There are so many reasons to love Sullivan’s Island! With miles of quiet beach, a rich history and a friendly and inviting community, the residential island is a prime location for Charleston locals to kick up their feet.
Whether you’re searching for a romantic vacation spot or scoping out Charleston, S.C. real estate for a place to live, Sullivan’s Island is worth exploring. Discover what makes this island the go-to beach for Charleston insiders:
About Sullivan’s Island
Easy island living is what Sullivan’s Island is all about. Located just 10 miles from downtown Charleston, this island and town is home to families, retirees and anyone who enjoys the slow-paced coastal lifestyle.
With a total area of 3.4 square miles, Sullivan’s Island is on the smaller side. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty, charm and history.
Settled in the late 1600s, the island is named after Captain Florence O’Sullivan, who arrived on one of the first fleets to create the new settlement in Charleston. The lack of development on Sullivan’s Island has allowed it to retain its pristine natural beauty, making it one of the most beautiful beaches in the Lowcountry.
With just under 2,000 residents, Sullivan’s Island is home to a tightknit but welcoming community that appreciates understated charm over flashy indulgences. While the island’s population rises in the summer, locals enjoy much less tourism than Charleston’s other barrier islands.
Reasons to Love Sullivan’s Island
It isn’t difficult to see why locals love Sullivan’s Island. This stunning barrier island offers a wide array of beach activities and watersports, historical landmarks and wildlife viewing opportunities, as well as some of the best food in the Lowcountry.
Whether it’s a weekend retreat or a day trip, you’re sure to fall in love with Sullivan’s Island for the same reasons the locals did.
One of Charleston’s most natural and beautiful barrier islands, Sullivan’s Island is more than a romantic retreat for tourists. With little development and a clean shoreline, living on the island is akin to having your own private oasis.
Although the island itself is small, Sullivan’s Island has a vast beach with sandy dunes and wild, coastal vegetation. There are no piers, touristy beach shops or convenient stores along the beach — just calm and quiet as you enjoy the island’s unspoiled landscape.
Sullivan’s Island is undoubtedly one of the best Charleston, S.C. beaches for those who enjoy their peace and quiet. Compared to Isle of Palms and Folly, Sullivan’s Island is secluded, pristine and utterly romantic — especially when the sun begins to set over Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the historic lighthouse.
Every Charleston beach has unique characteristics that make it distinct. The lack of commercial development makes Sullivan’s Island stand apart from other islands. However, keep in mind that there are no lifeguards or public restrooms on the beach.
There are also no bars or restaurants along the beach. While this may seem like a disadvantage, it does an amazing job of keeping Sullivan’s Island secluded, private and clean.
For locals, no bars or restaurants isn’t a downside. In fact, it presents the perfect opportunity to bring a picnic and enjoy the privacy and serenity of Sullivan’s Island. And of course, there are bars and restaurants just a few blocks away in the middle of the island.
In keeping with the secluded, small-town feel of Sullivan’s Island, there are no hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts or other types of temporary lodging. The nearest hotels are in Mount Pleasant.
Although this might seem inconvenient to some vacationers, locals love having the island mostly to themselves. With both Charleston and Mount Pleasant less than 15 minutes away, Sullivan’s Island can get away with having no transient lodging.
Mount Pleasant locals don’t mind the policy either. In fact, many locals from the Mount Pleasant area ride their bikes across Ben Sawyer Bridge — less than 15 miles roundtrip — to spend the day at on the island and enjoy the secluded beach.
Deep Roots in History
Charleston is steeped in history, and Sullivan’s Island is no different. Locals have experienced many of the historic landmarks on the island, but who wouldn’t enjoy living in an area so rich in history?
Since its settlement in the 17th century, the defensive sea island has played a key role in the nation’s military operations. Fort Moultrie has stood strong on the island for over two centuries and receives tourists daily.
Although most locals have explored the museum and interactive exhibits at Fort Moultrie, many still enjoy exploring the grounds after hours. Fort Moultrie closes at 5:00 p.m., but the grounds are open 24/7, and many locals come for the peaceful views of the Charleston Harbor.
