4 of the most magical islands in the US are in SC, national magazine says. Have you visited any?

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Now comes House Beautiful magazine’s “best of” list that includes South Carolina places: most magical island getaways.

Of the 30 islands selected, South Carolina has four on the list, second only to Florida, which has five.

None of the South Carolina islands cracked the top 10, which begins with No. 1 Sanibel Island, Florida, and No. 2 Nantucket, Massachusetts.

In all, the U.S. has 26 states and territories on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. House Beautiful selected islands in 17 of them.

Maine has the most islands with 3,166 and two were selected as magical: Mount Desert Island, home to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, and Bailey Island.

Alaska has the second most, 2,670 named islands, and one on House Beautiful’s list: Prince of Wales Island, a “wildlife utopia” 90 minutes north of Seattle.

Seabrook Island

The top South Carolina island listed is No. 12, Seabrook, a private and gated island 25 miles south of Charleston and adjacent to Kiawah (spoiler alert this island is also on the list).

House Beautiful calls Seabrook an “idyllic strip of ocean paradise.”

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina sold 1,100 acres to private developers in the 1970s, who then set out to create a sustainable community, stretching from the Atlantic coast to marshland to maritime forest. Just over 2,000 people live there full time.

It has two championship golf courses — Ocean Winds and Crooked Oaks — a racquet club, pickleball courts and an equestrian center that gives trail and beach rides.

The magazine highlights Synergy Day Spa and music at Pelican’s Nest.

“Or, tip your hat to Southern tradition and enjoy regional fare at the Palmetto Room, where the local seafood really shines,” the magazine said.

The Palmetto Room is located in the Club at Seabrook Island.

Just for kicks, here’s what you might expect to spend to stay forever. The most expensive house according to Multiple Listing Service Tuesday was a $3 million, three bedroom, four bath home on Captain Sams Creek. A marsh-front condo was on the market for $379,500.

Pawleys Island

No. 23 was Pawleys Island, which the magazine said “might be best defined by what it doesn’t have than what it does: No grocery store or gas station or stop light. No chain restaurant or big box store. In fact, there aren’t many businesses on Pawleys at all.”

Twenty-five miles south of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys’ tagline is “arrogantly shabby” to denote the weather-worn homes that dot the island’s 3-mile-long coastline. Sometimes people say “shabby chic.”

A fisherman fishes in the creek at the south end of Pawleys Island. Fishing locations along the Grand Strand. File. July 14, 2022.
A fisherman fishes in the creek at the south end of Pawleys Island. Fishing locations along the Grand Strand. File. July 14, 2022.

Many of the homes are handed down from generation to generation. There are two inns — The Pelican and The Sea View, which the magazine described as “historic and both serving breakfast and a mid-day “dinner” of classic Lowcountry cuisine, like shrimp and grits and fried chicken.”

On Tuesday, a house listed by Pawleys Island Realty — six bedroom, three bath home on the south end of Pawleys Island — was going for $2,758,000.

Not to be forgotten at Pawleys is the Gray Man, arguably the state’s most famous ghost, who is said to come out to warn people of impending hurricanes.

Kiawah Island

No. 23 is the aforementioned Kiawah, of which House Beautiful says, “untouched beauty abounds on one of Charleston’s most cherished islands with plenty of unique attractions and opportunities to connect with the great outdoors.”

Kiawah has five golf courses and last year hosted the PGA Championship.

The Sanctuary and The Spa at The Sanctuary have earned the Five Star Award from Forbes Travel Guide for 14 years in a row.

The island’s name comes from the Native Americans who lived there in the 1600s. Disease and enslavement caused the tribe to die out and the island passed from one European family to the next until the Vanderhorst family owned it for 200 years. Sea island cotton was grown there until the Civil War.

It is said that the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter were heard on Kiawah.

The island’s website says, “C.C. Royal, a lumberman, purchased Kiawah Island for a mere $125,000. Just 23 years later, his heirs sold the same piece of property to a resort developer for $18.2 million.”

“Lest we forget, a family-style meal at Tomasso at Turtle Point might just convince you to, you know, buy that vacation rental,” House Beautiful said.

There is a house on the market for just under $14 million. It’s 6,000 square feet on 1.7 acres where the Stono and Kiawah rivers meet.

Oh, and by the way, President Biden just spent his vacation at Kiawah.

Hilton Head Island

Last on the House Beautiful list is No. 30 Hilton Head Island, in many ways a world apart from where we started at Seabrook.

“You didn’t think we’d end our list without including the island that bills itself as America’s favorite, did you? Hilton Head, located barely off the coast in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, is pretty darn special,” the magazine said.

Mark Paszek shared his amazing photo of a bald eagle in flight over Fish Haul Creek on Hilton Head Island. 
Mark Paszek shared his amazing photo of a bald eagle in flight over Fish Haul Creek on Hilton Head Island.

More than 30 golf courses, 12 miles of beaches; 60 miles of multi-use trails (and 30 bicycle rental shops), dolphin tours, ziplining, jet skiing, helicopter tours, the magazine said.

“Relax at the Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa and follow it up with dinner at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, which sources its seafood from one of two remaining fishing fleets on the island,” House Beautiful said.

Some 40,000 people live on Hilton Head, which began its transformation in the 1950s thanks to legendary developer Charles Fraser, whose family owned most of the Island.

“Armed with vision, energy, modern air conditioning and investment dollars, he created a master plan for a resort community,” hiltonhead.org said.

A bridge to the island was built in 1956.

“The first of the Hilton Head family resorts — Sea Pines Plantation — became the prototype of the modern resort community, now copied around the world.

It was Incorporated as a town in 1983. Many of Fraser’s proteges went on to develop other islands and even Celebration, a Disney community, with an eye toward conservation.

And today, the as with all the Sea Islands, the cost to live there is a bit pricey, including a house marketed by Hilton Head Realty for just under $7 million: oceanfront, seven bedrooms, pool, game room, big deck.