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Charleston, South Carolina, is a charming city with many attractions for visitors and locals. From its historic homes and carriage rides to its trendy oyster bars and live music venues, this southern gem always has something to enjoy. 

But remember to pack your swimsuit, too. Charleston is also a launchpad for beachgoers who want to experience some of the finest beaches in the country.

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A quick drive from downtown Charleston will lead you to five captivating barrier islands between Charleston County and the serene Lowcountry. 

These islands are a haven for beach lovers and adventurers alike. Dive into activities like sunbathing, surfing, fishing, or kayaking. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of playful dolphins, graceful sea turtles, or various coastal birds.

But let’s stay caught up in the city’s urban allure; today, we are veering off to the tranquil shores. 

Yes, we’re diving into the best beaches in Charleston, SC.

Our Top 5 Best Charleston Beaches

Folly Beach

Folly Beach, referred to as “The Edge of America,” is a haven for surfers, artists, and those searching for a laid-back vibe. 

The pier is iconic, perfect for a sunset stroll or a spot of fishing. Folly’s waves are a tad more challenging, calling out to those surf enthusiasts. 

Because this barrier island stands bold and beautiful, facing the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. 

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Speaking of surfing, while the entire coastline offers surf breaks, the local favorite spot is the Washout. Dive into guided boat or kayak tours along the Folly River, glide through its inlets, marshes, and tidal creeks, and keep an eye out!

Moreover, the local dining scene here is nothing short of eclectic. From fresh seafood to the most delectable southern cuisine, there’s something for every palate.

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Isle of Palms

best beaches in charleston sc

Looking for the perfect family-friendly beach spot? Say hello to Isle of Palms, located just a stone’s throw north of Sullivan’s Island. This barrier island beach is a haven of cleanliness and space.

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Its soft sand is perfect for laying out, soaking up the sun, or creating epic sandcastles.

If you’re in for more active fun, the calm waters beckon for swimming. And the adventure doesn’t stop there. Get your adrenaline fixed with boating, jet skiing, parasailing, and fishing.

Have you got kids? They’ll love the public park with all essentials: restrooms, showers, picnic spots, and a playground to burn off that extra energy.

And if you still need to pack some beach essentials, no problem. Local vendors have covered you, offering rentals for beach chairs, umbrellas, and even bikes for a pleasant island ride.

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No worries if you can’t lay still for too long. There’s a vibrant marina and local eateries to explore.

When thinking of the best beaches in Charleston, South Carolina. Isle of Palms inevitably comes to mind.

Sullivan’s Island

Photo from @sullivans_island_sc

History enthusiasts would be interested to know that Edgar Allan Poe was once stationed here, and his legacy lingers with a local tavern named in his honor as one of the best beaches in Charleston, SC. 

Sullivan’s Island promises peacebeauty, and literary nostalgia.

If you’re yearning for a beach with spacious sands, look no further than Sullivan’s Island. This beach boasts a vast stretch of sand, complemented by the gentle embrace of warm waves – an absolute haven for relaxation, taking a refreshing dip, or having fun-filled playtimes with the little ones.

The Island offers a splash of water sports for those with a penchant for adventure. From stand-up paddle boarding and kite surfing to windsurfing, there’s no shortage of thrill here.

But if serene moments are more your style, find a cozy spot and watch the sun gently set over the harbor. With boats and ships gracefully sailing by, it’s a picturesque scene you won’t forget anytime soon.

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Kiawah Island

Photo from @kiawahislandliving

Kiawah Island, a private gem, is renowned for its untouched beauty and diverse wildlife.

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Want a mix of luxury and natural beauty? Head to Kiawah Island. Famous for its top-notch golf courses, its beaches are equally stellar.

With 10 miles of oceanfront, it’s great for walks, jogs, and birdwatching.

The gentle waves are kid-friendly too. Simply put, it’s one of Charleston, SC’s best beaches.

Why wait?

Edisto Beach

best beaches near Charleston, SC.

Just about an hour from Charleston, Edisto Beach on Edisto Island offers a tranquil escape from the everyday hustle. Boasting untouched stretches of sand, it provides a serene setting perfect for swimming, surfing, shelling, and fishing.

The Edisto Beach State Park is right around the corner for those who enjoy more structured outdoor activities.

It features diverse trails for explorers, convenient campsites for overnight adventurers, cozy cabins for longer stays, and a nature center for the curious.

I can categorically boast of it as one of the best beaches near Charleston, SC.

Bottomline

Charleston’s beauty isn’t just limited to its historic downtown. A short drive in any direction takes you to some of the most breathtaking shores on the East Coast. 

Whether you’re seeking adventurerelaxation, or a bit of both, the best beaches in Charleston await you with open arms (and sandy shores!). 

So, grab your sunscreen, pack that novel you’ve been meaning to read, and let Charleston’s beaches sweep you off your feet.

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I'm Ian, a travel blogger with a background in publishing. My hobby is exploring new places, and here, I share my discoveries from quaint towns and bustling cities. Each trip inspires my next post, inviting you to join me on this exciting journey.