South Carolina is a popular playground for vacationers from all over the United States.

Filled with pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and dense maritime forests, the state boasts several famous resort areas.

Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach are some of the most well-known beach destinations in South Carolina, but beach lovers can find plenty of other spots to soak in some stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the best South Carolina beaches.

1. Best South Carolina Beaches: Isle of Palms

Best South Carolina Beaches: Isle of Palms
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Isle of Palms is an upscale resort area located 12 miles from downtown Charleston.

Surrounded by several iconic seaside destinations, Isle of Palms is home to nearly 3,000 acres of homes, stores, beaches, and parks and prides itself on being the perfect getaway for travelers of all ages.

There are a handful of classy hotels and inns located on Isle of Palms as well as a large golf course, while Wild Dunes Resort, a highly exclusive community of rental apartments and homes, is located directly on the beach.

Isle of Palms holds exciting events and festivals throughout the year, and visitors have plenty of opportunities to stay entertained.

2. Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolina
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Folly Beach is a popular place for watersports like boating, kayaking, and surfing. Known as ‘the Edge of America’, boat tours near Folly Beach take guests to several picturesque areas.

The backwaters of Folly Island and the Morris Island Lighthouse are a couple points of interest along the way.

To get more time out on the water, visitors can sign up for sailing lessons with local instructors. Fishing is another popular activity at Folly Beach and there are areas for deep-sea fishing, pier fishing, river fishing, and more.

Paddleboarding, bicycling, camping, and picnicking are some of the other fun pastimes visitors can enjoy at Folly Beach.

3. SC Beaches: Hilton Head Island

SC Beaches: Hilton Head Island
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Celebrated as one of the premiere vacation spots on the East Coast, Hilton Head Island is filled with pristine beaches, spacious parks, and beautiful scenic areas. In total, Hilton Head boasts more than 12 miles of tranquil beaches.

Travelers can stay busy by indulging in a myriad of fun activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, paddleboarding, boating, fishing, and playing among the beachside sand dunes.

Many of Hilton Head's beaches have designated photographers who are on hand to capture special moments among families and friends. Since the island was built to accommodate tourists, it is easy to get from place to place.

Visitors will have no problem finding restaurants, nightlife, and family-friendly entertainment. Things to Do on Hilton Head Island

4. Best South Carolina Beaches: Huntington Beach State Park

Best South Carolina Beaches: Huntington Beach State Park
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Huntington Beach State Park is an ideal destination for a getaway with family and friends. All kinds of fun activities, such as swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and wildlife spotting, are available at this picturesque state park. The park also has wireless Internet access, restrooms, picnic areas, and a beachside gift shop for guests' convenience.

There are areas within the park for camping and all parts of Huntington Beach State Park are pet friendly. Huntington Beach State Park is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily throughout the year. Admission rates are not more than $5, and children under the age of five can enter the park for free.

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5. Edisto Beach, South Carolina

Edisto Beach, South Carolina
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Known as one of the few non-commercialized beaches in South Carolina, Edisto Beach is a tranquil destination for individuals, honeymooners, and families.

The beach is lined with cozy vacation rentals, upscale restaurants, and other fun attractions. Edisto Beach boasts plenty of spots for camping, bicycling, playing golf, and fishing.

Visitors can go on boat tours to enjoy views of the coastline and take walks along the pier for gorgeous sunset vistas.

Swimming is permitted at Edisto Beach, but visitors enter the water at their own risk as there are no lifeguards on duty. Edisto Beach also has lots of scenic spots for wedding and family photography.

6. South Carolina Beaches: Kiawah Island

South Carolina Beaches: Kiawah Island
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Kiawah Island sits just 25 miles from downtown Charleston.

Known for its thriving tourism industry and natural beauty, Kiawah Island is a popular destination for families, couples, and individuals. Maritime forests, rolling sand dunes, and carefully preserved marshes are some of the main attractions in the area.

At the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean while playing on one of the area's premier golf courses.

