Charleston boasts five barrier islands within minutes of downtown, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Folly, Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island. Each beachfront community has a unique feel and vibe for the residents who call it home. From famous artists, writers, and poets to surfers or industry tycoons, there is a fit for everyone.
Only 20 minutes from downtown Charleston sits Sulllivan’s Island, a quaint, charming, artsy community and barrier island. Situated next to Isle of Palms, it is easily accessible to Mount Pleasant via the Ben Sawyer Bridge Highway 703 or the Isle of Palms Connector Highway 526. Steeped in history, the island is the home of Fort Moultrie, originally built during the Revolutionary War, and the picturesque Sullivan’s Island lighthouse. Edgar Allen Poe wrote his famous story, The Gold Bug, while stationed here. Home to nearly 2,000 residents, including lowcountry authors and artists, the island has no motels or short-term rentals. Homes vary from classic beach cottages to aesthetically pleasing new construction and renovations. Only a single, one-block section of the three-mile long island is zoned commercial, so there is a distinctive neighborly atmosphere here, and most residents travel quiet island streets in golf carts. Sullivan’s Island home owners enjoy eating out in a relaxed island atmosphere to some of the area’s best dining experiences at The Obstinate Daughter and Salt at Station 22 restaurants. Don’t want to take off the sunglasses and flip-flops? Poe’s Tavern, Home Team BBQ, and Dunleavy’s Irish Pub offer relaxed and cozy outdoor seating for island people watching. Added to this mix of great restaurants and bars are art shops and a centrally located park with basketball, tennis, soccer facilities and a play park for children.
Isle of Palms is a seven-mile long, one-mile wide barrier island which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. It is an affluent community with approximately 5,000 full-time residents and vacation home owners with large beachfront homes or small beach condos. No matter where you live on Isle of Palms, you can walk to the beach. Just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and 5 minutes from Mount Pleasant, this laid-back, beach town offers endless recreation opportunities, including bike and hiking paths, sandy beaches, playgrounds, ball fields, tennis, golf and organized sports. The city also has an oceanfront county park in the center of the island. There are marinas and boat landings to accommodate the most avid boaters. From the Isle of Palms, there are great day trips offered that include a trip to Dewees Island or Capers where you can enjoy and experience South Carolina’s Coastal natural habitat. While the island maintains its small-town feel with a grocery store and two shopping centers, it is also convenient to major shopping in Mount Pleasant via the Isle of Palms Connector Highway 526.
Wild Dunes is located on 1,500 acres of the north side of Isle of Palms, buffered by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Just 20 minutes north of downtown Charleston and 5 minutes from Mount Pleasant, this gated resort community offers many types of ocean front housing, including private residences, as well as condominiums often rented on the vacation rental market. The development of Wild Dunes began in 1972 when Finch properties purchased the site completely undeveloped. The property remained in its original, natural state until sold to the Sea Pines Company of Hilton Head Island, a developer of planned communities, who was responsible for the planning, zoning, and development of the site. Today, the Wild Dunes resort offers residents two 18-hole Tom Fazio golf courses, with views of the ocean, as well as 17 Har-Tru courts, a first class fitness center, and 20 pools. In fact, Wild Dunes was ranked by Tennis Magazine as one of the United State’s top 10 tennis resorts 9 years in a row. The premier facility is the four-star Boardwalk Inn and Grand Pavilion, which features three pools and a pavilion overlooking the beach and Atlantic Ocean. From casual cafes to upscale restaurants, there are a handful of dining options to choose from at the resort. Shopping is near, and one is in close proximity to the Isle of Palms Marina for boating fun.
