20 South Carolina Beaches

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South Carolina is well-known for its beaches along the Grand Strand, a sixty-mile (97 km) section that stretches from Little River south to Winyah Bay. The city of Myrtle Beach dominates this area. Numerous resorts, hotels, vacation rentals and condos provide ample places for more than 20 million people visiting the beaches of South Carolina each year. Golf courses dot the area bringing in golfers year-round, and the Grand Strand is a shopper’s paradise. An airport in Myrtle Beach makes it easy for visitors to get to this area.

The South Carolina coast also has barrier islands and coastal areas that offer beautiful beaches and quiet retreats away from the crowds found along the Grand Strand. These beaches in South Carolina allow visitors to get closer to nature and enjoy its beauty. So it doesn’t matter what type of beach vacation you’re looking for, there’s bound to be a beach in South Carolina for you.

South Carolina Beaches

Top 3 South Carolina Beach Attractions

best south carolina beaches Shot of a man and his young son at the beach with their surfboards.
Several South Carolina beaches are great for surfing.

20 Beaches in South Carolina

1- Myrtle Beach

myrtle beach south carolina beaches
Myrtle Beach is a famous South Carolina beach.

Myrtle Beach is the most famous and popular beach destination in South Carolina.

There’s space to spread out and enjoy building sandcastles, swimming, boogie boarding, and body surfing on its beautiful white-sand beaches.

Many beach activities can be found at Myrtle Beach, such as parasailing, jet skiing, surfing, and SCUBA diving. It’s a great beach to learn to surf.

Family-friendly and adult-themed attractions and activities can also be found here, which is why this beach draws millions of visitors each year.

Shopping along the boardwalk, visiting the Hollywood Wax Museum, having fun at the Family Kingdom Amusement Park and going to a Polynesian Fire Luau dinner show are some of the most popular activities for families with kids.

In addition, Myrtle Beach has many miniature golf courses and seafood restaurants.

There are so many activities and attractions for children and adults of all ages that there is usually not enough time to fit it all in during a week’s vacation.

This is why so many visitors return to Myrtle Beach year after year.

2- Surfside Beach

pictures of the beach in myrtle beach, south carolina
Myrtle Beach is one of the best beaches in South Carolina for families.

Surfside Beach is along the Grand Strand, just south of Myrtle Beach.

This part of the Grand Strand is less crowded than Myrtle Beach but still has much to offer visitors.

More than 20 public access points to the beach allow visitors to spread out on the wide beaches.

When kids get tired of playing in the ocean, families can visit the nearby Wild Water and Wheels Park, slide down waterslides, or ride go-karts.

Mini-golf courses in Surfside also give families a break from the water fun.

This kid-friendly beach offers budget-friendly accommodations at the Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

Golf courses in this area also draw golfers from all over year-round who want to play on the many courses within easy driving distance.

Families can enjoy a relaxing beach vacation with many activities at Surfside geared towards kids. Book a surfing lesson here.

3- North Myrtle Beach

North Myrtle Beach is a large town just north of Myrtle Beach in the part of the Grand Strand that is less crowded than Myrtle Beach.

It also has less of a party vibe than Myrtle Beach and appeals more to families with young children.

Visitors to North Myrtle Beach enjoy wide open beaches perfect for hunting shells and shark teeth.

The waves are ideal for kids who want to swim and boogie board.

Off the beach, the Tanger Outlets attract shoppers looking for good deals at many popular stores.

Barefoot Landing is also nearby, with a variety of charming shops, restaurants, and attractions perfect for families.

The Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing educates visitors about these sleek reptiles.

Mini golf and seafood restaurants line the main road of North Myrtle Beach.

4- Cherry Grove Beach

Cherry Grove Beach is a small section of beach in a neighbourhood between Little River and North Myrtle Beach.

This South Carolina beach has a laid-back vibe and attracts beach lovers who don’t care as much about the shopping and attractions.

Most visitors to Cherry Grove enjoy hunting for shells and shark teeth and building sandcastles.

The soft sand invites children to build castles and dig holes all day or splash in the gentle surf.

Cherry Grove also attracts anglers who want to try to catch a record sportfish, as so many other anglers have done and the pier at Cherry Grove is a great place to do so.

The channels of Cherry Grove Inlet are a beautiful place to kayak or paddleboard.