Four other golf courses are located on Kiawah Island, and there are multiple hotels and vacation rentals spread throughout the town.

7. Romantic SC Beaches: Murrells Inlet

Romantic SC Beaches: Murrells Inlet
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Murrells Inlet is a historical little fishing town situated 10 miles from Myrtle Beach.

Beloved by artists, solace-seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts, Murrells Inlet is in the midst of a revitalization effort to attract more residents, travelers, and businesses with its Murrells Inlet 2020 plan.

For tourists, there are plenty of hotels in the area as well as restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, and parks.

Murrells Inlet holds exciting events throughout the year to celebrate holidays and to bring the community together for good causes. A calendar of upcoming events is available on the Murrells Inlet website. More ideas: South Carolina Islands

8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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Known as one of South Carolina's best beaches, Myrtle Beach is the perfect spot for a family vacation. On the beach itself, tourists can enjoy an array of watersports, including parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, SCUBA diving, and surfing.

There are also plenty of safe spots for swimming and wading. In the town of Myrtle Beac, guests will find all types of accommodation along with a range of restaurants, entertainment venues, parks, and day trips.

Myrtle Beach is famous for its 50+ mini golf courses and Family Kingdom Amusement Park. For adventures outside the city limits, guests can join a local ATV or Jeep tour.

9. Seabrook Island Beach, South Carolina

Seabrook Island Beach, South Carolina
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Seabrook Island is home to a 4-mile stretch of white sand beach. The island itself is divided into two beaches, Pelican Beach and North Beach.

Most people head to Pelican to see some of the most spectacular sunsets on the East Coast, while North Beach is equally popular for its dramatic sunrises and rolling sand dunes.

Other attractions on Seabrook Island include a large equestrian center, a tournament-style tennis court, and two championship golf courses.

Despite being a short drive from Charleston, Seabrook Island manages to maintain its beauty and quiet charm.

10. SC Beaches: Surfside

SC Beaches: Surfside
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Surfside Beach is celebrated as the top family destination in South Carolina.

This lengthy white sand beach can be accessed from 36 different points around the city.

Surfside Beach has a long pier lined with restaurants and fishing areas as well as a rental area where guests can pick up umbrellas and beach chairs for a small fee.

Watersports, fishing, beachcombing, and sunbathing are favorite pastimes among guests.

There are hotels, resorts, inns, and vacation rentals surrounding the beach, and visitors can find all sorts of restaurants and entertainment venues in the town of Surfside. More ideas: Romantic Weekend Getaways in SC

What are the 10 Best South Carolina Beaches?

The 10 Best South Carolina Beaches according to local experts are:

Attraction Spotlight: Brookgreen Gardens

Located near the popular Murrells Inlet in South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens is a 15 mile stretch of art collections and wildlife. Between Brookgreen Gardens’ seamless mixture of art, wildlife, and horticulture, it’s easy to understand why they are one of the top gardens to visit in the United States.

The current Brookgreen Gardens sits on the site of what used to be known as the following rice plantations: Brookgreen, Laurel Hill, The Oaks, and Springfield. Joshua John Ward, who is regarded as the person who owned the most slaves within America, owned and operated the Brookgreen Plantation. Currently, only a few artifacts remain from the plantations. These relics include the Alston cemetery, which is located on The Oaks grounds, and the Laurel Hill rice mill.

In 1929, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington visited the property of what would become Brookgreen Gardens. Soon after visiting the property, the Huntingtons fell in love with it and decided to purchase the land. Initially, the land was going to be used to build a vacation home for their family, but Archer and Anna decided the landscape would be the perfect place to display Anna’s sculptures.

