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Which Beach is Best?  The Beaches of Charleston SC

What beaches are near Charleston?
Three public beaches are in close proximity to downtown Charleston: Folly Beach, the Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island.

How far are they from downtown Charleston and how do I get to them?
They are all about a 20-minute drive.  Reference our maps for driving directions.

Which Beach Is Best?
That all depends on your need and preferences.

Alcohol Rules
Note that alcohol is banned on all beaches. Consume at your own risk!

Lifeguard Beaches
If you'd like a beach with Lifeguards then head to the County Park Beaches.
- Isle of Palms County Park, located at 1-14th Avenue.
- Folly Beach Fishing Pier Area, between 4th Street to West 3rd Street East.
- Kiawah Beachwalker Park, on Beachwalker Drive.

Folly Beach
- This barrier island is laid back and known as the “Edge of America,” with a unique culture and the best waves of all the beaches.
- Alcohol has been banned on the beach.
- A great pier - you can see the Morris Island Lighthouse from the northern end of the island.
- Parking can be a problem if you arrive after 11am during the busy season, but it’s still manageable.
- There are many beach shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance.

Isle of Palms
- The most commercialized beach with many shops, places to eat, bars and public restrooms.
- Certified as a Blue Wave Beach because it meets the criteria related to cleanliness, safety and access to the public for the tenth year in a row.
- Parking is more abundant, $6 or $7 per day.
- More families frequent IOP because of their strict alcohol rules and atmosphere.

Sullivans Island
- Good mix of locals and visitors.
- Best described as undisturbed and natural.
- Parking can be a problem if you arrive after 10am.  There are no public parking lots - street parking only.
- No public restrooms and alcohol is not permitted.

What about dogs?
- All dogs must be on a leash at all times on all beaches.
- Folly:  Allowed if leashed - prohibited from May 1 - Sept 30 between 10am-5pm.
- Isle of Palms:  Allowed if leashed.
- Sullivans - Must have a Sullivans issued dog license.  Sunday mornings is a doggie “free for all”, may be off leash but within voice command of the owner.
- Clean up bags are available at all beaches.  Please use them or risk receiving a hefty fine.
family at folly beach sc

Folly Beach
Isle of Palms
Sullivans Island

How to Choose the a beach that serves your needs best

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