Folly Beach is a barrier island, six miles long and the closest beach to downtown Charleston, approximately 15 minutes via the Connector. Locals refer to Folly Beach as the “Edge of America”. Despite its enormous popularity, it’s still the Charleston beach that is most affordable for buying real estate. On the eastern tip of the island, you’ll find an outstanding view of the Morris Island Lighthouse. The Edwin S. Taylor fishing pier, which is 24 feet wide and extends more than 1,045 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, hosts fishing tournaments, and if you want to fish, you can rent everything you need at the shop on the Pier. One of the big draws for Folly Beach is its 600+ acre beach front county park that holds some 2,500 feet of ocean frontage. One can rent bikes, beach equipment, and easily access the fishing pier. Folly Beach is also one the top spots for surfing on the east coast, hosting a number of surfing contests every year, including the Wahine Contest in May. The “Washout” is considered the best waves on the beach. The water fun expands to parasailing, water-skiing, surf-fishing or just plain sun worshiping. Local business owners have done a great job of revitalizing the center of town. Dive restaurants and beachy themed shops make Folly Beach a fun place to live.
Kiawah Island is another private, oceanfront, award-winning, master planned community on a coastal barrier island roughly 21 miles South of downtown Charleston. Situated next to Seabrook Island, this is truly first class resort living! Kiawah offers something for everyone with homes, townhomes and villas with golf, water and marsh views, as well as luxurious Oceanfront views. You design your own home because all lots and homes are individually owned. Guided by a respect for nature and a strong emphasis on preservation of serene landscapes, Kiawah’s developer states that they have worked for decades to nurture the Island’s maritime forests, sand dunes, tidal creeks, ponds, rivers and marshes as well as the visual allure of its 10-mile beach. 18 species of mammals, more than 30 species of reptiles, and up to 300 species of birds share the habitat. Amenities are almost too many to name. Travel + Leisure Golf magazine recently named Kiawah the “No. 1 Golf Resort in the US.” Five of the Island’s courses are part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, and two are reserved for members of the Kiawah Island Club and their guests. The tennis program at Kiawah Island Golf & Tennis Resort is highly recognized. Members enjoy four terraced Har-Tru courts at the Sports Pavilion, and red clay (rubicon) courts at The River Course. With more than 30 miles of biking and hiking trails, kayaking, canoeing, and birdwatching areas, 123 acres of parks, and 10 miles of secluded beach, Kiawah Island lets you get out and play. Right outside of the gates, one can enjoy a full range of shopping at the very upscale Freshfields Village for everything from groceries to jewelry and home furnishings to restaurants. Year round events are hosted here with live music and fun for all. If boating and fishing is your pleasure, spend time at Seabrook Island’s Bohicket Marina for boat storage, fishing charters, boat and kayak rentals.
Seabrook Island is a private oceanfront community on a coastal barrier island roughly 21 miles South of downtown Charleston. This is truly first class resort living! Seabrook is home to lush forest, marshes and some of the longest, widest and most pristine beaches in the Lowcountry. The island is carefully designed, offering homes, townhomes and villas with golf, water and marsh views, as well as luxurious Oceanfront views. With no developers, you design your own home because all lots and homes are individually owned. Amenities include two championship golf courses, a world class tennis center with 15 professionally maintained clay courts available year-round, a 22-acre equestrian center with 42 stalls and 3 miles of trails, a community boat ramp and crabbing dock, and a brand new beach club and lake house. The Lake House is a 27,500 sq. ft. community facility overlooking Palmetto Lake. Completed in 2009, it is a true community gathering place. Property owners and their guests can enjoy a fitness facility with indoor heated pool, wellness programs, an outdoor zero-entry pool, basketball courts, a playground, and the Seabrook Island Library. The Seabrook Island Clubhouse provides for both informal after golf dining in Bohicket’s Lounge or a relaxed, but slightly more formal evening in the Palmetto Room. Want to enjoy a pina colada by the ocean? You can at the open air Pelican’s Nest restaurant and bar, situated right next to two beach side pools offering complimentary towel services, convenient beach access, an indoor arcade and a retail shop for all your summer beachwear and accessory needs. Right outside of the gates, one can enjoy a full range of shopping at the very upscale Freshfields Village for everything from groceries to jewelry and home furnishings to restaurants. Year round events are hosted here with live music and fun for all. If boating and fishing is your pleasure, spend time at Seabrook Island’s Bohicket Marina for boat storage, fishing charters, boat and kayak rentals.