Brookgreen Gardens is known for their diverse display of gardens, sculptures, and mini zoo. While not much information is available about what the exact gardens layout is, prospective visitors can look on the Gardens’ website for information about seasonal blooms. People planning to travel to the Brookgreen Gardens during spring 2017 can expect to see:

· Daffodils

· Columbine

· Iris

· Atamasco Lilly

· Native Azalea

· Banana Shrub

· Rose

· Chinese Fringe Tree

· Grandaddy Graybeard

· Native Wisteria

· Evergreen Clematis

Throughout the gardens, visitors can explore a variety of architectural elements, as well as a wide variety of renowned sculptures. Some of the sculptures displayed throughout Brookgreen Gardens include:

· “Griffin” by Paul Howard Manship

· “Reaching” by William EvAngelos Frudakis

· “Tortoise Fountain” by Janet Scudder

· “Diana” by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

After touring the gardens and sculptures, visitors can explore the zoo. Here is a quick overview of the habitats and animals within the zoo:

Native Animals is home to a variety of animals that call the Lowcountry home. These animals include; alligators, bald eagles, owls, and grey foxes.

Dalton and Linda Floyd Domestic Animals is home to an array of animals who are considered “historic rare breeds”. These animals help tell the history of Brookgreen. Some of the animals within this habitat include; marsh tacky horses, tunis sheep, wild turkeys, and Dominique chickens.

Cypress Aviary is home to a variety of wildlife that live around a natural cypress swamp. This exhibit is the only aviary of its kind, as it didn’t have to build a man-made cypress swamp. Some of the animals within this habitat include; egrets, black-crowned night herons, hooded merganser, great blue herons, and ibises.

Brookgreen Gardens offers a variety of educational opportunities on a daily basis. The educational programs at Brookgreen Gardens are divided among three categories: animals, gardens and sculpture, and history.

Every day, Brookgreen Gardens offers two presentation workshops in which visitors can interact with and learn more about the animals at the Gardens. Mother Nature’s Café is a complete walkthrough of the Zoo, in which a specially trained employee interprets and explains the behaviors of some of the animals within the Zoo, as they give the animals their daily snacks. Right after Mother Nature’s Café, visitors can participate in Meet the Animals, in which they have the opportunity to learn more about a few animals in a close and personal way.

As for gardens and sculptures, garden tours occur on a daily basis. Since garden tours give visitors an opportunity to learn more about the gardens and sculptures, and they are free with admission, every visitor should take advantage of them. Other than garden tours, visitors are encouraged to participate in one of the workshops or classes at the Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. Center for American Sculpture. The classes within this Center are geared for people who are interested in sculpture and art, and want to perfect their skills.

Lastly, visitors can participate in one of the numerous options for learning more about Brookgreen Gardens’ history. Three of the main historical educational opportunities are the; Pontoon Boat Rides, Lowcountry Trail, and Oaks Plantation History and Nature Excursion. Each tour allows visitors to learn more about the history of Brookgreen Gardens, the former plantations it sits on, and Southern history in general.

For more information about any of the educational opportunities at Brookgreen Gardens, visit the Gardens’ official website, or contact them during their hours of operation.

1931 Brookgreen Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, Phone: 843-235-6000

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Attraction Spotlight: Freshfields Village

Freshfields Village, situated just beyond the gates of Seabrook Islands and Kiawah, provides everything visitors may need to make their vacation complete. The Village Market, a grocery store in the village, serves as an anchor for Freshfields Village. This store combines thoughtful selection of food and Southern hospitality for people with refined tastes. Along with daily essential, the remarkable Village Market offers select cuts of meat and a variety of fresh local produce, making “cooking in” a much more attractive choice during visitors’ stay on Kiawah Island than many other vacation spots.

Freshfields Village on Kiawah Island in South Carolina also consists of a broad array of one-of-a-kind shops, including many clothing stores, shoe stores, and shops that sell accessories. Visitors will also find stores selling various home decor items, a toy store, a sporting goods shop, and a bookstore among several other shops. There are retail options for just about everyone.