Fishing in the Inlet is also good, particularly for species such as drum, flounder, and redfish.

5- Litchfield Beach

Litchfield Beach is south of Surfside Beach on the Grand Strand and is far less crowded than the beaches closer to Myrtle Beach.

The beaches here are wide and beautiful.

Because there are no large resorts, the beach seems to stretch forever, uninterrupted, bordered only by beach cottages.

Only two public access points can be found at Litchfield Beach, and parking can get full.

If you want to enjoy sunbathing and swimming, plan to arrive early to get a spot.

Three large golf courses are located in Litchfield Beach, making this a popular place for golfers.

In addition, visitors who like to be more active can enjoy walking, biking, or running along the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway.

This 26-mile (42 km) pathway stretches from Murrells Inlet to Huntington Beach State Park.

6- Murrells Inlet

top beaches in south carolina aerial view of peninsula with beach and buildings in Murrells Inlet
For a South Carolina beach with character, head to Murrells Inlet.

Murrells Inlet is a traditional fishing town north of Myrtle Beach and is often referred to as the seafood capital of South Carolina.

This area does not have a traditional sandy shoreline area like many of the other beaches along the Grand Strand.

However, Murrells Inlet has a unique charm and is a popular destination for those who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Kayaking is the most popular activity in this area, along with stand-up paddleboarding (try this tour).

In addition, you can book deep sea fishing tours out of Murrells Inlet in search of a variety of sport fish.

The MarshWalk is a beautiful walk through the vibrant town that connects people with excellent seafood restaurants, shops, and live entertainment.

Visitors to Murrells Inlet should walk along the Lowcountry Trail in the BrookGreen Gardens past one of the world’s largest collections of American sculptures.

7- Coligny Beach at Hilton Head Island

beaches near beaufort south carolina
Boats in the harbour town of South Beach in Hilton Head.

Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island is a fabulous beach for families as it’s clean, with space for families to spread out.

This beach offers many amenities, such as changing areas and a nice park with comfortable seating.

The path to the beach is accessible to strollers, wheelchairs and walkers, allowing them to get to the water.

You can hire umbrellas, and beach lounges and lifeguards patrol this beach, making it safe for kids to swim while parents relax.

Coligny Plaza has snack stands and souvenir shops right next to the beach.

Visitors can rent bikes to access the beach if they do not want to try to find parking, or they can use the shuttle service available during peak season.

8- Burkes Beach at Hilton Head

beaches in south carolina surfer silhoutte at dusk
Looking for surfing beaches n South Carolina? Check out our list for several.

Burkes Beach is the most relaxed and laid-back beach on Hilton Head Island.

This beach is quite secluded and requires a short hike to reach.

No resorts or restaurants sit next to the beach, which means the sand stays clean and open.

Dog-friendly hours for this beach are in the morning and the evening.

Burkes Beach is often referred to as the “locals’ beach” and is popular with surfers and surf fishermen.

Visitors to this beach enjoy the uncrowded sand and water compared to the crowding at other beaches during the peak season.

There are few amenities at Burkes Beach, but outdoor showers and bathrooms are available in the parking lot.

A sand mat from the parking lot to the beach makes it easier to hike to the water, particularly for families pushing a stroller or a wheelchair.

9- Mitchelville Beach Park at Hilton Head

best beaches south carolina sea shell on the beach
Searching for seashells is one of the popular pastimes on the beaches of South Carolina.

Mitchelville Beach Park is a quiet beach on Hilton Head, unlike most other beaches on the famous resort island.

This beach in South Carolina, also called Fish Haul Beach Park, is a beautiful natural area perfect for the entire family.

While it is not an ideal spot to swim or surf, it is the perfect place for shell and shark tooth hunting.

This dog-friendly beach allows dogs to be there all day, unlike other beaches on the island, which either prohibit dogs or limit the hours they can be there.

Birdwatchers and wildlife watchers enjoy visiting this beach, especially during low tide.

Tide pools left behind during the dramatic tides often contain marine animals.

In addition, walking along the beach at low tide is easier.

Amenities at this beach include restrooms, an outdoor shower, free parking, and picnic tables.

One of the popular activities on Hilton Head Island is a guided kayaking tour. Find out more here.

10- Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is home to pristine natural areas and beautiful beaches and is a short, 25-minute drive from the city of Charleston.

