Of the many things the state of South Carolina is known for, critically acclaimed white sand beaches are among them.
Have you visited them all?
Toward the beginning of the summer, popular travel magazine Travel + Leisure released its picks for the 13 best beaches that you can visit within the Palmetto State. The ranking was written by Travel + Leisure’s Elizabeth Rhodes, who is originally from South Carolina.
Beaches in the state are a popular vacation destination choice for many friends and families as they offer something for everyone. Beach locales can range from luxurious islands with five-star oceanfront resorts, spas and restaurants to family-friendly and pet-friendly destinations with activities everyone will enjoy.
Ranging along the coast from Hilton Head Island to Myrtle Beach, as well as everything in between, here’s how the selected South Carolina beaches rank on the list.
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island claimed the first place spot as the best beach destination in the state, according to Travel + Leisure.
Hilton Head Island offers 12 miles of pristine white sand beaches, award-winning resorts, restaurants and golf courses as well as being an ideal destination for families.
“Consistently ranked among the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head has plenty to offer potential visitors. With more than 23 championship golf courses in the area, this destination is a golf lover’s dream, but it’s perfect for families, too, with dolphin tours, water sports, and 12 miles of beaches,” Rhodes wrote.
Kiawah Island, often described as feeling secluded despite its close proximity to Charleston, was ranked second on the list.
“With five stunning golf courses created by the best professional players and designers, Kiawah Island has everything an avid golfer could wish for,” detailed Travel + Leisure.
The island is primarily a private beach and golf resort with a 10-mile beach and where guests can book a stay at The Sanctuary, which is a 255-room beachfront hotel with a spa with a variety of dining venues.
Ranking in third place, Myrtle Beach is the northernmost destination on the list.
The area is described as being the unofficial capital of the Grand Strand, which is the approximately 60-mile stretch of beaches on the state’s coastline.
“Like many other South Carolina beaches, Myrtle Beach offers sandy shores and world-class golfing, but it also has attractions the whole family will love, like the SkyWheel Ferris wheel, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, and more,” said Travel + Leisure.
Folly Beach is located on Folly Island, which can be found just south of Charleston. The beach plays host for the Folly Beach Pier, which stretches more than 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach offers visitors with about 6 miles of wide beaches, which can be enjoyed by relaxing, swimming, surfing, fishing, biking, kayaking or more.
“Folly Beach offers laid-back vibes just minutes away from downtown Charleston, making it an ideal destination for visitors who want to explore the Lowcountry during their beach vacation. The beach is the main attraction at Folly — spend time lounging in the sun, or learn how to surf with lessons from one of the many surf schools,” said Travel + Leisure.
Hunting Beach State Park
Hunting Beach State Park features 3 miles of beaches for relaxation, swimming, running or fishing. The area has 173 campsites, three picnic shelters, 2,500 acres located in Murrells Inlet for visitors to enjoy and over 300 bird species that have been spotted within the park for avid bird watchers to spot.
Atalaya Castle, which is a National Historic Landmark, was also built there in the 1930s as a winter home for Archer and Anna Huntington.
Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is a slender barrier island near Charleston that boasts 7 miles of beaches that are accessible through 57 different public beach access paths.
“Isle of Palms is one of the Charleston area’s best beaches, sandwiched by the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. Enjoy tennis, surfing, paddleboarding, and golf, or charter a boat to explore this location from the water for a fresh perspective,” detailed Travel + Leisure.
“Isle of Palms County Park has lifeguards, outdoor showers, restrooms, a playground, chair and umbrella rentals, and beach-accessible wheelchairs available. Stop for dinner on nearby Sullivan’s Island,” the travel magazine continued.
“Nicknamed “The Family Beach,” Surfside Beach is located on the Grand Strand south of Myrtle Beach. Surfside’s commitment to family focus goes beyond its nickname — it declared itself the first autism-friendly travel destination in the world in January 2016. Visitors can enjoy the sandy shores from 36 different access points (some of which provide wheelchair access), and there’s also mini-golf and plenty of restaurants to choose from,” according to Travel + Leisure.
Surfside Beach has approximately 2 miles of pristine oceanfront beaches where visitors can experience beach homes, hotels, restaurants as well as a popular fishing pier.
Landing at eighth on the list, Daufuskie Island features 3 miles of pristine, white sand beaches.
Visitors can only travel to the island by boat, which allows for a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland.
“Say goodbye to crowded beaches and hello to quiet time with family with a top-ranked golf course and equestrian center located at Haig Point,” Travel + Leisure recommended.
Edisto Island features about 5 miles of peaceful beach area on Edisto Beach and is a great place to avoid over-crowded areas filled with beachgoers.
“Wildlife is abundant on the island, with visitors often spotting turtles, dolphins, egrets, pelicans, and more. Relax on the beach, go for a sunset cruise, book a fishing charter, or play a round of golf. You can choose from a variety of home and condo rentals, or opt to camp out at Edisto Beach State Park,” described Travel + Leisure.
Sullivan’s Island is a 2.5-mile barrier island near the entrance to Charleston Harbour and is near the Island Palms. The area features wide beaches and several beach access points as well as a lack of overcrowding along beaches.
“With no commercial development, this is one of the cleanest beachfronts you’ll find in the area. When you’re not enjoying sunset walks down the well-kept beach, try sailing, kayaking, or kiteboarding in the island’s waters. Tour Fort Sumter or see where Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie,” detailed the travel magazine.
Pawleys Island is a great destination choice for those who wish to vacation in the upper half of the state.
Pawleys Island has the largest free public beach access lot in Georgetown County, which is located on the south end of the island, as well as having an additional eight other public beach access points, which offer the use of approximately 141 combined parking spaces.
“One of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast, Pawleys Island includes 3 miles of pristine coastline and plenty to do and see. Have fun collecting shells on the shore or surfing the waves in the Atlantic. Or, try fishing or crabbing the nearby scenic tideland creek,” described the popular travel magazine.
Head on over to Murrells Inlet, located south of Myrtle Beach, which is a fishing village and at one time a frequented destination of the infamous pirate Blackbeard.
The area is known for its history, seafood and fishing charters. Waterfront dining, live entertainment, nature walks and the world’s largest outdoor collection of American sculptures are also popular sites and activities to experience while visiting Murrells Inlet.
Fripp Island features 3.5 miles of uncrowded white sand beaches as well as a wildlife sanctuary and opportunities for golfing and kayaking. The area is known for being one of the most preserved beaches in the Palmetto State.
“Watch for some of the 175 species of birds that live along the ocean and salt marsh, or other local animals like gators, dolphins, and loggerhead turtles. You’ll want to have your phone on hand for the island’s ample photo opportunities amidst its natural landscape, made famous in films like “Forrest Gump,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Prince of Tides,” Travel + Leisure recommended.