12 Top-Rated Beaches in South Carolina East Coast Family 2022
South Carolina is not only a great state to visit for its rich history and attractions, but it is also home to glorious beaches. Stretching two hundred and ninety-seven miles along the Atlantic, the South Carolina coast boasts some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the US.
Some of the most popular beaches for tourists are found along the Grand Strand, a sixty-mile stretch of pristine sandy shoreline between Georgetown and the Little River area that includes the beaches of Litchfield, Murrells Inlet, Surfside, and Myrtle Beach (the latter attracts about ten million tourist visits per year) Add to this the beaches of Hilton Head Island, and it’s simple to see what all the fuss is about.
To make the most of your time in this beautiful state, check out our list of the best beaches in South Carolina.
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1. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is by far the most popular beach destination in South Carolina in terms of visitor volume. While much of the appeal is due to its many family-friendly attractions, oceanfront resorts, and various entertainment occasions, the destination’s great white-sand beaches are what keep them coming back.
Stretching sixty miles north and south of the prime beachfront area with its funfairs and theme park-style attractions, Myrtle Beach does indeed seem endless, as do the fun occasions. Stroll the beach (or its long boardwalk), and you’ll see people enjoying activities as diverse as surfing and scuba diving, to more specific activities like collecting shells and building sandcastles, or simply sitting on a sun lounger. And relax.
For those who want something a little less busy, head a little further up the coast to North Myrtle Beach. While the beaches are just as lovely, they generally get quieter the further you get from the popular tourist attractions of the prime beach area to the south. There’s plenty of room to spread out here, whether you want to swim in the water, go parasailing, sea kayaking, or hang out and enjoy the sun.
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Accommodation: Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach: Best Areas and Hotels
2. Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head Island
While Hilton Head Island is essentially one big beach, with twelve miles of beautiful sandstone shoreline, multiple areas stand out. For those looking for a great family beach experience, head to Coligny Beach Park. The beach is reached via an inviting public garden with excellent facilities, including changing areas and comfy swings big enough to hold a family (there’s still free Wi-Fi).
From here, follow the path towards the carpet that extends to the water, which allows access for people in wheelchairs or using other assistive devices. After renting a beach chair and an umbrella (or installing your own), it’s time to enjoy the water, knowing that it is safe for the little ones, thanks to the presence of lifeguards.
Then take some time away from the water to stroll through Coligny Plaza, just steps from the beach. Here, you can enjoy a meal or snack, do some souvenir shopping, purchase accessories for beachwear, or enjoy a movie or live entertainment. Although parking is scarce during the busy summer season, the island offers an excellent bus service for those who want to park a little further afield. Alternatively, park your car and rent a bike, which you can still use to ride directly to the beach at low tide (many Hilton Head beach resorts offer affordable bike rentals).
3. Kiawah Beachwalker Park
Located just a short drive from the beautiful city of Charleston, Kiawah Island boasts an incredible ten miles of pristine, sandy beaches. Flanked on one side by the Atlantic and the other by a vast 10,000-acre expanse of forest, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, easily accessible from the mainland by a bridge, is an excellent spot for couples and families alike. Complimentary public amenities include restrooms and changing rooms, outdoor showers, picnic areas with grills, a pleasant boardwalk, an accessible access ramp for mobility-impaired, and public parking.
Beach equipment such as umbrellas and chairs can also be rented. If you’re traveling with little ones, head to the well-marked designated swimming areas, as these include lifeguards on duty throughout the high season.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Charleston: Best Areas and Hotels
4. Folly Beach, Charleston
Folly Beach is another excellent spot for sunbathing, just a short drive from Charleston. Just a twenty-minute drive from the city center, you’re on Folly Island, home to Folly Beach and its excellent fishing pier (don’t forget to pack your rod), which is also the perfect setting for a romantic selfie.
Other fun things to do in Folly Beach include outdoor adventures like sea kayaking and paddleboarding (many rental locations nearby), surfing (free lessons are available), and dolphin-watching cruises, to name just a few. It is also a lovely beach to walk in a while enjoying the sea views.
For a truly unique experience, rent a kayak and paddle the inland coast of Folly Beach Country Park. Along the way, you’ll likely see specific marine life, including dolphins, manta rays, and even bonnethead sharks.
5. Edisto Beach
Considered one of the last non-commercialized beach areas in South Carolina, Edisto Beach has a unique charm that makes it particularly appealing to those who like a more sedate beach experience. The city of Edisto Beach itself is worth the hour’s drive from Charleston and is as famous for its restaurants as it is for its shops, galleries, quaint bed and breakfasts, and somewhat laid-back surroundings.
In addition to their great swim (no lifeguards, so keep an eye on the little ones), adventurous classes can explore the new northern section of the beach, which belongs to Edisto Beach State Park, on kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Other fun things to do include beachside camping, fishing, and, after dark, an exquisite dolphin or sunset cruise. The park also offers several great trails to follow, which in turn can lead to some very laid-back places to stop and relax on the beach.
6. Front Beach, Isle of Palms
A leisurely forty-minute drive east of Charleston will find you on the Isle of Palms, an alluring beachside destination that’s as popular with locals as it is with visitors to the area. Front Beach is where most people head, noted for its good public parking and easy access to the beach (collectively, there are fifty or more public access points).
In addition to the frequent activities of humans on the beach, the beach is an essential stopover for sea turtles, who visit to nest and lay their eggs in the dunes (watch out for warning signs and be sure to keep your distance from these areas). Popular activities include sea kayak tours, sunset cruises, fishing, surfing, and paddleboarding.
