9 Best Beaches in South Carolina
With miles and miles of sandy coastline, South Carolina is an ideal destination for a beach vacation. With something for every type of traveler, South Carolina beaches range from luxurious, private islands with five-star oceanfront resorts to family-friendly destinations with activities both kids and adults will love. We’ve rounded up the best beaches in South Carolina, from fan-favorite Hilton Head Island on the southern coast to laid-back Folly Beach, located just a short drive from Charleston. Whether you’re looking for your family’s next summer vacation spot or a romantic getaway, there’s a South Carolina beach perfect for you.
Related: More beach vacation ideas
1. Hilton Head Island
Consistently ranked among the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head has plenty to offer potential visitors. With more than 33 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. Opt to stay at one of the many beachfront resorts, like the Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa or the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, or book a stay at a beloved boutique hotel, like The Inn & Club at Harbour Town.
2. Kiawah Island
If you’re seeking a relaxing beach getaway, look no further than Kiawah Island. Even though it’s only 25 miles from nearby Charleston, Kiawah feels totally isolated and secluded. With five stunning golf courses created by the best professional players and designers, Kiawah Island has everything an avid golfer could wish for. Book a stay at The Sanctuary, a luxurious, 255-room beachfront hotel with a spa, beautiful pools, and a variety of dining venues, including the acclaimed Ocean Room.
3. Myrtle Beach
As the unofficial capital of the Grand Strand — the more than 60-mile stretch of beaches on the South Carolina coast from Little River to Winyah Bay — Myrtle Beach is ideal for families looking for a beach destination with plenty of activities on and off the shore. Like many other South Carolina beaches, Myrtle Beach offers sandy shores and world-class golf, but it also has attractions the whole family will love, like the SkyWheel Ferris wheel, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, and more. Marriott's OceanWatch Villas at Grande Dunes is one of many oceanfront hotel options in the area.
4. Folly Beach
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. Tides Folly Beach is Charleston’s only full-service oceanfront hotel, but there are a number of small inns and house rentals available on Folly, too.
5. Huntington Beach State Park
Located between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, Huntington Beach State Park offers historic sites, fishing, bird-watching, hiking, and of course, a three-mile beach. There are over 300 species of birds at the park, making it a birder’s paradise, and visitors are also known to spot pelicans, alligators, sea turtles, and more. Atalaya Castle, now a National Historic Landmark, was built here in the 1930s as a winter home for Archer and Anna Huntington. Plus, camping is available at Huntington Beach State Park for those who want to spend more time enjoying its natural beauty.
6. Isle of Palms
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. Whether you opt to stay at the Wild Dunes Resort or rent an oceanfront home, there’s plenty of opportunity to soak up the sun on the soft and sandy beach. 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 Obstinate Daughter, Poe’s Tavern, and Home Team BBQ are among the best restaurants on this island.
7. Surfside Beach
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 became 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. There are only a few hotels on Surfside Beach, including the Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel, but you can also opt for a home rental, so you and your crew have room to spread out.
8. Daufuskie Island
If you’ve ever wanted to just get away from it all, Daufuskie Island, located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Georgia, is a solid choice. This isolated island is only accessible by boat, which means you’re sure to get the peace and quiet you’re looking for when you visit. 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. Haig Point is also home to some of the only accommodations and restaurants on this island, though there are other rentals available on Daufuskie, too.
9. Edisto Island
Edisto Island, one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, is home to almost five miles of peaceful beach. 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 between a variety of home and condo rentals, or opt to camp out at Edisto Beach State Park.