Arts & Culture, Discovery

Charleston’s Best Beaches

No Lowcountry vacation is complete without a trip to one of Charleston’s beautiful nearby beaches. Each beach has its own distinct charm, but all are guaranteed to make a great day trip and memory. Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and Folly Beach are all barrier islands located about 15 minutes from the downtown area. The popular summer days and even the months surrounding it offer perfect temperatures for swimming.  Even in the winter, you can find people sun bathing and combing the sand. The waters are known for being fairly mild with extremely gradual slopes.  Water coverage does, without a doubt, vary on the low and high tide times so check your charts.  If you fear little space to move and high-rise hotels, then you can breathe a sigh of relief; all three beaches, like the rest of downtown, pride themselves on staying laid back and local.

Sullivan’s Island is the smallest and most natural of the surrounding beaches. Located at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, the island is a mix between ultimate relaxation, natural landscapes, vibrant restaurants and shopping scene, and a touch of history. The views of Fort Sumter, Morris Island Lighthouse, and the Battery are unparalleled, and the occasional meandering cruise line is always a spectacle.

Concierge Tip: Visit Fort Moultrie on the eastern end of Sullivan’s Island for an unforgettable American history lesson.

Folly Beach is a great example of the classic beach town. The surfer-esque style is home to some of the best riding in the area, and great for those who enjoy some lively company. The beach stretches six miles, and has plenty of space to find a more secluded spot. While your heading north away from the crowd, you will arrive at what is called the Washout, named for the damage struck to the area from Hurricane Hugo in the late 80’s.  If you brought your surfboard, then this is the place to use it.  The area is most consistent in producing solid waves for more experienced riders.  Just outside of Folly Beach the area is dotted with fun restaurants and bars, perfect for post beach drinks and appetizers.

Concierge Tip: Visit the Folly Beach County Park at the west end of Folly Beach.  It features dressing areas, outdoor showers, and a swimming area with lifeguards on duty.  Perfect for kids!

Isle of Palms, also known as IOP, boasts beautiful white sand beaches and luxurious waterfront homes.  The beach area is about the same size as Folly, and has great places to rent kayaks, boats, stand up paddleboards and even charters. One major convenience of IOP are the public bathrooms, rinsing areas, and parking. After a day at the beach, visit some of the local restaurants, bars, and shops.

Concierge Tip: Keep up with the Isle of Palms Turtle Team for updates on where to search for nests and tracks. Take a look at the photo gallery as well to see the most recent turtle hatchings.

All three beaches are sure to please any visitor, with their laid back Southern attitude, and beautiful Charleston sun.  Just remember to leave the alcohol at home and be mindful of your pets, and you are sure to have a great time. While the beaches are a quick drive from the hotel, transportation to and from can be arranged by our masterful concierge team.

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Discovery

Explore Charleston’s Waterways

While Charleston is known for its rich history, trendy boutiques and delectable cuisine, one of the Holy City’s greatest attributes is its prime location near the water. The city is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, fresh water lakes, and winding rivers making endless options for water activities.

So, take advantage of what the Lowcountry has to offer and enjoy these outdoor recreations.

Schooner Pride Sail

Take an afternoon dolphin sail, sunset or moonlight journey around the Charleston Harbor. Along the way enjoy views of pastel colored homes along The Battery, historic church steeples and an up-close view of the Ravenel Bridge. Passengers can help raise and trim the sails or relax while exploring the Holy City’s vibrant coast.

Concierge Tip: Beverages are sold on the boat, but if you want to eat be sure to bring your own picnic lunch.

Paddle Boarding

If you have never paddle boarded before then Charleston is the best place to do it, as the water is relatively flat and calm. Expect to see dolphins and indigenous birds while paddling Folly River, or if you are more advanced, adventure out on the ocean waves with Charleston SUP Safaris. If you choose to take a tour near dusk, you are sure to see a magical sunset and moonrise. Whether you are solo or with a group of friends, this is a great way to see Charleston’s sights and aquatic life.

Concierge Tip: Bring a disposable waterproof camera to snap a shot of the dolphins and breathtaking views.

Fishing in the Lowcountry

Saltwater fishing, inshore, offshore, nearshore – Charleston has it all! Experience an afternoon or sunset session of fishing on Charleston’s glistening water. Whether you are a fishing guru or a complete novice, the captain and crew will accommodate your skill level to help you catch the biggest fish out there.

Concierge Tip: If you catch a “keeper” sized fish, the captain will recommend some restaurants where they will prepare it for you.

Eco Tour – Barrier Island Exploration

Curious about Charleston’s wildlife? Venture to Capers Island on a pontoon boat and learn a thing or two about the native fauna. As one of the few existing undeveloped islands in the area, this hidden retreat is a special place. You are bound to see dolphins, bald eagles, herons, pelicans and more. Once you reach its sandy shore, explore its untouched “Bone-yard Beach” and freshwater ponds.

Fun Fact: High School buddies Jose Hernandez and Shane Ziegler started this tour company in 1997, and today it is managed by Shane and his wife, Morgan. The team is highly experienced with many of the captains and naturalists having over 10 years of experience leading excursions.

Cypress Gardens Boat Ride

Cypress Gardens is a 170-acre preserve and gardens centered around a tupelo swamp enclosed by lush greenery. Enjoy the tall, enchanting cypress trees while paddling in a classic wooden row boat. The ambiance radiates romance, making it the perfect destination for a couple in search of an intimate and unforgettable Lowcountry experience. As you paddle among the lily pads, keep an eye out for the turtles and birds while listening to the peaceful sounds of nature’s wildlife.

Fun Fact: A scene from the movie The Notebook was filmed in this very swamp in Cypress Gardens.

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Discovery

Your Charleston Summer Reading List

The long, lazy days of summer are the perfect time to kick back and relax with a good book. Whether you plan to visit the Holy City in the coming months or are just missing her soulful beauty, these Lowcountry-centric novels will have you pining for a return trip. Catch up with an old favorite, dive into an easy pool-side read or immerse yourself in the area’s history with our Charleston reading list.
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