14 Best Beaches in South Carolina
South Carolina is filled with many beautiful sites: from historical monuments and landmarks in Charleston to some amazing beaches.
Here, you and I are going to take an enticing journey through the Palmetto State's beaches!
1. Myrtle Beach
#1 in our list of the best beaches in South Carolina is none other than Myrtle Beach!
Myrtle Beach Location
Myrtle Beach is situated right at the northeastern border of North Carolina, offering a 60 mile long run of white sands and Atlantic Ocean shores.
Its neighboring cities include Conway, Georgetown, and a small community that runs north of it by the name of Little River.
The weather in this region is relatively temperate and keeps pace with typical beach weather.
In the winter or autumn months, these temperatures do drop to match the seasons.
But during the spring and summer, it is mostly sunny skies (and few storms if the climate allows it).
Myrtle Beach Life
Myrtle Beach is one of the most populous and most sought out tourist beaches in the region, so it is no surprise it offers plenty of attractions.
Ranging from its breathtaking Skywheel to its grand spectacle of jousting, feasting, and sword fighting Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament Show, Myrtle Beach has a ton to offer its seasonal vacationers.
Myrtle Beach is very family-friendly and boasts over 15 million people flocking to its beach every year.
There are affordable and free activities that anyone can partake in and enjoy for themselves or with their group.
Myrtle Beach Destinations
Destinations such as the Myrtle Beach State Park, which is excellent place for picnics, or a nature trail hike make for great off-beach days. A visit to the Grand Pier for a night of live local music is a must.
For food, Murrells Inlet is the spot to be!
There’s a long chain of seafood restaurants and buffets that’ll make sure you don’t go hungry.
Crab, lobster, barbecue, pizza, steak, the list goes on. Whatever you or your family is in the mood for, they have it.
Along the strip, there also are our favorite chain franchises if your taste buds seek that.
Most of Myrtle Beach’s hotels stretch along the beachline, and many others also offer a short walk to the water and sand.
Huntington Beach State Park
If waterfront camping and pristine beaches are what you're looking for, set your sights on Huntington Beach.
This dog-friendly beach is open year-round, so bring your best friend and explore the 2,500 acres of this Murrells Inlet beach.
North Myrtle Beach
Unknown to many, North Myrtle Beach and South Myrtle Beach are two separate cities, about 15 miles apart. Both offer their own fair share of amenities and destinations.
North Myrtle Beach is best known for its golf courses and upscale amenities.
For the history buffs and those fascinated by American Revolution-era type buildings, Charleston is the coastal city of your dreams.
This is a city that practically sits floating on top of the water.
Much of the Charleston area lies on a central island with bridges connecting to other main parts of the city and districts that flow into each other.
Rivers, streams, and most importantly, beaches are precisely what this bustling city is made of.
Neighboring Charleston are Kiawah Island, Isle of Palms, and Summerville.
With Charleston being a metropolitan area, the weather mimics that of its beaches as well.
You can enjoy the sun in the warm months, and the cool temperature drops with the potential for snow in the colder ones.
Charleston Beach Life
Charleston, South Carolina, is a city full of urban pleasantries that mingles with its vivid beach aesthetic.
There are countless tours of their gorgeous antebellum architecture.
Some tours even give visitors a chance to see where the first shots of the Civil War started.
In fact, you’ll see Charleston Beach in magazines such as Southern Living, NY Times, and AAA because of how pleasant it is to stroll around in its streets.
If you’re in the mood for something with a little more excitement, the city also has countless resort-like waterparks anyone can enjoy.
There’s no shortage of eateries, either.
A city like this is a melting pot of all types of palettes, and even gives its visitors a food tour so they can get a taste of what the culinary side of Charleston is like.
Charleston is a place rich with history, culture, and organized attractions that goes well with all planned itineraries.
We can't mention Charleston without mentioning Folly Beach. Folly Beach is a popular fishing site and lounge area for people of all kinds who are looking to relax by the sea.
