Beginner’s Guide to the South Carolina Islands

You don’t have to go to the Caribbean to live the “Island Life”— it’s all right here on the the South Carolina islands. Our string of 34 palmetto-studded sea islands range from untamed and secluded to five-star and bustling.

While we can’t possibly cover all 34 islands in one blog post, we’ve chosen a representative sample of the South Carolina islands we know and love—making our way from north to south along the chain. Read on to determine which of these South Carolina Islands is the best option for you and your fellow vacationers.

Side note: If you’re staying at one of our Kiawah Island Getaways properties, most of these islands are within day-trip driving distance—with the exception of Daufuskie Island, which is remote and requires a ferry ride to reach it.

Folly Island South Carolina islands
  • Surfers. (And kiteboarders and stand-up paddleboarders and…) Folly has a laid-back, colorful and carefree vibe—where the days are long and the ocean offers endless fun. The island’s motto could be “have a good time, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
  • Nightlife. Live music, cold drinks and rooftop bars make Folly Beach a hit with those who like to stay out late and sleep in.
Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina
  • Sweet tea sipping. Seriously. If this cold southern treat pleases your palate, you’ll love Wadmalaw, home to both the Charleston Tea Plantation, which offers trolley tours of the process, and the Firefly Distillery, where you can taste (and purchase) a selection of their famous tea-infused vodkas, plus whiskey, moonshine, and other spirits.
  • Wine tasting. Once you finish your spirits-sampling at Firefly, make your way to Deep Water Vineyard, which is located on the same farm, to give their offerings a try.
Kiawah Island in South Carolina
  • Everyone! We truly feel that Kiawah is a one-size-fits-all-island—from toddlers just finding their sea legs to retirees seeking the good life…even teenagers are known to put down their phones and have fun on Kiawah.
  • Kiawah is often named as one of the best beaches on the East Coast. And no wonder—its wide, welcoming beaches are so flat and hard-packed you can even ride bicycles on them! And because a pass is required to come onto the island (shown at the guard house), the beaches are rarely crowded.
  • Golfers. We’d be remiss not to mention Kiawah’s PGA Tour pedigree (with a repeat PGA coming our way in 2021) and the world-renowned, Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. But, of course, you don’t have to love golf to love Kiawah.
  • Honeymooners. Kiawah sets an idyllic stage for romantic getaways. Think hand-in-hand strolls along an empty beach, a bottle of wine at sunset (and sunrise coffees on your oceanfront balcony!), a couple’s massage, a bicycle ride under the shade of live oaks… we could go on. Hint: Kiawah Island also makes a great spot to “pop the question” to that special someone.
Edisto Island in South Carolina
  • Families. With quiet beaches but plenty to do, Edisto maintains just the right amount of beach town charm. Great swimming on Edisto, too!
  • Nature enthusiasts. The island’s wild side will impress your group’s birders, botanists, and hobby marine biologists. Head to the Edisto Island Serpentarium to observe and learn about alligators, turtles, snakes and other reptiles.
  • Budget-concious vacationers. Edisto has its own lovely State Park campground, offering an affordable place to lay your head at night—be it in a tent or an RV. For sites with water and electricity hookups, you’ll pay $21 – $55 a night, depending on location and season. For walk-in, tent-only sites, the rate is $15-$20 per night.
Daufuskie Island in South Carolina
  • Bicyclists. Pedal your way down quiet streets shaded by live oaks, where cars are rare — but golf carts are common.
  • History and culture buffs. Visit the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation to learn about the Gullah culture of the slave-descended residents of Daufuskie, as well as its oyster fishing era (which ended in the 1950s, just before electricity came to the island).
  • Day trips. Hop on the ferry for sleepy Daufuskie, rent a golf cart, grab lunch at Lucy Bell’s Cafe, explore on foot, then catch the ferry back to Hilton Head.

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