Are you planning to visit South Carolina? If yes, your tour is incomplete without spending some time at a few of the best South Carolina beaches.
Isn’t it awesome to feel the wind in your hair while your toes are buried in sand, or to sip margaritas while watching the waves? If this sounds like heaven to you, look no further than South Carolina.
Home to a breathtaking extended coastline filled with places to stay, sights to see, and fun things to do, South Carolina beaches are the ideal weekend getaways for any beach fan.
The state not only boasts serene bodies of water but also takes pride in its rich cuisine, including delicious BBQ and fresh seafood. And you won’t want to miss the charming architecture, as well as the beautiful parks and resorts that accentuate South Carolina’s beaches.
All this might make you want to jump onto the next flight to South Carolina. And guess what — with platforms like Kayak, you can easily compare and find the cheapest airfare to your favorite destination.
If you are seeking more adventure, take the Charleston Walking Tours, a great idea for family bonding.
Table of Contents
- Why Plan a Getaway to the Best Beach in South Carolina?
- When to Plan a Getaway to South Carolina Beaches?
- The Best Time of the Year to visit South Carolina Beaches
- Best Beaches in South Carolina to Visit
- 1. Daufuskie Island
- 2. Seabrook Island Beach
- 3. Pawleys Island
- 4. Huntington Beach State Park
- 5. Cherry Grove Beach
- 6. Hunting Island
- 7. Kiawah Island
- 8. Folly Beach
- 9. Sullivan’s Island
- 10. Myrtle Beach
- 11. Isle of Palms
- 12. Burkes Beach
- 13. Surfside Beach
- 14. Edisto Beach
- South Carolina Beach Vacation Itinerary
- Final Thoughts
Why Plan a Getaway to the Best Beach in South Carolina?
South Carolina beaches are versatile and accommodating. Whether you’re backpacking alone or traveling with family, they have it all.
And the best part is, there are so many beaches to visit, you’ll be able to plan more than one weekend trip if you want to enjoy them all.
Among the most popular beaches are Myrtle Beach, the Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island. While these destinations do get crowded during peak seasons, it is easy to find a secluded resort if you want to avoid the crowd.
Similarly, if you’re traveling with kids and want to indulge in diverse activities on your vacation, South Carolina is home to many other attractions. If you are seeking more exploration, take the Charleston Walking Tours, a great idea for family bonding. South Carolina is also famous for its golf courses and the historical attributes of its small towns, especially Charleston.
Our guide will give you some insight into cheap flight bookings, hotel bookings, travel times and beach options in South Carolina. With that said, let’s get started!
When to Plan a Getaway to South Carolina Beaches?
Nowadays, there’s no specific vacation season. Everyone plans vacations and getaways according to their personal preferences and schedules. That’s why we’ve listed the usual weather conditions and attractions for each month you might visit South Carolina. That way, you can decide when you want to plan your getaway.
If you’re visiting South Carolina for the beaches, the beginning of the year is not an ideal time, as it’s one of the coldest times of the year. From January into March, it’s the chilly season.
While the cold does begin to lift in March, the weather transitions into a more humid climate with rainfall. Not the best if you’re hoping to lounge on the beach, but it is great for water sports!
April marks the advent of spring in South Carolina. Rain and high temperatures reign in this vacation spot during this period. The waves become enormous, specifically on beaches such as Folly Beach or Pawleys Island, making it an excellent season for active water sports such as parasailing and surfing.
Besides that, what’s a better time than late spring or early summer to enjoy a cool piña colada while reclining on the beach? If you have a relaxing vacation in mind, you should travel between April and June.
July in South Carolina is scorching hot and has the highest rainfall probability. In other words, the coming months mark the hurricane season.
Hurricane season in South Carolina usually runs from June until November, but the harshest weather typically hits the beaches from August to October.
This is the ideal period for those planning budget vacations to South Carolina. The looming threat of hurricane season, paired with the harsher weather, can deter some tourists. As a result, hotel prices become cheaper and attractions less busy. However, you might miss out on some beach activities due to weather hazards in the area.
Nevertheless, if you plan to relax in an all-inclusive resort along the coastline, October and November are great months to choose. At this point, the threat of dangerous weather will have dissipated, and the weather becomes much less scorching.
The Best Time of the Year to visit South Carolina Beaches
If you’re looking for affordable prices combined with a favorable season, consider traveling from March to May. This is a comparatively less crowded season, and you can enjoy good weather for water sports and beach activities as well.
For extroverts, the spring season is the most exciting time of the year on South Carolina beaches. With carnivals, festivals, beach parties and country music, the spring season is ideal for people who enjoy the nightlife. However, the prices are at their peak during the spring season.
