Charleston has it’s way of captivating the attention of most looking to get away from the hustle of busy lifestyles & crowded cities. Offering a downtown scene with a sprinkle of “island life” brings vacationers back year after year and plants the notion that someday, this lovely town may become home.
For me, it’s always been about the beach. I feel the most at rest, at ease, and attentive to my internal joy radar when I’m sitting in a chair, feet covered by grainy sand, and hearing the ocean waves roll onto the shore. After living here for almost three years, I’ve come to discover the many options beach lovers have when visiting/moving to Charleston. There’s the county park on Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island, the openness of Sullivan’s Island, and the young vibe of Folly Beach. It truly depends on what you are looking for and the overall understanding that each area offers a little something special.
Isle of Palms, Beach Walker Park on Kiawah Island, and Folly Beach all offer public parking through the Charleston County Parks division with bathrooms and showers, pier beach access, snack bars, chair and umbrella rentals, and lifeguards on duty during certain hours. You have the option of paying for daily parking which generally runs $5 – $15/day depending on the time of year or you can purchase the Gold Pass for $70 – $85/yearly. The Gold Pass is hands down the best option for locals and also gets you free parking for all of the Charleston County Parks for the entire year.
Sullivan’s Island offers no public parking options so getting there early on the weekends and during the summer is necessary to insure a great spot. Most beach-goers park on the sides of the road, with tires off of the asphalt of course, and follow the signs for parking restrictions. While this may come as a fiasco to some, once you experience the vast oasis that Sullivan’s Island has to offer, you’ll instantly be captivated. Keep in mind, there are no bathrooms or showers to wash off after a long day on the beach.
My personal favorite is Sullivan’s Island. We spend most of our weekends during the summer laying out with friends, building sand castles, sea shell hunting down the shore, fishing, catching the rolling waves, and breathing in the salty air. Sullivan’s offers the most amount of open space, with the least amount of development, a perfect view of two local lighthouses, and the ability to truly relax.
What about you? Which Charleston beach is your favorite?