Tourism is a $20.2 billion industry in South Carolina for many reasons: the culture, historical landmarks, food, and, of course, the fantastic beaches. With 187 miles of coastline, you have hundreds of beaches to choose from for a beautiful sunny day in the sand.
But we all know the disappointment of arriving at a beach that's subpar: rocky, shady, not enough activity, and so on. We're going to go over the top seven beaches in South Carolina so you won't be disappointed when you arrive at the destination.
Whether you like pure sunbathing relaxation, a day with the family, or surfing the waves, there's a beach on this list for you.
1. Myrtle Beach
You probably could have guessed that we would put Myrtle Beach first, but that isn't just because of who we are: it indeed is one of the most popular beaches in South Carolina.
Not only is the beach itself an excellent spot for families and sunbathers, but it's also perfect for water sports, scuba diving, swimming, and more!
That being said, it's a popular tourist destination, which means you're likely going to be surrounded by many other people. If you don't mind sharing the waves, then Myrtle Beach is a top-notch option for a sunny day.
Once you've had your fill of sandcastles and diving in the warm Atlantic water, you'll have plenty to do right off the beach. Myrtle Beach's boardwalk is well-known for many fun activities including:
- The Skywheel
- Pubs and bars
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum
- Food galore
A trip to Myrtle Beach will give you a full day of summer fun beyond the sea and sand.
2. Folly Beach
If water sports are your thing, then Folly Beach is for you. Boating, kayaking, swimming, surfing, and kayaking are all super popular at this South Carolina beach. Surfing schools often come to Folly for the natural beginner waves (except when there's been a recent storm!).
You can even sign up for boating and kayaking tours where you can go fishing, scuba diving, dolphin watching, or enjoy a day on the water.
Fishing is another activity that Folly Beach is known for. If you're looking to reel in an impressive catch, try deep-sea fishing. You can also fish off the famous fishing pier in the nearby rivers.
The mix of locals and tourists here will give you an authentic South Carolina experience.
3. Isle of Palms
The action of Myrtle and Folly are too much for some people. If that sounds like you, try out the relaxing and lowkey Isle of Palms beaches.
Known for the luxurious homes and resorts, this location is a short way from Charleston. The quick trip there will be worth it for the relaxing peace you'll get.
This place is perfect for those looking to unwind by the water with a romance novel and a vat of sunscreen. You can also easily explore the island via bike or golf cart (the preferred mode of transportation) for a fun family adventure.
4. Huntington Beach State Park
If relaxation and sunbathing sounds a bit too dull for you, try out a beach that's chock full of activities and adventures. We recommend the Huntington Beach, State Park.
As the name suggests, this beach is also a state park, so you'll need to pay an admission fee. It's only $5, though, and you'll get access to swimming, fishing, hiking, boating, wildlife tours, and more. Kids under five get in free!
You'll also have access to picnic areas, bathrooms, WiFi, and gift shops, making this spot perfect for families and tourists.
5. Edisto Beach
Many destinations we've gone over so far are going to be teeming with tourists, families, young children, and generally crowded areas.
Edisto Beach is the opposite of that: it's known for being tranquil, peaceful, and one of the least commercialized beaches in all of South Carolina.
This spot is perfect for couples on romantic getaways, small families, or those looking for some quiet solitude. You can go for one of the picturesque beachside vacation homes in the area or take a day trip to more popular beaches.
It's also known for being upscale, so you can leave the beach for a five-star romantic dinner, sunset boat tours, and peaceful spots for camping under the stars.
6. Hilton Head Beach
Speaking of upscale, Hilton Head is a well-known luxurious vacation spot and a top destination on the entire East coast. It's both commercial and Myrtle-Beach-like while also being tranquil and Edisto-Beach-like.
Hilton Head is an excellent combination of calm and exciting with something for everyone. Water sports like paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, boating, and surfing will keep the adventurous ones busy, while the rolling dunes, miles of calm beaches, and gorgeous oceans views will keep everyone happy and relaxed.
You're also close to great nightlife, restaurants, and activities right off the beach as well.
7. Kiawah Island
And lastly, we have the gorgeous Kiawah Island. Along with the excellent access to water sports/activities and miles of beach to kick back in a chair and relax, Kiawah Island is known for its wildlife and natural beauty.
Dunes, maritime forests, marshes, and (of course) the sea are all accessible for touring. You can spot wildlife in their habitat, take gorgeous snapshots of the natural beauty, and take long walks on the beach.
Kiawah is also known for four spectacular golf courses if you need to shield yourself from another sunburn.
Best Beaches in South Carolina: Which Will You Visit First?
While this list of beaches in South Carolina is far from a comprehensive one, these are the top ones you want to check out. Each of them is known for different things, so try them all out for a different adventure each time.
Have you decided which you want to visit? Too impatient to wait for summer to roll around? There are still plenty of activities to do in the winter.
Check out this article for a list of winter activities in Myrtle Beach to get you started on your winter vacation itinerary!