For the purposes of our list, we'll consider Folly Beach as part of the Charleston area beaches, but it's a great enough beach to make it to the list all on its own.
Part of Folly Island, it's just south of Charleston, making it an excellent destination to head to when in the area.
There is no shortage of things to do in Charleston, whether you’re visiting the beaches or heading into the city.
3. Hilton Head Island
Next up on our list of the best beaches in South Carolina is Hilton Head Island!
Hilton Head Island offers a marshy set of plains, full of wildlife and exclusive golf courses.
You will find a mix of low-country vibes and a close-knit community of South Carolinian folks that are full of heritage and pride for their island.
Hilton Head Island Location
Hilton Head Island is well… an island!
This beach destination lies at the southern border coast. It's surrounded by water, with a small river running into the ocean at its southern tip.
Hilton Head is bordered by Daufuskie Island, Brighton Beach, and of course, the Atlantic Ocean.
One thing to note for this area is to keep in mind that it is extremely prone to flooding during the summer and rainy months.
Roads, rural plains, and other less dense areas can be hazardous.
And during hurricane season, it is the first in evacuation orders.
Unfortunately, this is because it’s often the hardest hit when strong storms roll in.
Plan your trips accordingly and know the weather before venturing here!
Hilton Head Island Beach Life
This island is a home away from home.
It’s a place of relaxation and has been named one of the best beaches in the US by the Condé Nast Traveler.
Here, you will find a bit more of a slow-moving town that wills for you take in the sights.
It’s not your hustle and bustle of a city you will find in other parts, but one that beckons those who are looking for an escape.
If crowds are not your thing, Hilton Head offers a nice respite from a busy life.
The Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is the most famous spot for vacationers and families looking for a fun-filled retreat.
For those looking for a mix of beach shopping and amenities, Coligny Beach is a must-visit.
Hilton Head Island is such a lovely spot to be that it has become a hotspot for weddings!
Event planners, experts, and counselors are on demand for to-be-weds all year long.
If the picturesque beaches and the romantic aura of this town don’t draw you in just yet, then set your sights on its attractive outdoor and recreational activities.
A mix of bicycle trails, guided tours, and hikes, along with ziplining, is all that awaits on your visit.
A small island like this has big plans for you and your endeavor as you search for beaches in South Carolina!
4. Edisto Beach
Just like Hilton Head Island, this is also a small island community that has its slice of paradise all to itself.
Edisto Beach takes #4 on our list of the best beaches in South Carolina.
Edisto Beach Location
This town of 400+ people is a location that has prided itself on the fact it has little to no commercialization.
When coming here, you get untouched beaches, raw pieces of nature, and the whitest sands allowed free roaming room without any artificial interference.
Because of this, the town of Edisto Beach employs strict regulation to protect their way of life and keep their island and beach beautiful.
Edisto Island is situated not too far from Charleston, just an hour away.
The weather follows the same pattern, but like Hilton Head Island, be mindful of possible storms and flood waters when visiting.
Beach Life in Edisto Island
Life here in Edisto Island is also a quiet one, a soothing stillness unmatched by nowhere else around.
Edisto Beach State Park is a popular place for camping and is a great opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the island.
This park comes with RV and tent camping sites that all people welcome to and even allows reservations. Cabins as well are allotted.
There is an Environmental Learning Center in the State Park where families and individuals can go for a small fee to learn more about the island and its environment.
Edisto Beach has boat tours where visitors can sail the waters with a guide and get some insight into what life is like here.
Alongside those are also designated bike and hiking paths that let you take a walk or ride throughout the town, passing by restaurants, shops, and even stopping at scenic views that will leave you in awe.
Swimming is the residents’ favorite pastime, and there is plenty of room to do that at SC beaches.
Edisto Island is a pristine sanctuary that marries both wilderness and civilization in a perfect order that you can enjoy when staying.
A moment’s here is a moment to appreciate the essence of the beaches themselves.
5. Port Royal
Port Royal is a community that follows the trend of small-town New Urbanism and is an area that features multiple walking trails, hikes, and access to its natural environments.
Port Royal Location
You will find Port Royal nestled between Beaufort Creek and Battery river.
Here, Port Royal is considered part of South Carolina’s Low Country.
Beach Life in Port Royal
Port Royal vacationers are drawn to the area’s beautiful sights and sunsets.
This part of South Carolina in Port Royal has excellent parks and recreational activities.
Visitors who come here are sure to be wowed by the sights and blissful serenity of it all.
6. Morris Island
Morris Island is a land of history dating over 150 years.
During the turning of the civil war, this area was a strategic location for the Confederacy during their fight for secession.
Morris Island Location
This historic site lies at the edge of a trio of islands: James Island sits at its north, separated by a channel and Folly Island at its southern tip.
Beach Life in Morris Island
Those interested in seeing historic sites would be given the opportunity for a ride to its candy cane-striped lighthouse that served as a beacon for Confederate troops.
The siege on Battery Wagner took place here, with more than 1,500 soldiers losing their lives.
Public tours and kayaking to the lighthouse are a favorite local activity you will enjoy when coming here!
7. Saint Helena
Saint Helena is a land steeped with African American history, a place where Gullah and Geechee descendants from enslaved West Africans call their home and maintain sovereignty.
Saint Helena Location
Lying in Beaufort County, a popular site for tourism, Saint Helena is an island and neighbor to Port Royal.
The Harbor River lies on its east coast shores, with the Beaufort River on its west.
Beach Life in Saint Helena
The Gullah Geechee people have kept their culture alive and are the main attraction of this island.
Dancing, festivals, live cultural events with music are just the tip of the iceberg when coming to this beautiful island.
Visitors here will experience a plethora of a world across the seas brought over to South Carolina’s shores.
8. James Island
A recent history that dates back to 1992, James Island has been a community that fought for recognition and succeeded in 2012 and was incorporated into the South Carolina community.
James Island Location
James Island is situated in the Charleston Harbor and has the Stono and Folly river meandering throughout its marshes and plains.
Beach Life in James Island
With such close proximity to Charleston, visitors have the best of both worlds in experiencing the lushness of the island’s beaches, along with the city’s convenience and beautiful venue.
9. Kiawah Island
Here, you will find private beaches and golf resorts that many seasonal vacationers call home.
Among those vacationers also lies a long line of seafront homes and residents taken to the steady low-country lifestyle.
Kiawah Island Location
Kiawah Island is a barrier island that lies 25 miles southwest of Charleston.
Residents from the bustling town are often found here for escapes and trips of relaxation.
Beach Life in Kiawah Island
With so much mingling of Charleston residents, vacationers, and Kiawah Island residents, the island has developed a unique culture devoted to its resort and golf course attractions that lures families and individuals of all backgrounds.
For golfers, a trip to the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a must.
10. Surfside Beach
Regarded as one of the most family-friendly beach locations, Surfside Beach has developed a reputation of being a favorite affordable spot for those seeking sun and fun without breaking the bank for it.
Surfside Beach Location
Neighbors to Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, has its own sector that has been culminated and cultivated for accessibility so that anyone and everyone can take part in what it has to offer.
Beach Life in Surfside Beach
Just like its neighbor, much of this area mimics that of a serene skyline of hotels and residentials that lines up perfectly with its beachside piers that provide passage to its sands.
Surfside Beach is built for families by families, and takes care of those who are looking for that bonding South Carolina beach vacation moment.
11. Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms Location
Situated just 20 minutes outside of Charleston, this long stretch of beach has a sports culture and room for volleyball, tennis, and numerous bike paths that run along its entire length.
Beach Life in Isle of Palms
The island offers spas, golf courses, and world-class resorts that are sure to offer a perfect environment of relaxation for yourself and those you may bring with you.
