Ready to get your tan on?! You can’t enjoy the complete Charleston experience if you don’t pay a visit to one of its beautiful beaches while in town. Three public beaches are within a few minutes’ drive from downtown Charleston. Each is distinctly different from the others, and each offers its own special brand of Lowcountry fun and relaxation. But what all of the Charleston area beaches have in common is that the waters are generally gentle; the slope is very shallow (walk in a hundred feet and you might only be in water up to your knees); the surface is smooth (no coral, few shells) and the water is greenish-brown with limited visibility (not good for snorkeling). The gentle slope of the beach results in hugely varying tides – the difference between water coverage at low vs high tide can be 50 or more feet, and at lunar high tides some beaches might leave very limited beach space. It’s helpful to check tide tables and go out when it’s not high tide.
Of all the various beach options, if you are looking for a great spot to take the family for sun bathing and sand castles, Isle of Palms is the place to be! Originally named Hunting Island and then Long Island, Isle of Palms is thought to be at least 25,000 years old, making it a destination for beach goers for generations. Here’s a few things to know about IOP before you visit!
Visitors who come to the Isle of Palms have many options for beach access and parking. The City offers more than 50 beach access paths. The City maintains two parking lots close to Front Beach on Pavilion Drive. One lot offers handicapped parking and season-long parking for those with a decal. Visitors can also park their vehicles on any road right-of-way unless it has been designated with a sign as “no parking”. Be mindful that all four wheels must be off the road and that no beach access paths can be blocked. Be sure to not block driveways or mailboxes because the City regulates parking along the public rights-of-way from May 15 – September 15 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Grab a bite to eat after burning off all those calories while surfing and body boarding! IOP has some great restaurants just walking distance from the main beach access.
- Acme Lowcountry Kitchen offers Southern coastal cuisine prepared at their bustling, no-frills beach grill with a full bar & deck. They offer quick meals, comfort foods, and happy hour specials.
- Just need a quick pick-me-up? Cafe Paname is a cute little coffee shop on Palm Blvd. with the best shrimp croissants!
- Looking for a laid back atmosphere with a not-so-touristy vibe? Chill out on the patio and listen to some live jams at The Dinghy. This tavern offers some great burgers and fish tacos!
Want to know the traffic scene before committing to the long line? A traffic camera at the intersection of the IOP Connector and Palm Boulevard is live on the SCDOT 511 system. Click on the “Cameras” option on the main menu and then click on “Charleston Beaches.” The SCDOT 511 system is also available as a mobile device app.
DOGS ON THE BEACH:
Bring your furry friend to jump in the waves! Just be sure to follow these guidelines: Dogs are allowed to be off-leash from April 1st through September 14th, 5:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and September 15th through March 31st from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 a.m. Dog owners must have leash in hand, have their dog under voice command and must clean up excrement. At all other times, dogs must be on leash and under complete control, even in the water.
The City of Isle of Palms Farmers’ Market will be returning this fall with FREE parking! Join every Thursday during September and October from 3:00-7:00pm at the IOP County Park for great food and tons of fun! The market will be located at the Isle of Palms County Park at 1 14th Avenue.
Need some additional resources like where to stay and rentals for babies? CLICK HERE for vacation rental properties & baby furniture rentals.