An array of dining options can also be found within Kiawah Island’s Freshfields Village, including a fine dining restaurant, a sports bar, an Italian restaurant, a deli, and a coffee shop. There is just about any service-oriented businesses that visitors may need in the Village as well. Such necessary establishments include a pharmacy, a gas station, a medical facility, a wine shop, a carway, banks, a hair salon, and a liquor store. More the sixty events are held at Freshfields Market as well every year. With events that include cultural performances, the season Farmers Market, outdoor movies and concerts, and cultural festivals, the Village is well known for its family-friendly, dynamic, and fun atmosphere.

Kiawah Island, as well as the islands that surround it, offer some great opportunities for shopping. Visitors and locals alike will find anything from designer clothes to outdoor furniture to antiques from Europe. Bakers, butchers, and even candlestick makers can be found in the Freshfields Village, as well as offices of doctors, home service experts, engineers, dentists, architects, builders, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and decorators. Visitors interested buying a home on the island can stop by the Kiawah Island Real Estate offices. Kiawah Island Real Estate is the only real estate company on the entire island.

For visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation, anything from golf clubs to bicycles can be repaired by experts on Kiawah Island. Visitors celebrating a birthday can purchase a specially made birthday cake, made by an actual pastry chef. For weddings, or simply just a night out, guests can step into the hair salon at Freshfields Village and maybe try a new hairstyle for the event.

An original print or piece of art makes a great souvenir from a visit to Kiawah Island. A variety of artwork can be found at the shops at Freshfields Village, and visitors can have the art framed or shipped to their house without having to leave the island. Visitors won’t have to drive all the way to Charleston in order to find a quality piece of unique pottery, designer clothing, jewelry, and sculpture. Freshfields Village has easily become the new mecca for shopping in the area with its numerous new stores.

165 Village Green Lane, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Phone: 843-768-6491

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Attraction Spotlight: Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in Hardeeville

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina was named after the Pinckney family, who established a successful cotton plantation here. The land later became a nature preserve in 1975 after the family donated it to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which dedicated the island to conservation.

The refuge itself spans 4,053 acres and is made up of a diverse range of different habitats, such as freshwater ponds, fallow field, forestland, salt marsh, and bushland, which are home to over 250 different species of bird throughout the year. Several types of these shorebirds can be spotted wading in the salt marsh near the entrance.

The refuge does not have any form of facilities or a visitor centre, but it does provide many opportunities for observing wildlife and there are well over 14 miles of bicycling and hiking trails for you to explore. There are often guided walking tours of the island by trained local groups, who offer environmental education as well a history of the refuge. Another popular activity on the island is wildlife and landscape photography and hundreds of budding photographers visit every year to do just that; you can even enter the photographs you take in a free yearly competition. There are 3 levels to enter at, namely professional, amateur, and beginner and there are prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, so get snapping.

Some of the animals you may encounter during your hike include the white ibis, a freshwater bird you will most likely spot wading around the salt marsh. The salt marsh itself makes up 67% of the island. The white ibis’ distinctive features include their white feathers and a long, curved beak.

A rare, but not completely out of the ordinary, sight on the islands are bobcats, a large nocturnal cat that is one of the many predators at the refuge. The bobcat has very big paws and can bounce up to 10 feet; they are well known for catching prey much larger than they are.

Another popular sight are the painted bunting birds and, due to their brightly colored feathers, they are very hard to miss. Sadly, the population of these beautiful songbirds is on the decline due to them being illegally captured and traded as well as the loss of their habitat during land development. However, the refuge provides some hope for the species, as it offers a protected environment for the birds to breed in.

Visitors are advised to be aware while exploring the refuge as it is not just the flies, gnats, and mosquitos that will want to bite you. There are also snakes that may be hiding amongst the undergrowth, not to mention the fact that you may even come face to face with an alligator, so be sure to keep your eyes open and keep your distance if you do see any.

Opening Hours

The site opens every day at sunrise closes at sunset. No overnight stays are permitted.


694 Beech Hill Lane, Hardeeville, SC 29927, Phone: 843-784-2468