12 Stunning South Carolina Coastal Towns (#7 Was Named the Best U.S. Island)

Embark on a coastal journey where southern hospitality meets stunning Atlantic vistas.
Updated May 8, 2024
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asian couple enjoying beach holiday

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South Carolina may have much to offer for your next vacation or if you’re deciding where to move while planning for retirement.

The state has everything from mountains in the west to water on the coast for visitors and residents.

But where should you go if you want a good beach day and stroll along the water? Check out these coastal towns in South Carolina and see if one is right for you.

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Seabrook Island

Kameka Gray Design/Adobe Seabrook Island South Carolina at Sunrise

Seabrook Island has plenty of options to see beaches, water, and wildlife. The area is home to dolphins, turtles, birds, and more, so keep your eyes open when you’re there.

The island is also a great stop if you enjoy a day out on the golf course with courses and practice facilities for the whole family.

Edisto Island

Nickolay Khoroshkov/Adobe Botany Bay beach Edisto Island

Another island escape in South Carolina is Edisto Island, where you can get a boat or try a fishing charter to get the catch of the day, including crab and shrimp.

You can also try exploring the shops and galleries in the area that feature local artists to see different works.

Isle of Palms

Christian Hinkle/Adobe Isle of Palms Pier Charleston

Near Sullivan’s Island is another coastal island where you can get out on the beach and enjoy the ocean water.

Isle of Palms has plenty of hotels along the water, making it easy to walk from your room to the sand. You can also check out water activities like fishing, paddle boarding, or surfing.

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Pawleys Island

Joe/Adobe Sunset over Pawleys Island beach

Check out Pawleys Island if you want to find a cute cottage close to the water to enjoy a more relaxed vacation or even low-key retirement days.

The island also features ocean-front inns and a golf resort, so you can hit the links between days on the water.

Myrtle Beach

Larry Gibson/Adobe crowded Myrtle Beach boardwalk South Carolina

One of the best-known resort towns in South Carolina is Myrtle Beach, which may have more options if you’re looking for activities to fill your days in addition to beach time.

The city has water sports to try during the day and different restaurants to sample at night. You can also find some good deals by comparing prices at the various hotels in the area.

Daufuskie Island

Penny Britt/Adobe Scenic Views of Daufuskie during day

Daufuskie Island is an excellent place to stay if you want to unwind in a more laid-back beach town.

Explore the town’s art galleries, take a walking tour to learn more about its history, or take a boat off the coast to check out the unique wildlife in the area.

Hilton Head

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe lighthouse at Hilton Head South Carolina

Another beach town you may have heard of is Hilton Head, named the best U.S. Island to visit by Conde Nast Traveler.

The town has plenty of beachfront resorts to choose from, with amenities like pools, oceanfront cabanas, and golf if you want to get away from the sand.

You’re also close to Savannah, Georgia, if you want to explore a historic Southern town and spend the day away from the beach.


digidreamgrafix/Adobe beaufort south carolina downtown waterfront

Beaufort has many beaches and parks to explore by the water when you have time between shopping and dining in the Southern town.

The city also has plenty of events, so you should check the calendar and plan your visit around things like the annual Soft Shell Crab Festival or the Taste of Beaufort food festival.


Joe/Adobe Georgetown lighthouse on North Island

Foodies will love spending time in Georgetown, where there are different food options to try. You can also plan your visit to one of the town’s food festivals to try out a variety of choices.

Visitors and residents can also spend plenty of time outdoors with activities like golf or head to the water for water sports like fishing and kayaking.

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Kiawah Island

Shawn.ccf/Adobe sunset over Kiawah island beach dunes

Take a break and head to Kiawah Island for golf, tennis, nature hikes, and water activities.

The island also offers a variety of options for visitors to try, from traditional beach hotels to condominium resorts, depending on what they’re looking for.


f11photo/Adobe empty streets of Charleston South Carolina

The biggest city in South Carolina is Charleston, giving you plenty of options when it comes to making the place your own, either on vacation or to live there.

The city features parks to visit, golf courses to play, and bus tours for visitors who want to learn more about its rich history. You can head to some of the barrier islands in the city to check out beaches and water activities.


Amy/Adobe bluffton south carolina during day

Take a break from city life for a more relaxing time in Bluffton near Hilton Head. The town has beautiful galleries featuring local artists.

You can also check out the local market for fresh foods to eat during your stay, head outdoors for water activities along the town’s river, or play a round of golf.

Bottom line

JacobLund/Adobe senior couple having fun

Enjoy some extra time on the coast when you head to a coastal town in South Carolina.

If you’re just staying for a visit, make sure you have one of the best travel credit cards in your wallet so you can earn extra points and perks when you spend money.

You can also decide to move there permanently when you retire, so it’s a good idea to create an estimated budget now so you can find ways to help yourself financially prepare for retirement.

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Intro Offer

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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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