7. Family Beach, Surfside
Located just south of Myrtle Beach, Surfside is a pleasant getaway for those seeking a great beach vacation. Often known simply as Family Beach (yes, to locals and those in the know), this 2-mile stretch of sandy beach is, perhaps unsurprisingly, particularly popular with those traveling with little ones in tow. The beach is not only attended by lifeguards, but swimming is safe, with a very gentle slope, which guarantees plenty of shallow water so that the little ones can splash around.
In addition to fun DIY activities like flying kites and building sandcastles, the community offers several beachside activities for all ages to enjoy, from music concerts and a water park to great restaurants and shops. Adventure search engines are also well served with surfboard rentals and instructions.
8. Sullivan’s Island Beach
Just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and at the mouth of the city’s harbor is Sullivan’s Island. This largely unspoiled, unreported area is popular with hikers for its natural environment.
While the lack of public facilities may mean that the beach is not ideal for those traveling with younger children, teenagers and, naturally, couples will appreciate the fact that there is plenty of room to spread out on this beach. Attractive beach. There is also the entertainment quotient, thanks to the availability of water sports rental services, which include everything from jet skis to surfboards.
As one of the smaller inhabited islands off the coast of South Carolina, there’s also a lovely community feel. It is reinforced by the excellent local dining options, shops, and B&Bs.
9. Seabrook Island
Located south of Kiawah Island (and accessed by the same avenue from Charleston), Seabrook Island has multiple lovely beaches. Occupying 4 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, the two prime beaches, Pelican Beach and North Beach, are often considered hidden gems for their relatively calm and uncrowded feel.
If you’re traveling with little ones, you’ll want to turn your attention to Pelican Beach, also known as “Sunset Beach,” for (you guessed it) its incredible sunsets. The gentler current here makes it ideal for swimming. And although North Beach is perfect for early risers due to its splendid sunrises, it is an excellent place for nature lovers due to its teeming birdlife, such as the pods of dolphins that feed off the coast. There is still a section here for dog owners to let their pets off-leash.
10. Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort
Hunting Island State Park not only offers an excellent beach experience but also offers many other exciting things for visitors to this beautiful corner of South Carolina. Attracting more than a million visitors every year, it is also one of the most popular attractions in the state, not only for the sea, sand, and sun but also for its diverse wildlife, some of which can be sampled, at the nature information center.
The park’s landmark, the 130-foot-tall Hunting Island Lighthouse, can (and should) be climbed for its spectacular views. The beach itself is incredible and unspoiled, encompassing 5 miles of white sand, flanked on one side by the Atlantic and the other by five 000 acres of marsh and forest habitats. It is also an ideal place for those who want to enjoy a great camping experience, as it offers plenty of camps to choose from, most with easy access to the beach.
11. Litchfield Beach
Another great site near Myrtle Beach is Litchfield Beach. An easy thirty-minute drive south, and you’ll think you’re on a different planet:
- No crowds.
- No big resorts lining the beach.
- Just plenty of attractive cottages.
- A beautiful fifteen-mile stretch of beach to enjoy.
In addition to sunbathing and swimming, those seeking water activities can enjoy everything from sea kayaking to jet skiing to fishing (boats can be hired at local marinas). Although parking is tight (arrive early), this, coupled with the fact that there are only two access points to the beach, ensures a peaceful beach experience.
12. Huntington Beach State Park
Here’s a South Carolina beach that appeals to sun worshipers, nature lovers, and bird watchers alike: Huntington Beach State Park. Located just a thirty-minute drive south along the coast from Myrtle Beach, Huntington Beach is an oasis of calm compared to many of the Palmetto State’s considerably busier cities and big-city beaches.
Covering some two and a half thousand acres of nature preserve, the park boasts a pristine 3-mile stretch of beach that is just as entertaining for those traveling with little ones to teens and young adults. The shallow, sandy waters just offshore are great for little ones to play in, while those who want more excitement shouldn’t venture too far for some great surfing. It is also a popular spot for fishing, camping, and picnicking.
Head inland, and you’ll be rewarded with countless opportunities to spot wildlife. Over three hundred species of birds make their home here (whether migratory or permanent), with many excellent viewing opportunities enjoyed from a well-marked, level hiking trail that is reachable from the beach and area boardwalk, of parking. It is also allowed to walk by bike.
History buffs will want to visit the Atalaya Castle, a unique mansion from the 1930s that can be seen. There is also an on-site gift shop that sells everything you need to ensure a safe and enjoyable family day (or 2) at the beach.
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- hilton head
- folly beach
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What’s the nicest beach in South Carolina? Best South Carolina Beaches
- Huntington Beach State Park.
- Folly Beach.
- Edisto Beach.
- Isle of Palms.
- Litchfield Beach.
- Surfside Beach, SC.
- Cherry Grove.
- Myrtle Beach.
Where is the prettiest beach in South Carolina?
To get the most from your time in this beautiful state, read our list of the best beaches in South Carolina.
- Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach. …
- Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head Island. …
- Kiawah Beachwalker Park. …
- Folly Beach, Charleston. …
- Edisto Beach. …
- Front Beach, Isle of Palms. …
- Family Beach, Surfside. …
- Sullivan’s Island Beach.
Which beach has the clearest water in SC?
Lake JocasseeA Refreshing Swimming Spot In South Carolina, Lake Jocassee Has The Clearest, Most Pristine Water.
What is the least crowded beach in South Carolina?
The least-crowded beaches are on the private islands – Kiawah, Seabrook, if you’re looking at beaches relatively near Charleston in SC. Next will probably be Sullivans and Isle of Palms, then Folly.
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