With such charm and history, it’s not surprising that Edgar Allen Poe was inspired to write “Goldbug” while stationed here in 1827. If you’re a fan of the gothic writer, be sure to stop by the popular Poe’s Tavern restaurant.
Quiet During the Off Season
During peak tourism season, Sullivan’s Island gets its fair share of visitors. Still, the crowds aren’t nearly as bad as on Charleston’s other barrier islands.
When the off season arrives — roughly, October through February — locals get to enjoy their sleepy beach town to its fullest. The parking is less harried, favorite eateries are no longer packed and the frenzy of summer vacationers is finally gone.
You’ll still find people out and about, enjoying a casual bike ride or walking the dog. However, everyone is quiet and respectful of the town’s noise ordinance.
Things to Do on Sullivan’s Island
Sullivan’s Island may be your quintessential sleepy beach town, but there is a never-ending list of things to do here. From kayaking and backwater paddling to exploring the shopping opportunities along Middle Street, locals have a vast number of amenities and activities at their fingertips.
Sullivan’s Island is every water-lover’s dream come true. From kayaking and wind surfing to swimming and paddleboarding, the island offers a wide array of water sport activities.
The calm waters on Sullivan’s Island are ideal for swimming, while the strong, steady winds make it perfect for kiteboarding and sailing. Although you won’t find any water sports equipment rentals on the beach, there is a rental shop on Middle Street, the main drag of the island.
Sullivan’s Island is also ideal for fishing. Whether you’re angling for flounder or bluefish at Breach Inlet or setting out on a world class fishing charter, the lush marsh estuaries and inlets surrounding the island make it the perfect place to cast your line.
Sullivan’s Island may be small, but some of Charleston’s best cuisine can be found on this barrier island. From fancy eats served in elegant spaces to funky beach taverns with tons of character, you’ll never get bored with the dining options on Sullivan’s Island.
You can’t bring up eateries on Sullivan’s Island without mentioning Poe’s Tavern. As previously mentioned above, this literary-themed tavern is decorated with Edgar Allen Poe’s best works and has a great atmosphere.
Poe’s Tavern also has the best burgers in all of Charleston, and we aren’t just saying that: It was voted “2018 Best Burger” by the Charleston City Paper.
Burgers aren’t the only thing on the menu at Sullivan’s Island. Stop by High Thyme for lunch and enjoy fried duck breast with smoked gouda grits while listening to live music.
Craving some barbecue? Bring the entire family to Home Team BBQ for mouthwatering smoked meats and savory sides.
Want something a bit more upscale? The Obstinate Daughter has a great selection of modern and unique cuisine. Although you might wait a bit for a table, the dining experience will be worth it.
Explore Historical Landmarks
History buffs will want to check out Fort Moultrie, located on the east side of the island. Known for its role in the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the famous seacoast defense is full of rich military history. The entire family will enjoy Fort Moultrie’s museum, interactive exhibits and stunning views of the Charleston Harbor.
Sullivan’s Island also has a dark past that can’t be ignored. The island was the port of entry for hundreds of thousands of African American slaves during the height of the international slave trade. Fort Moultrie has an exhibit concerning the painful history of the slave trade on Sullivan’s Island, and there is a commemorative bench on the island for people to sit and contemplate this chapter of our nation’s past.
Need to balance the dark with some light? If you can’t get enough of Charleston’s lighthouses, be sure to check out the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island. Built in the 1960s, it is commonly known as “Charleston Light” and is steeped in Lowcountry lore.
Visit Poe’s Library
Set inside the renovated Battery Gadsden, Poe’s Library is packed with books — including all of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous literary works. Although this quaint library isn’t big, you could easily spend an entire afternoon learning about its history and losing yourself in a good book.
Poe’s Library regularly features programs for children and adults alike. From board games and DIY crafts for the kids to writing workshops and book clubs for adults, the library is a special gathering place for locals.
Catch a Glimpse of Loggerhead Turtles
Seeing loggerhead turtles in their natural habitat isn’t easy. Although you might see an adult loggerhead turtle come up for air from your boat on the ocean, witnessing tiny hatchlings emerge is incredibly rare.