Those traveling with their families who want to avoid the coastal areas’ hot summers should book their flights between late November to January. The beaches are not crowded, and you will get cheaper hotel prices than in the peak season.
Best Beaches in South Carolina to Visit
Now that you’ve gone through these recommendations for when to plan your getaway to South Carolina beaches, there’s only one box left to tick off: which South Carolina beaches should you visit?
With many beautiful beaches available, you will have to choose the ones you want to visit wisely. You can go to far-off, secluded destinations or visit beaches with the most family-friendly facilities.
Here, I’ve listed some of the most popular beaches along the South Carolina Coast with all their attractions and attributes, so you can plan your trip accordingly.
1. Daufuskie Island
Daufuskie Island, which is located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, is ideal for people who need a secluded getaway beach.
The best part is that you can only access Daufuskie Island by boat. This means it is rarely crowded, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet away from your daily life schedule. While the island does not offer any water sports, you can spend time swimming and relaxing with your family.
Most of the activities and eateries at Daufuskie Island are located near Haig Point. If you’re looking for a nice meal, you could dine at Calibogue Club at Haig Point. Or head to Aw Vino to shop the wine collection. You can even book a private tasting!
You can also find a top-ranked golf course and several other activities across the island. Visit the Daufuskie Island Museum if you’re curious to learn more about the island’s history, and keep the lesson going by viewing historic landmarks along the Rob Kennedy Historical Trail.
You can also take a tour of the Daufuskie Island Rum Company, rent bikes to ride around the island or bring your own gear to go fishing.
There are some amazing cottage accommodations to be found on the island! Templeton’s Daufuskie Cottage is an adorable two-bedroom rental.
Located super close to the Iron Fish Art Gallery and Silver Dew Pottery studio, it makes a great secluded getaway. You can also explore the Daufuskie Rental Group for other accommodation offerings found across the island.
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2. Seabrook Island Beach
Seabrook Island Beach features a 4-mile stretch along the Atlantic Ocean that makes it one of the longest stretches of beach shoreline on the Carolinas’ coasts. This impressive beach is actually divided into two separate locations that offer two different beach experiences.
Pelican Beach, also referred to as Sunset Beach, is an extremely popular location. This area is known for offering particularly fantastic sunset views, especially during late summer. The tides here are also softer and slower than typical, making it a great beach choice if you’re traveling with young children.
The other stretch of beach that makes up Seabrook Island Beach is North Beach. This beach is characterized by its wider stretch of sand and tide pools. It’s an amazing place to catch the sunrise and is known to display some impressive rainbows.
Either of these beaches is a great place to visit for the day! These beaches are dog-friendly, and you can contact their security directly to get beach bonfire permits.
There aren’t a lot of hotel accommodations located directly on Seabrook Island, but visitors can take advantage of some villas and apartments nearby. These include a stunning 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom beachside mansion, or a more modest 1 bedroom condo, both in close proximity to the waterfront.
3. Pawleys Island
Pawleys Island may be one of the oldest resort areas along the East Coast, but it has managed to avoid commercialism over the years. It is best known for its pristine beaches, rolling sand dunes, and abundance of fun visitor attractions
Pawleys Island is located just 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach. When you’re done lounging on this stunning beach, you can visit some of the other attractions on this Island.
Brookgreen Gardens, which is a short drive away from Pawleys Island Creek, is filled with amazing things to explore! Here you’ll find a 9,100-acre oasis that’s home to lush gardens, a zoo, river cruises, and the work of sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington.
Other activities include dolphin-watching boat tours, the Georgetown Harborwalk, a marina, river boat tours, museums, and a movie theater. There’s even golfing at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club.
Those looking to stay right on Pawleys Island have plenty of rental and hotel options to choose from. The Hampton Inn Pawley’s Island offers great local beach access, tons of dining options, and facilities for a comfortable stay. The Best Western Pawleys Island is also a good option, with comfortable rooms, lots of amenities, and easy access to the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Charleston
4. Huntington Beach State Park
If you are a wildlife lover, make sure a visit to Huntington Beach State Park is in your future! There are more than 2,500 acres in this park for you to discover and explore, along with a pristine 3-mile-long beach and over 300 different bird species.
During the summer months, Huntington Beach features a swimming area with lifeguards in posted designated spots along the beach. Other areas without lifeguards are open for swimming — just know that you’re swimming at your own risk in these areas.
Huntington Beach State Park is a popular South Carolina surfing spot. It features an easy-to-trek, 2-mile-long hiking trail, with picnic areas and campgrounds available on-site if you plan to stay the night.
