Nothing on either U.S. coast quite looks like a Carolina beach. The wide swaths of sand, sweeping dunes, picture-perfect sunrises and sets… For decades, growing up vacationing in the Outer Banks, I had only been to a North – never South – Carolina beach. When I first saw Folly, a few years back, my initial thought was: “It’s every bit as pretty, only this place has palmettos.”
And it’s true – Folly Beach, on Folly Island, is just as pristine as any beach I had seen before, but with that little extra the proximity to the Holy City stands to offer. The town is all Carolina coastal vibes, but with undeniable Charleston culture and flair. It’s different than Charleston, too, though – slower, quieter, and an opportunity for a fuller immersion in nature.
A short drive outside the city, this barrier island, often nicknamed “the Edge of America”, is equipped with everything you’re looking for out of a beach trip, from the pier to deep sea and river fishing, and surfing, kayaking, and dolphin watching. There’s good food, fun bars, and plenty of sightseeing on Folly.
Folly Beach County Park, on the west end of the island with over 2500 feet of oceanfront, is where you should set up that beach umbrella, and prepare to take in the scenery.
Morris Island Lighthouse, tucked on the southern entrance to Charleston Harbor, is unusual in that it now stands several hundred feet offshore. It’s a gorgeous area, and offers plenty of opportunity for walking and sightseeing.
Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve is the perfect peaceful spot for surf fishing, wildlife observation, and photography. Located at the northeastern terminus of Folly Island, you can even see Morris Island Lighthouse from the shores.
Blu Restaurant: Housed in the Tides Hotel – the only place, coincidentally, you need to stay on Folly, since it offers the best beach access and views – this spot serves up signature seafood creations using local ingredients. Try the shrimp bruschetta to start, and go with the crispy snapper for your main.
Taco Boy: If you want a break from seafood or Southern, Taco Boy is a beach-y authentic Taqueria and Cantina with can’t-miss rice bowls, a properly long list of tacos, and made-in-house “danger sauce” that we order, at our own risk, every time.
Pier 101: Folly’s newest restaurant, Pier 101, is a beachfront bar and eatery that has it all: live music on the weekends, cold drinks, seafood, and stunning ocean views. Opened in March of this year, on the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier, the hotspot offers classically-inspired American and Southern dishes, seafood specialties and cocktails.
Surf Bar attracts locals and visitors alike for bar food, cold beverages, surf films and live music. Purveyors of a crazy-popular cheese-steak sandwich and a killer wood-fire grilled 1/2lb burger, Surf Bar is even more beloved for their drinks. You’ll want to order one of their signature Painkillers, or one of the refreshing mojitos. after a day at the beach. Year-round music happens three or four days a week, and admission is always free.
Another place that’s beloved by visitors and locals alike, The Washout has plenty of casual food options, sports always playing on their TVs, live music nights, and a big patio to take in the warm ocean breeze. In other words, why wouldn’t you want to grab a drink here?