perhaps the most well-known clear beach in the state!
What is the least expensive beach in South Carolina?
Murrells Inlet in South Carolina is the least expensive beach to retire at, according to Realtor.com. It’s located 13 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 21 miles north of Georgetown – making it a great spot for retirees.
So if you’re looking for an affordable beach town to retire in, Murrells Inlet might be a good fit!
What beach in South Carolina has the bluest water?
Kiawah Island in South Carolina is renowned for its crystal clear, turquoise waters and powdery white sand. The breathtaking natural beauty of the area makes it a popular choice for relaxing in picturesque surroundings.
Visitors flock to Kiawah for its unbeatable views and the opportunity to swim in the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean.