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Best Beaches in South Carolina

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

With 2,876 miles of tidal coastline, South Carolina is filled to the brim with some of the best beaches on the East Coast. Though with miles and miles of coast available, travelers may find it hard to settle on just one beach destination for their next vacation. To help, U.S. News took into account natural beauty, cleanliness, nearby amenities and expert and traveler sentiment to determine the Best Beaches in South Carolina. Got a favorite? Vote below to influence next year's ranking list.  

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#1 Sullivan's Island

#1 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Despite it being only 3.3 square miles in size, Sullivan's Island is one of the top vacation destinations for Charleston residents. Located about 10 miles southeast of downtown, this barrier island features glistening white sand beaches and calm waters that allow for plenty of water sports activities. The island is also chock full of historical charm, including serving as the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe's famous short story, "The Gold Bug." 

Sullivan's Island
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#2 Hilton Head

#2 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Hilton Head is the perfect place to go if you're looking to enjoy the beach and indulge a little too. The barrier island, about 30 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia, features beautiful beaches galore, including popular spots Coligny Beach and Alder Lane. The island also specializes in recreational activities, such as golf and tennis, plus it's home to many spas, making the destination a particularly big draw for those seeking a little luxury. Read More »

Aerial Harbour Town View 22 photos
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#3 Folly Beach

#3 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Along with Sullivan's Island, Folly Beach is a popular Charleston beach destination. Located about 11 miles south of Charleston on Folly Island, this beach acts as the perfect daytrip for Charleston visitors when the weather's right. Come early, stretch out on the sand under the sun, meander to one of the many bars that line the beachfront and be sure to catch a beautiful sunset. 

Folly Beach
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#4 Edisto Beach

#4 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Edisto Beach bills itself as one of the last family-friendly beaches with little development in South Carolina. With fewer than 500 residents year-round, Edisto Beach is very residential and as such, devoid of crowds compared to other South Carolina beach spots. Explore the shore that snakes along Palmetto Boulevard or head on over to Edisto Beach State Park for trails and beaches filled with seashells.  

Edisto Beach
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#5 Kiawah Island

#5 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

The closest you'll probably come to paradise in South Carolina is Kiawah Island. This private island features 10 miles of beautiful beaches backed by sand dunes, lush marshes and maritime forestry, translating to beach scenery that is simply unmatched. The island's landscape also yields several scenic trails, waterfront golf courses and some pretty sweet digs thanks to the luxurious Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Kiawah Island
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#6 Isle of Palms

#6 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Situated northeast of Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms is a small community that features one long beach, providing seemingly endless space for fun in the sun. The island also offers two championship golf courses and loads of water sports activities, including boat rentals and windsurfing. 

Isle of Palms
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#7 Cherry Grove

#7 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

This small town near North Myrtle Beach is an excellent low-key vacation spot for families. Cherry Grove features several vacation rentals that line its namesake, white sand beach. Plus,  the saltwater channels that weave in and out of the community offer superb boating opportunities. And if the kids tire of the beach, many kid-friendly attractions are within driving distance of the area, including Alligator Adventure and the OD Pavilion Amusement Park. 

Cherry Grove
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#8 Pawleys Island

#8 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

One of the oldest resort areas on the East Coast, Pawleys Island is still largely devoid of commercialism. The area is remote in feel, offering up a short list of things to enjoy aside from its white sand beach and picturesque Pawleys Island Creek. If you're into nature though, this is your haven: Huntington Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens are just a short drive away. 

Pawleys Island
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#9 Surfside Beach

#9 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Surfside Beach enjoys the reputation of the most family-friendly (and affordable) beach in the state. Located about 9 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach boasts 2 miles of coastline as well as the Ocean Lakes Family Campground, which offers a variety of accommodation options for families. There are also multiple kid-friendly attractions in the area, including mini-golf and a water park. 

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#10 Myrtle Beach

#10 in Best Beaches in South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is easily the most popular beach destination in South Carolina. In addition to 60 miles of beach, the city features activities the whole family can enjoy. Kids can frolic at the beachfront Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Ripley's Aquarium while adults can catch a minor league baseball game at TicketReturn.com Field or watch a show at one of the city's famous theaters, including The Carolina Opry.  Read More »

Myrtle's Morning Pier View 18 photos
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Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

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Murrells Inlet

Murrells Inlet

Murrells Inlet

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Beaufort

beaufort

Beaufort

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Litchfield Beach

Litchfield Beach

Litchfield Beach

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