If you don’t feel like camping, you can opt for some more comfortable hotel and rental accommodations. The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn is just 10 minutes away from Huntington Beach State Park and has oceanfront rooms, a pool, and great dining options.
You could also stay at the equally nearby Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort. This resort will keep you close to the beach and offers some great amenities that include a private beach, golf courses, pools, tennis, and more!
5. Cherry Grove Beach
Named after the nearby Cherry Grove Plantation, Cherry Grove Beach, which is located in a small town near North Myrtle Beach, is a great vacation spot for families looking to get away. Its white sand beach and saltwater channels offer many boating opportunities.
A popular way to get around the Cherry Beach area is with a tourist golf cart rental, from companies such as Trailblaze Adventure. Cherry Beach covers a pretty big stretch of land, with lots of restaurants and activities to see and do along the pier. By using a golf cart, you can navigate the area much easier!
Tourists and locals alike use golf carts in this area. Cherry Beach is golf cart-friendly with the right permit, and there are many designated beach roads and smaller roads where you’re allowed to drive them.
Looking to stay close by? Towers at North Myrtle Beach is an amazing hotel, located 15 minutes away from Cherry Grove Pier. Here you can enjoy some amazing pools, great ocean views and easy access to the beach and boardwalk.
The Tilghman Beach and Golf Resort is even closer, directly in front of the main entrance to Cherry Beach. This beachfront hotel also offers some great rooms, a pool, dining options and beach access. It’s a perfect place to stay if you want to be close to the beach!
6. Hunting Island
Hunting Island, which is just a one-hour drive from Hilton Head, is home to one of the best family beaches in the entire state of South Carolina. Activities for the family to enjoy at this beach include fishing, boating and visiting the only accessible lighthouse in the state. There are also several walking trails and playgrounds as well.
Hunting Island, which is part of Hunting Island State Park, was named one of America’s Top Ten Beaches by TripAdvisor and attracts over 1 million visitors each year. You can set up towels to swim anywhere along the 5 miles of beach on Hunting Island. Visitors should note, though, that there are no lifeguards on duty, so swimming is at your own risk.
If you want to stay directly on Hunting Island, the best way to do it is by camping in the state park. For hotel or rental accommodations, you’re going to have to head off of the island, toward Beaufort. The Hampton Inn Beaufort and Tru by Hilton Beaufort are both great options, providing cheap, comfortable accommodations with an easy drive to Hunting Beach.
7. Kiawah Island
For vacationers who want to appreciate natural beauty, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is one of the most breathtaking beaches in the country. The beach attracts large crowds during the vacation season and is a versatile spot for backpackers, families with kids and couples.
You can visit the preserved marshes in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, enjoy the sand dunes, and hike into the Maritime forests. Besides that, the island has some of the best golf courses in the state.
Similarly, the sandy plains of Beachwalker Park are a must-visit for couples to take romantic walks, strolling between the ocean and the Bohicket River.
Visitors should note that Kiawah Island only has one public beach, and it has limited sports options. But if you wish to relax and enjoy swimming, it has all the necessary facilities, including restrooms, snack stalls and lifeguards.
For a truly luxurious experience, visitors to Kiawah Island can stay at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. This is a true luxury resort that features all the amenities you can think of: indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, basketball courts, bike rentals, gardens, and a full spa!
For a more low-key stay on the island, consider a vacation rental like this one here! This beautiful villa is just a 5-minute walk to the beach and has a lovely screened-in balcony, full kitchen and comfortable sleeping accommodations for two. It makes a great couple’s getaway!
See Related: Best Walking Tours in Charleston, South Carolina
8. Folly Beach
Folly Beach is a family-friendly beach on Folly Island, a coastal area just south of Charleston.
It’s a go-to destination for travelers who want to take up adventurous water sports on their trip, with surfing, boating and kayaking all available.
Besides that, this family beach offers picturesque views for those who prefer to relax and recline on the shore. You can appreciate the natural beauty further by taking comprehensive boat tours along the beach for nominal rates.
Folly Beach is surrounded by many tourist spots worth visiting. You can enjoy sightseeing from the Edwin Taylor Fishing Pier or visit the Morris Island Lighthouse.
The thing Folly Beach is truly famous for, though, is its deep-sea fishing and pier-fishing activities. It’s actually considered one of the most popular fishing destinations in South Carolina, as you can participate in river fishing, deep sea fishing, pier fishing and surf fishing all from the same island.
In short, Folly Beach offers a complete package for families where everyone has a different idea of a perfect beach vacation. And no package is complete without accommodations.
Here, you can find many options, including hotels and rental apartments. The Tides at Folly Beach is a popular hotel located steps away from the Folly Beach Fishing Pier. For a homier vibe, try a bed & breakfast such as the Beachside Boutique Inn, located just three minutes away from the beach and local parks.
Along with some solid accommodation options, you’ll also find some great dining on Folly Beach, with yummy places to eat and a fantastic nightlife scene that lets you set yourself free and have fun.
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9. Sullivan’s Island
Just a 20-minute ride from Charleston is one of the most perfect beach destinations in South Carolina: Sullivan’s Island. This 2.5-mile-long barrier island near Charleston Harbor is known for its pristine beaches, award-winning restaurants and welcoming community.
The beaches on Sullivan’s Island are wide open, but there are no lifeguards, so you will be swimming at your own risk. You’ll find no beachfront commercial development here — which also means you’ll find no public restrooms, showers or public parking lots available, so keep this in mind when planning your beach trip.
There isn’t a lot of lodging on Sullivan’s Island, but you can find a few hotels worthy of consideration.
You could have a comfortable stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Charleston Mount Pleasant, which is closer than 20 minutes from the beach by car. This hotel is also super close to Charleston attractions such as the city market and aquarium.
You could also consider a luxurious stay at the Inn At I’on Ascend Hotel with its fancy rooms, many amenities, and easy access to both beaches and the city of Charleston.
10. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is the ideal spot for a beach vacation with the family. The city is actually host to a combination of several small beaches that offer warm, soothing waters and serene views. But it’s best to visit during the summer, when popular local events take place. Check out the Carolina Country Music Fest, the Myrtle Beach World Amateur, 4th of July parties and much more!
While here, you can enjoy all the water activities you could possibly want to do, such as scuba diving, surfing, parasailing, jet-skiing and paddleboarding. Moreover, if you want to spend a budget vacation here, the beaches are ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Along with the beach-related activities, Myrtle Beach has plenty of other things to do along its shore. You can visit the legendary Kingdom Amusement Park with your family and enjoy thrilling rides and exotic food stalls.
Want something different to do with the family? Check out the Charles Back Wonders Magic Show. This terrific show is suitable for audiences of all ages and likely to wow all who attend!
Similarly, the Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach provide the ideal destination for kids with vivid imaginations. You can also shop for South Carolina merchandise near the beach at Barefoot Landing and Tanger Outlets.
If you get hungry, choose from the local BBQ spots or sample some of the world-famous seafood buffets. It’s also worth mentioning that Myrtle Beach, known as the seaside golf capital of the world, is home to around 50 mini-golf courses in the area worth checking out.
Bottom line, Myrtle Beach is the go-to spot for visitors looking to spend an extended beach vacation without running out of things to do.
Just a heads up: the beaches are crowded during favorable seasons, so finding a secluded spot is challenging.
Looking for oceanfront accommodations for your trip to Myrtle Beach? Try the Courtyard by Marriott, which is just a few steps from the beach. The Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel is also super close by and is a great choice if you want easy beach access.
11. Isle of Palms
If you’re looking for a high-end vacation spot complete with all the luxuries and amenities you could ever hope for, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, is the place for you.
A short drive from Charleston, the Isle of Palms boasts a staggering 3,000 acres of pristine beaches. The island is dotted with luxurious homes, beach parks, hotels, golf courses and restaurants for visitors to explore. And if you’re looking for cheaper accommodations, you can easily find rental homes and condos along the shore as well.
Front Beach is one of the most popular areas on the Isle of Palms. You can have fun with your family building sandcastles, swimming and sunbathing.
Or you could just load up a cooler bag with drinks and snacks and enjoy sipping your favorite beverages while enjoying the fantastic view.
The island hosts festivals and parties throughout the year, including July 4th firework shows, winter holiday street festivals, music festivals and more (Click here to learn more about annual events)! In a nutshell, the Isle of Palms is the perfect location for a laid-back, relaxing vacation.
If you’re looking for a hotel with easy beach access, it doesn’t get much better than The Palms Oceanfront Hotel. This hotel is located directly on the beach, with comfortable rooms and great ocean views.
More interested in something homey? Wild Dunes Resort Vacation Rentals provides a collection of stunning beachfront properties ready for guests!
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12. Burkes Beach
Burkes Beach is a family-friendly beach on Hilton Head Island with an amazing shoreline and boardwalks that you and your children can walk or bike on. You’ll also find many picnic spots throughout Burkes Beach and paved trails in Chaplin Community Park.
You can even take a horseback ride along the shore after lounging on the beach and playing in the water.
Do any short boarding? Burkes Beach offers some larger waves, while other beaches in Hilton Head are best known for smaller waves.
You’ll find a wide choice of amazing hotels across Hilton Head that make great places to stay! If beach access is your main concern, you’re likely to enjoy the villa apartments at the Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort. This space is super close to the beach and has some great outdoor patios, a private pool and apartment-style accommodations.
The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa is also a great place to stay. This is a more luxurious hotel with sprawling grounds, restaurants, a full spa, golf courses and easy beach access.
See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota
13. Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach is another great beach spot in South Carolina, especially for families. This beach has long been considered a family beach, thanks to its pristine sands, lifeguard presence and accessible beach access points.
Surfside Beach is also known as one of the first-ever autism-friendly beach destinations. It’s classified as a Certified Autism Center thanks to its resources and the accommodations it provides to visitors. (Learn more here.)
Surfside Beach is surrounded by amenities and activities that make it a great choice for families. The beach is super close to a water park, Wild Water & Wheels, which makes for a fun day trip. It has an impressive pier, which is great for fishing. Surfside also has plenty of restaurants, and it hosts local events throughout the year, including the Surfside Beach BBQ Festival and the annual Memorial Day Golf Cart Parade.
If you’re looking to stay close by, you can’t get much closer than the Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel. This hotel, which is located just steps away from the beachfront, is a super comfortable place to stay. You can also check out the Grand Palms Resort. With pools, waterslides, stunning rooms, and plenty of amenities, it’s a great place for families who want to enjoy the ultimate getaway.
See Related: 15 Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
14. Edisto Beach
Edisto Beach, which can be found on Edisto Island in the Edisto Beach State Park, is a great beach spot for a romantic getaway. Edisto Beach is much less built up than some of the other beaches on our list, known for its natural, more secluded feel. You won’t find a bustling boardwalk or tons of shops here, but instead, you can relax while enjoying natural views and outdoor activities.
Once inside Edisto Beach State Park, visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, picnicking and hiking along trails. You can also use the beach for swimming, but with no lifeguards present, it’s at your own risk.
If you are looking for things to do away from the beach, you can visit the Edisto Island Serpentarium to see some live snakes and alligators. At the Edisto Island Museum, you can learn more about the history of the island. You can also try eco tours if you want to be guided through fishing or see some dolphins in the ocean.
If you want to stay right on Edisto Island, Club Wyndham Ocean Ridge offers hotel accommodations. Here you’ll find comfortable lodging surrounded by nature, with close access to Edisto Beach and golfing.
There are also private rentals on the island, like this one here. This two-bedroom, two-bath condo has some great views of the marina. You’ll feel right at home here, with close access to the beach and various hiking trails and nearby bike rentals to explore the island.
See Related: 15 Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
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South Carolina Beach Vacation Itinerary
For those traveling to South Carolina for the first time, here’s a short sample itinerary for you to follow, so you can have a lovely weekend getaway in Myrtle Beach.
- Spend the day relaxing and exploring Myrtle Beach.
- Eat some lunch at New South Brewing, a popular microbrewery by the beachfront.
- Enjoy time on the pier taking rides and playing games at Family Kingdom Amusement Park.
- Spend the night at the Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort.
- Start the day with some golf at Whispering Pines Golf Course.
- Spend an afternoon with the fishes at the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach.
- Take in dinner and a medieval jousting show at Medieval Times Myrtle Beach.
- Spend another night at the Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort.
- Spend the morning enjoying some time at the resort.
- Learn some South Carolina history while riding a horse-drawn carriage with a Charleston Historic Tour.
- Have an exciting meal at a Polynesia Fire Luau on the beach.
- Spend one last night at your amazing resort!
See Related: Best Restaurants in Charleston
You can find some incredible beaches in South Carolina, making it difficult to choose just one! But stay calm, knowing that no matter which beach on our list ends up on your itinerary, you’re sure to have a fun day in the sun.
Whenever you plan your vacation, make sure to check the availability of your family’s favorite attractions to avoid disappointment upon reaching your destination.
Also, make sure there’s room in your itinerary if something interesting arises during your beach stay. You may find yourself wanting to come back for a second day at the beach, or perhaps you’ll want to spend more time exploring a state park on your list!
If you’re interested in adding other activities to your itinerary besides beaches, check out our article about the best breweries in Charleston. You’ll be amazed at how massive this great city’s beer culture is.
Better safe than sorry when traveling, right? To cover yourself on your next domestic trip, consider travel insurance. Since you’ll be visiting the beaches of South Carolina, the right insurance can cover your many water activities, including boating, canoeing, wakeboarding, scuba diving and swimming.
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