Charleston's Islands
About
Kiawah Island
About
Sullivan's Island
About
Folly Beach
About
Isle Of Palms
Tidal Chart
Beach Hotels
Beach & Resort
Vacation Rentals
Vacation Rentals
By Owner
Photos
on the Beach
About
Kiawah Island
About
Sullivan's Island
About
Folly Beach
About
Isle Of Palms
Tidal Chart
Beach Hotels
Beach & Resort
Vacation Rentals
Vacation Rentals
By Owner
Photos
on the Beach
About
Kiawah Island
About
Sullivan's Island
About
Folly Beach
About
Isle Of Palms
Tidal Chart
Beach Hotels
Beach & Resort
Vacation Rentals
Vacation Rentals
By Owner
Photos
on the Beach
Article: "Destination: Charleston's Islands"
Sponsors

Kiawah Island Getaways - Click Here!
Kiawah Island Getaways
Located 30 minutes from historic downtown Charleston, on Kiawah's West Beach, these top-rated 1 & 2-bedroom beachside and oceanfront villas are just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean, and within a short walking distance to golf, tennis, shopping and restaurants. (843) 343-7215

Recommended Charleston Itineraries - Click Here!
Recommended Charleston Itineraries
These touring itineraries detail the best things to see and do while you're in Charleston. Itineraries include complete information on recommended tours, accommodations, MUST TRY restaurants & shops. Information includes website links, touring tips, how to get to/from downtown, where to park and much much more essential touring information!

Destination: Charleston's Islands

Article:

Destination: Charleston's Islands

January 2003

Southern hospitality awaits beyond the city limits.

By JANE O'BOYLE

It is enough to visit Charleston and never leave downtown. Wander among the antebellum homes, the raft of lively restaurants, waterfront parks, awesome architecture, and art galleries, and you’ll know why this Southern port city is consistently voted one of the top vacation destinations in the world. Yet visitors frequently miss the forest for the trees, for Charleston’s lush and friendly historic district is surrounded by a flotilla of barrier islands, each with its own distinct character and history. From the luxurious golf links of Kiawah and the U-pick strawberry farms on Wadmalaw to the Victorian mansions beneath the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse and the surfers on Folly Beach, the islands that surround Charleston provide a whole new perspective on the romantic allure of the Lowcountry.

Located within a 20-mile radius of the city, many islands can be reached by car (although a few are accessible by boat only). Leaving downtown Charleston over the Ashley River on Route 17 South, take the first left onto Folly Road (Route 171). Just over the Intracoastal Waterway, at Wappoo Cut, sits James Island, a colorful suburb where cultures and history blend seamlessly: Residents of the Charleston Country Club live next to abandoned slave shacks and cinder-block pawn shops, and an art-deco convent abuts the local marine-research center. If you turn right onto Maybank Highway, you’ll find a few antiques shops and a favorite local hangout, Brett’s Restaurant, which serves fresh seafood in the glow of its bright Tuscan-yellow walls. Back on Folly Road, continue for about five miles, where a wide marsh gives way to Folly Beach. As you drive toward the ocean, you’ll catch glimpses of the Morris Island lighthouse to your left. Morris Island was the sight of the Battle of Secessionville, a key Civil War confrontation fought in 1862. Most of Morris Island has since washed away, but the lighthouse stands tall on the last remaining streak of sand.

Folly, the closest ocean beach to downtown Charleston, is six miles of sand dotted with timeworn shacks on stilts that have survived many a hurricane. Bumper stickers proudly claim it as “The Edge of America.” A narrow strip of the beach known as the Washout is a mecca for sunrise surfers in search of the area’s biggest waves. Folly’s modest neighborhoods offer dozens of marsh- or ocean-view rental cottages, their yards thick with trumpet vines and hibiscus. George Gershwin stayed in one of these while composing Porgy and Bess. On the Folly River side of the island, Folly Hideaway restaurant is well worth a visit. Take a seat on the deck overlooking the marina. In the evening, if the sky is clear, the sunsets are often spectacular.

Driving back along Maybank Highway across James Island and Johns Island, you’ll come to Wadmalaw Island, just a few miles inland from the sea. Strawberries and blueberries dot fields in spring and summer at Leland Farms, where long-empty sharecroppers’ huts sit silently among the bursts of color and new growth. Across the road stretches the 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea farm in the United States. At the end of Maybank Highway, turn left toward Cherry Point Park and visit one of two local shrimp companies that sell their catch right off their boats.