While most of the beaches on this island are privately owned, one public beach is popular with locals and visitors.

The beach at Beachwalker County Park is a lovely beach for swimming and shell hunting.

Outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic areas, and an accessible ramp provide visitors with important amenities making it an easy place to spend the day.

Lifeguards patrol this beach during the summer season.

The island has several nature trails for hiking and golf courses with spectacular ocean views.

The beautiful, privately-owned beaches can be accessed by guests and visitors staying at the resorts or other accommodations on the island.

11- Edisto Beach

Edisto Beach is a secluded section of shoreline without hotels or resorts.

Lifeguards do not patrol this beautiful, undeveloped piece of wilderness, so children and less-experienced swimmers should be supervised.

This beach does not attract crowds like other beaches with more facilities and amenities, making it a quiet, relaxed place for families to hang out, hunt for shells and play on the sand.

Few beach amenities are available at Edisto Beach.

There are vacation cottages, rental homes, bed and breakfasts, and several restaurants near the beach and in town.

In the nearby Edisto Beach State Park, hiking brings visitors closer to nature on a picturesque hiking and biking trail through maritime forest, marshland, and beach habitat.

12- Huntington Beach State Park

south carolina beaches open brown pelican
Pelican next to dune grass at Huntington Beach in South Carolina.

Huntington Beach State Park is a large natural area with over 2,500 acres (1011 ha) of wilderness for visitors to explore.

This park has three miles (five km) of beach with plenty of shallow water for small children to splash around.

Older children and adults enjoy surfing, swimming, and boogie boarding at Huntington Beach.

This state park offers beautiful trails through the forest, allowing visitors many opportunities to see wildlife and go birdwatching. This segway tour is a fun way to explore the state park.

Campsites and picnic sites provide visitors with an easy place to relax for the day or the weekend.

The Atalaya Castle, a historic mansion built in the 1930s, is nearby.

Take a break from the beach and learn about the area’s colourful history at this Historic National Landmark.

13- Folly Beach

beaches south carolina two people walking on the sand next to the pier on a grey day
The pier at Folly Beach in South Carolina.

Folly Beach is on a small barrier island and is a quick drive from downtown Charleston, where you can enjoy all kinds of fun, from swimming to various water sports.

Surfing, kayaking, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding are the most popular activities at this beach. It is easy to rent equipment and book lessons.

Kayaking and paddleboarding around the island provide opportunities to see sharks, stingrays, and other wildlife species.

Visiting anglers can either catch fish at the fishing pier or book a deep-sea fishing trip offshore to catch a wide variety of species.

Dolphins can sometimes be seen close to shore, but it’s worth booking a dolphin cruise for a closer look.

Most visitors stay in a rental house near the beach or at one of the local inns or hotels. This tour of lighthouses, beaches and forts will get you to Folly beach and Sullivan’s Island.

14- Pawleys Island

south carolina beaches aerial view of houses in row on beachfront
Pawleys Island has some of the best white-sand beaches in South Carolina.

Pawleys Island is one of the oldest resort locations on the East Coast and is just south of Litchfield Beach.

Its white-sand beaches have been enticing beachgoers to relax on its sandy shores since the early 1700s.

Despite that, the shoreline of Pawleys Island has largely remained undeveloped.

As a result, modern-day visitors enjoy many similar sights and activities as the beachgoers 300 years ago.

This pristine beach is perfect for shell hunting, swimming, surfing and biking.

A nearby tidal creek, Pawleys Island Creek, provides a scenic spot for kayaking, canoeing, fishing and crabbing.

Several seafood restaurants, hotels, historic inns, and rental homes offer visitors plenty of dining and lodging options close to the beach.

15- Sullivan’s Island

charleston south carolina beaches lighthouse at night
Charleston lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island.

Sullivan’s Island is a small barrier island close to downtown Charleston.

The white-sand beaches on the island’s shoreline are wide and spacious, so visitors have plenty of room to spread out.

The lack of amenities may be a deterrent for families with small children, but for other visitors, it provides a seemingly untouched piece of paradise away from the city.

Swimming, paddleboarding, kitesurfing, sailing, and kayaking are popular activities in the calm waters of this beach.

Tours of nearby forts Sumter and Moultrie are available for those who want to learn about history.

Literary buffs will know that Sullivan’s Island was the setting for one of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories, The Gold Bug.