12. Cherry Grove
Seen as a distinguished neighborhood of North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove is a community built on the foundations of Myrtle Beach of aesthetics and offers the same experience inside and out the city.
Cherry Grove Location
Small in size but big in experience.
The same wonders found in its neighboring beaches and cities can also be found here.
Cherry Grove sits right along the edge of the Atlantic.
Beach Life in Cherry Grove
Expansive and wide beaches with piers for fishing dot the coastline of the Cherry Grove area.
Local shops and restaurants that give a taste of Cherry Grove’s cuisine that is sure to wow its visitors each and every time.
13. Sullivan’s Island
An island with roots dating back to a 17th-century settlement, Sullivan's Island measures up to a two and half-mile long white beach that sits at the edge of the Charleston Harbor.
Sullivan's Island Location
Sullivan's Island, like many of South Carolina beaches, is a barrier island that hugs the edges of the Atlantic Ocean.
It shares the Charleston Harbor with the city, James Island, and Folly Beach.
Beach Life in Sullivan's Island
Another close-knit community like this boasts scenic beaches that offer multiple places of interest if you are looking for a chance to enjoy the sights and temperate weather.
14. Pawley's Island
Pawleys Island is a fun and populated summer resort that also features a history of rice plantations dating back to the 17th century as well.
A charming historic aura of this area takes shape in both its residents and its visitors.
Pawleys Island Location
This island is 70 miles north of the city of Charleston and 25 miles from Myrtle Beach.
A mix of both commercial and uninhabited districts is a mesh of its lovely beaches and waterways.
Beach Life in Sullivan Island
A series of creeks, rivers, and other fishing spots has made Pawleys Island a popular crabbing spot for both the city’s residents and those visiting outside of it.
The picturesque views and the history of this island call for you.
Be sure to check out neighboring Litchfield Beach.
Known for its quiet beaches and natural beauty, Litchfield Beach is a must-visit if you're in the area.
Things to Remember
Beaches are not only lovely to look at and fun to play in, but they are natural wonders that require cooperation from us.
All these beaches have proper regulations that ask us to keep them clean and keep them beautiful.
It is our job as vacationers, Beachgoers, and humans who love our planet, to do our part to respect it and recognize it is not only a place for us to visit but is also home to the wildlife that has been there way before any of us have.
South Carolina’s beaches have various tastes and attractions that can maybe appeal to a broad audience.
Still, many of them on this list also have a catered taste you can experience for yourself.
What To Bring
Many beaches on this beach list lie in marshes, rivers, and abundant wilderness fields.
Depending on the weather and what time of the year you may find yourself visiting these places, here are some things that all Beachgoers should consider bringing when arriving at these South Carolina Beaches:
- Sunscreen will help prevent potential burns and lowers the risk of sun cancer for those who are majorly sensitive to UV rays or are at high risk of sunburn.
- Bug spray will be helpful against the possible threat of pests that lie within the beaches and outside of them when on natural bike paths or nature expeditions.
- For campers and hikes, be sure to have a checklist of essential personal gear and, if possible, a first aid kit. It is better to be safe than sorry! Read up on camping guidelines and follow campgrounds regulations to keep a fun and enjoyable experience when out and about.
- Lastly, snacks! When spending a whole day out having fun in the sun, it’s nice to have some refreshments handy to keep everyone up at pace.
If you need a refresher on what to bring, check out our Ultimate Beach Packing List.
Ready to Head to the Beach?
As a whole, South Carolina is a beautiful state and place to be. Still, there’s nothing that can top its beaches.
We’ve explored many different aspects of South Carolina beaches, from their pristine sands to the on-location offerings of food, fun, and excitement.
Any of these vacation spots can meet your need for cool water, warm sun, and ready entertainment.
If nothing else, these gorgeous beaches will encourage you to kick back, relax, and enjoy life.
Any beach on this list will certainly make for an excellent trip.
So get out there and enjoy South Carolina!