Just south of Johns Island is Kiawah Island, the site of an exclusive golf resort and the home of about 1,100 year-round residents. Enormous modern renditions of Spanish stucco and Queen Anne shingle-covered homes jut out into the marshy maze of the Kiawah River or sit on bluffs overlooking the 10 miles of glorious oceanfront. At low tide, the beach is so wide and smooth that you can ride a bike on it, all the way to the eastern tip, where hundreds of pelicans make their home. Along the way, you’ll pass snowy egrets and bustling osprey nests, and perhaps pick up a few sand dollars and whelk shells. When the tide is too high for beach biking, try the inland trails—nearly 31 miles’ worth that meander through the woods and marshes. Most of the freshwater lagoons are home to large alligators, that frequently emerge to sun themselves on the grassy banks.

At Bohicket Marina, near the entrance to Kiawah Island, you can rent your own boat or join a group on a deep-sea fishing trip. The marina has several restaurants, including Rosebank Farms Café, which offers incredibly fresh Southern variations such as the catch-of-the-day hot off the grill and peppery fried chicken and green tomatoes.

The road leading back to Charleston is sprinkled with stands selling seasonal produce and local products: tomatoes, onions, peaches, and peanuts, as well as sweetgrass baskets.Visitors are welcomed at the many small churches dotting the roadside, where you can chat with the Gullahs of Johns Island. These descendants of slaves have lived on the island for generations, forming a community rich in African traditions that have been both preserved and transformed over time. The language, music, food, and folk medicine endure, as these Johns Islanders still live off the land and they rarely leave. Enjoy the lilting Gullah dialect, a blend of Elizabethan English and African languages. Their stories and lore have deep roots in America’s past.

Johns Island is also home to another kind of American antiquity: Angel Oak, a massive tree believed to be about 1400 years old. It is located off of Maybank Highway at the southern end of the island.

The islands east of Charleston are also historically rich. From the city, cross the Cooper River, follow the signs for Coleman Boulevard, and you’ll be in the town of Mount Pleasant. If you’re hungry, try Momma Brown’s Barbecue, where you’ll find some genuine Southern fare: slow-roasted pulled pork with hush puppies and spicy collard greens.

The boulevard continues over the Ben Sawyer Bridge and onto three-mile-long Sullivan’s Island . Charleston residents moved here to escape the yellow-fever epidemics of the 1790s, and the island was later a quarantine stop for multitudes of transported African slaves. The community has since been ravaged by the Civil War, as well as by numerous hurricanes (most recently by Hugo in 1989), but it has always been resilient, rebuilding its charming character after each disaster.

Each block on the island is marked by a station number (from a long-departed cablecar system). There is plenty of parking, as well as public access to the island’s pristine beach. The breezes here attract windsurfers and kite-surfers, who perform daredevil tricks in the choppy surf. This windy spot on Sullivan’s Island is only a stone’s throw from Fort Sumter, the site of the first action in the Civil War.

At the southwestern tip of the island stands Fort Moultrie, a Revolutionary War artillery battery that is now a national park. Edgar Allan Poe, Abner Doubleday, and General William T. Sherman—who later spared it during the Civil War—were stationed here. The great Seminole warrior Osceola, who so vociferously protested the relocation of his people from Florida, was imprisoned and later buried here.

A number of other batteries on Sullivan’s Island have been converted into unique private homes, and one is now the local library. Just over the bridge leading to Isle of Palms is the Boathouse at Breach Inlet. One of the few waterfront restaurants in the area, it offers superb seafood and serves drinks on its deck. Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island are perfect for bike riders and dog walkers. For a beer and a quick bite to eat, Dunleavy’s Pub is great spot.

There are dozens of other quaint islands to explore, as well as more Lowcountry flavor to discover. But on a visit to Charleston, don’t miss the unique character of the larger islands. In short, one might say that Folly Beach represents your hippie surfer cousin, Wadmalaw your kitchen-loving granny, and Kiawah Island your discriminating father-in-law. Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms would be your sentimental sisters. And Charleston itself? It could be the love of your life.


Click Here for More Information on Charleston Beaches...

Click Here for Charleston Accommodations...
Featured Sections
Home
Calendar of Events
Accommodations
Lodging Specials
Vacation Packages
Tours & Attractions
Golf
Local Businesses
Real Estate
Relocation
Cruises
Touring Itineraries
Official Guides
Coupons
Maps
Weddings
Art
Marinas
Shopping
On-Line Shopping
Dining
All About Charleston
Beaches
Photographers
Transportation
Schools
Churches
Local Sports
Jobs
Recommended Books
Weather
Advertising
Contact Us
FAQs

Copyright CharlestonLowcountry.com