Sullivan's Island

#3 in Best Things To Do in Charleston
Sullivan's Island
Daniela Duncan/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Comprising only 3.3 square miles, Sullivan's Island may not seem like a must-see for Charleston visitors. But this beachfront town proves that good things come in small packages. Sitting at the mouth of the Charleston harbor  a little less than 10 miles east of the downtown area  Sullivan's Island boasts beaches, tasty restaurants and unique shops, plus a colorful history. You'll also find a bevy of vacation rental properties here  a worthy alternative if you want a little more seclusion than some of downtown Charleston's hotels and bed-and-breakfasts can provide.

Even if you're not much of a beach bum, you'll still find plenty of interesting local history to make a pit stop here worthwhile. For instance, Fort Moultrie was the first fort on Sullivan's Island. Composed of soft palmetto logs, it withstood a nine-hour battle in 1776 when nine warships were advancing on Charleston. Its soft composition meant enemy cannonballs simply bounced off its cushy exterior. Aside from its triumphant ability to protect the city, Fort Moultrie also served a purpose in literary history: Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at the fort from November 1827 to December 1828. Those who have read his short story, "The Gold Bug," will recognize Sullivan's Island as the backdrop of the tale. His brief residency is celebrated at Poe's Tavern, a local watering hole situated about two blocks north of the beach.

The easiest way to reach Sullivan's Island is by car. To stake your claim on a patch of sand, park alongside the street and walk down to the beach (there are no municpal parking lots on Sullivan's Island). For more information, visit the town's website here.

See all Hotels in Charleston »

More Best Things To Do in Charleston

The Battery
Boat Tours
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 17
#1 The Battery

Many visitors say you can't leave Charleston without seeing this stretch along the city's southern tip. This row of Southern-style mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor was formerly the heart and soul of the city's maritime activity. Today, the area attracts camera-toting tourists from all over the country.

Read more
ClimberJAK/Shutterstock
See full list of Best Things To Do in Charleston »

Explore More of Charleston

Recommended

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019

15 Epic Outdoor Adventures to Enjoy Across America

Plan an unforgettable trip in your own backyard or on the opposite coast.

Will WalkeyMarch 12, 2019

The 30 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Explore the globe in search of these intriguing historic sights.

Gwen PratesiMarch 11, 2019

The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2019

U.S. News ranked 3,877 top properties for 2019. Check out the 50 best.

Zach WatsonFebruary 5, 2019

30 Hot New Hotels to Check Out in 2019

See which new properties offer surprising and fun features.

Lyn MettlerFebruary 5, 2019

10 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the USA

Go all-in for these luxe resorts flush with amenities.

Will WalkeyFebruary 5, 2019

The Caribbean Comeback: 12 New and Renovated Caribbean Hotels to Visit

These island properties are sure to impress travelers.

Erin ShieldsFebruary 5, 2019

17 Amazing Kid-Friendly Hotels

Discover which properties offer ample amenities for children.

Christine SmithFebruary 5, 2019

AAA Announces 2019 Diamond Award Winners

Of the more than 27,000 properties evaluated, 1,843 hotels earned Four and Five Diamond awards.

Zach WatsonJanuary 31, 2019

30 Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

See which waterfront escapes won't burn a hole in your wallet.

Kyle McCarthyJanuary 24, 2019