Sullivans Island



It’s beach season and there is no doubt that each one of Charleston’s beaches has it’s own charm. I would say that all are worth a visit, and you can pick one that suites your mood! If you’re looking for surf and are feeling adventurous, Folly is for you. If you’re looking for a great beach to take the kids to, Isle of Palms is where you should be. Want to go kiteboarding? Head on over to Sullivans. Each week we will be featuring a different local beach, and this week it’s all about Sullivans Island! Read on to see some rules, guidelines, and what to expect at Charleston’s most historic beach.

Sullivans Island has a lively main street, wooded beach paths, and tons of history, making it a relaxing, family-friendly local escape. Sullivans Island is full of worn-out but well-kept cottages of all shapes and is also known for having very wealthy, full time residents who live in exquisite new homes and is the 211th highest priced zip code in the United States! Sullivans Island is bordered on the West end by Charleston Harbor, where Fort Moultrie, which dates back to the 1700’s, overlooks the water. For just a few dollars, you can explore the fort’s grounds before hitting the beach  Middle Street is the town’s retail stretch, and has sunny outdoor dining at famous places like Poe’s Tavern, named after Edgar Allen Poe, who served a stint at Fort Moultrie.

After dark, many of the restaurants on Middle Street bring in a partying crowd with live music and flowing drinks. Although alcohol in not allowed on the beach, some people break the rules anyway and find themselves with a $1,090 fine for open containers on the beach. There is also a strict noise ordinance on this island after 11:00 pm, so make sure you keep your voices down throughout the night.

The island likes to keep things natural and low key, there are no public restrooms or lifeguards on this beach and there is no swimming allowed on either side of the island, where the currents are dangerously strong. Swimmers should also be very careful with the sandbars on this beach, if you get stuck on one while the tide is out, it will be extremely hard to get back in.  Parking lots are few and far between and they fill up awfully fast. You can park on the city streets for free, as long as all of your tires are off the pavement and there isn’t a sign telling you otherwise. All dogs (including dogs belonging to visitors) must have a Sullivans Island permit, which can be picked up at Town Hall for $35 ($25 if you’re a local). In the summer months (May-September) dogs can be off leash from 5-10 am and on leash from 6 pm to 5 am. If you decide to take your chances during off hours, just know that you could be fined more than $1000.

Sullivans Island waters are often calm, thanks to the many sandbars at this beach. You won’t find many surfers at Sullivans Island except for the occasional beginner longboarder. However, kiteboarders flock to this Sullivans Island, particularly Station 28.5. On a windy day, don’t be surprised if you see hundreds of kiteboarders flying through the air – it’s rather fun to watch! For watersport rentals, head to the neighboring Isle of Palms. If you decide that Sullivans Island beach isn’t for you, check out our post on the family friendly Isle of Palms Beach.