There are other great beaches for those who want to truly escape the crowds and are willing to drive a little farther or jump on a boat.
Edisto Beach is about 50 miles south of Charleston, down a long country road. The community is family-oriented, uncommercialized and amenities are old-fashioned. Edisto Beach has bounced back from a heavy beating from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, thanks to 67,000 dump truck loads of sand placed on its 6-mile shoreline. The beaches are now wider and you can find fossils and sharks’ teeth at the change of the tide.
Edisto Beach State Park is a camping paradise with oceanfront sites, salt marsh sites and a few cabins.
Hunting Island south of Beaufort is South Carolina’s single most popular state park, attracting more than a million visitors a year. It has five miles of pristine South Carolina beaches, thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, a saltwater lagoon and ocean inlet. It’s also home to a great lighthouse that is open at times to visitors.
Bonneau Beach on Lake Moultrie offers a sand beach at the curve of the lake. The freshwater lake makes it great for picnics, and a nearby boat landing is perfect for smaller skiffs and jon boats for fishermen.
If you own a boat — or, better yet, have a friend with one — you’ve got many more beaches to choose from than most tourists would. Morris Island is the granddaddy of all boat-party beach spots. On a hot summer weekend you might see hundreds of center consoles lining the inland side of the island near Fort Sumter. The sandy shore will be packed with bikinis and beer-drinking bros.
Boat-only beaches with a more family-friendly vibe can be found at the northern end of Kiawah Island and at the tips of Capers and Dewees islands. Another increasingly popular spot is a large sandbar in the Intracoastal Waterway just south of the Limehouse Bridge. But beware of those sandbars — while they are fun places to anchor, socialize and swim, the currents and dropoffs can be dangerous.