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Wyatt and Melissa Grooms run on Folly Beach as part of The Cupid's Undie Run in February.

Michael Wiser/ Special to the Post and Courier

From tip to tip, this finger of sand called "The Edge of America" offers everything from soaking up the sun to dancing in the streets.

Its miles of shoreline are the main draw. It can serve as a retreat to lounge on a chair, catch up on some reading or some rays. It can also be a place to scour the sand for seashells or splash in the surf. The island has plenty of beach access points. Road shoulder parking is allowed in residential areas, and there are small paid parking lots along the beachfront as well as near the pier.

At the "Washout," surfers, especially when Mother Nature kicks up the ocean, home in on breaking waves at an area where a strip of huge rocks hug the shoreline. It now offers public restrooms.

The main thoroughfare of Center Street greets beachgoers with sporting shops, restaurants and bars. The street ends at a nine-story, beachfront hotel.

A centerpiece attraction, the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier, the second longest on the East Coast, offers fishing, walking, birding and wonderful views of painted sunsets or tossed-about waves.

For those wanting a little solitude and a short walk, Morris Island Lighthouse sits in the surf on the edge of Charleston Harbor off the island's eastern tip. A short hike through a nature preserve of windswept dunes ends with a view of the 161-foot treasure built in 1876.

On the opposite end of the island, beachcombers will find Folly Beach County Park.

Unlike other stretches of the beach, lifeguards are on duty seasonally along a designated swimming area. Skimmer Flats, a major Eastern Brown Pelican rookery, is visible at the west end. The park also offers seasonal rentals of beach chairs and umbrellas, outdoor showers, portable restrooms, and a snack bar and retail area.

And no trip to Folly Beach is complete without passing the Folly Boat, a washed-up relic of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Locals paint messages welcoming home loved ones, displaying birthday wishes or championing a cause.

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The all-female Folly Beach Wahine Classic surfing contest blends both competition and fun for two days at the Washout. David Quick/Staff 

The rules

Beach rules

No alcohol, glass containers, plastic bags, balloons, Styrofoam, open fires, fireworks or littering.

Surfing without a leash is prohibited. From May 15 to Sept. 15, surfing is prohibited from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from 2nd Street East to 3rd Street West. From Sept. 16 to May 14, surfing is allowed in any area. It is prohibited within 200 feet of the fishing pier.

Stay off the dunes and use public walkovers.

Dogs are not allowed on the beach 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 1-Sept. 30. Otherwise, dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Dogs are never allowed on the pier.

Watercraft can be stowed on the beachfront for 12 hours without a permit. They must not be pulled into the dunes or sand fences.

To protect sea turtle hatchlings, no lights are allowed that illuminate the front beach between 10 p.m. and dawn from May 1-Oct. 31.

Parking rules

Parking is available for a fee at city-owned beachfront lots along the island. The county pier and county park have fee parking, and there are privately owned lots across from the pier.

Free parking is allowed in residential areas. All four tires must be off the road.

No diagonal parking unless posted. All parking must be parallel to the roadway.