Charming shops and local restaurants cater to the day-trippers that travel here from the city.

For those who want to stay longer, you’ll find an assortment of bed-and-breakfast places, inns and rental homes.

16- Isle of Palms

nicest beaches in south carolina
Cannons at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina. A fort at this site has guarded Charleston Harbor for over 200 years.

Isle of Palms is a small island located in Charleston Harbor, close to Sullivan’s Island, with a long beach that provides plenty of space for beachgoers to enjoy many activities on the sand and in the water.

Some areas are designated as swimming-only areas, making these parts of the beach safer for swimmers, while other areas can be used by anglers, surfers, jet skiers, paddleboarders and windsurfers.

Access to the beach is easy, with more than 50 access points and plentiful public parking.

Amenities include clean restrooms and showers. Some sections of the beach also have umbrella and chair rentals available.

Sea turtles nest on portions of the beach, so pay attention to posted warnings.

This well-developed island offers a good selection of hotels and resorts.

17- Seabrook Island

south carolina beaches weather
Sunrise is a stunning time of day on the beaches of South Carolina.

Seabrook Island, a barrier island located close to Kiawah Island, is home to two popular beaches, North Beach and Pelican Beach.

Four miles (6.4 km) of beaches are linked to the island’s inland areas by nine boardwalks, while beautiful sand dunes and pristine beaches offer scenic views for visitors.

North Beach has the best sunrises and abundant wildlife, with tidal pools that are fun to explore at low tide.

Pelican Beach, also called Sunset Beach, has beautiful sunsets.

The gentle waves of Pelican Beach make this the best beach for families with young children.

An equestrian centre, tennis courts, and golf courses provide additional activities for visitors to Seabrook Island.

18- Hunting Island State Park

best beaches in south carolina
If you’re looking for natural beaches in South Carolina, head to Hunting Island.

It’s easy to see why Hunting Island State Park is South Carolina’s most popular state park, attracting more than a million visitors each year.

This 5,000-acre (2023 ha) barrier island is in the southern corner of South Carolina with white-sand beaches bordered by marshland and forest habitats.

You can sunbathe, swim, shell hunt, surf, or hike the trails throughout the park. Check out the visitor centre to learn more about the local wildlife.

Birdwatching is a popular activity for both resident and migrant birds.

Many campsites are available in the park with easy beach access, but if you don’t want to camp, the town of Beaufort is close enough to the park to stay in the town and play at the beach all day.

19- Daufuskie Island

south carolina beaches map
Looking for the best beaches in South Carolina? Check out our top 20.

Daufuskie Island is a small barrier island not far from Savannah, Georgia.

Visitors to the island can only access it by boat, which means the beaches here do not get very crowded.

It is inhabited by a few people, with lodging and restaurants available to visitors from off the island.

A lovely golf course and equestrian centre at Haig Point attract those seeking tranquillity on their beach vacation without giving up all their favourite activities.

The peaceful white-sand beaches and gorgeous sunsets make this a perfect family vacation destination.

Three miles (five km) of public beaches are available to explore, swim, and shell hunt.

Daufuskie Island has a rich history and art culture.

Visitors can rent golf carts to visit historic landmarks and check out the various craft shops.

There are lodgings and restaurants for those who want to enjoy the relaxed island pace for more than a day.

20- Fripp Island

map of south carolina beaches
Fripp Island has several white-sand beaches to tick off your South Carolina list.

Fripp Island is a tiny barrier island in the Lowcountry area of South Carolina, home to a wildlife sanctuary.

You can kayak or hike along the Atlantic Ocean or the Great Salt Marsh and see alligators, loggerhead sea turtles and dolphins.

Birdwatching is also popular because around 175 species of birds can be found here.

The white-sand beaches of this South Carolina island are quiet and perfect for shell hunting and sunbathing.

You can find low tide tidal pools with fascinating marine animals on the beach.

There are several points of beach access with strict parking rules, but lifeguards do not patrol these beaches, so swimming may not be safe. And alligators lurk in beach wetlands and tidal pools, so be careful.

For more beaches around the world read:

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AngieGrierphoto
Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for print and online media. Originally from the US, she has lived in several different states on the US West and East coasts, the Gulf Coast, and the Upper Midwest. These days, when she’s not camping in the woods in a US national park or shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.