Although your chances of seeing one on Sullivan’s Island is still rare, they did have a record high of 15 nests in 2016. The sea turtle nesting season is May through October, but the nests hatch from July through the end of October.
Volunteers walk the beach early in the morning to identify tracks and alert the Island Turtle Team, who helps relocate eggs to protect disoriented hatchlings. If you do see a sea turtle or their tracks, report it to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Island Turtle Team.
Keep in mind that loggerhead turtles are an endangered species and that the island goes to great lengths to protect them. Disturbing them in any way can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and a year’s imprisonment.
As you walk along the beach during sunrise, keep your eyes out for them and you might get lucky. Just remember to keep your distance and avoid using flash photography.
As you can see, there are tons of reasons to love Sullivan’s Island. History at every turn, exceptional dining spots and miles of quiet shoreline make this laid-back beach a hotspot for locals.
If you’re ready to call Sullivan’s Island home, we’ve got the folks to help you do it. Chat with a Sullivan’s Island expert and find out why the island is one of the most desirable places to live in Charleston.
67 Warren Street, Downtown Charleston
This Luxurious Queen Anne style home, built in 1878, has undergone a massive renovation throughout the entirety of the home. This charming property features a completely redesigned kitchen, updated bathrooms, fireplaces, HVAC, ceiling fans, electrical wiring, plumbing, new decks, new painting and much more. The main house features a formal living room, formal traditional dining room, as well as a den and a third floor bonus room. The rear of the home consists of TWO Income-Generating, One bed/One bath apartments, both with kitchens, separate entrances & shared washer/dryer. This home ALSO includes an unfinished basement, uncommon in downtown Charleston. This prime location is walking distance to Upper King Street, MUSC, CofC, and Colonial Lake. Off-street parking for 3 cars. Contact Frank Taylor for more information.
The Kiawah Seabrook Group of dunes properties is a seasoned team of real estate professionals who make their home at our beautiful office at Bohicket Marina. Starting with four agents in January 2011, the group has continued to grow and thrive while representing buyers and sellers in the unique communities of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. These agents work and live on the islands. They know and love these areas and helping others to make them “home” is paramount to our success.
Whether it’s a vacation home, an investment or a primary residence, the Kiawah Seabrook Group is ready to help you find your island home. Give Becky Manna a call at the Bohicket Office to see how The KSG can help you!
Johns Island, SC 29455
Curious about what the KSG currently has listed? Here are some of the fantastic properties we represent on Kiawah, Seabrook, and Johns Island:
$250,000 : 2015 Long Bend Drive, Seabrook Island2 beds, 2 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
1 bed, 1 bathListing Provided by Dunes Properties
0 beds, 0 bathListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$280,000 : 4248 Mariners Watch, Kiawah Island1 bed, 1 bathListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$425,000 : 911 Sealoft Villa Drive, Seabrook Island2 beds, 3 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$345,000 : 1507 Marsh Haven, Seabrook Island2 beds, 2 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
0 beds, 0 bathListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$964,000 : 2410 The Haul Over, Seabrook Island4 beds, 4 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$1,345,000 : 8 Airy Hall, Kiawah Island4 beds, 5 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$799,000 : 253 Governors Drive, Kiawah Island2 beds, 2 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
$599,000 : 2728 Seabrook Island Road, Seabrook Island4 beds, 4 bathsListing Provided by Dunes Properties
See all KSG listings.
(all data current as of 11/18/2018)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
More than 5,000 Homes Sold This Summer in the Charleston Area.
These Charleston area market statistics were recently released by the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®. “The summer months were, as expected, a period of steady, sustainable growth” said 2014 CTAR President, Corwyn Melette. “About 40% of sales for the year close during the summer, and this summer, sales activity and price growth has our market well-positioned for a strong finish to 2014” Melette said. At the end of August, there were 5,961 homes classified as active for sale in the CTMLS. At this time last year, there were 5,702.
Click on Area for Detailed Analysis
These Charleston area market statistics were recently released by the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®. “Our housing market continues to be where the economy experts thought it would be – steady, sustainable growth in both closed transactions and median price,” said 2014 CTAR President, Corwyn Melette. “With five straight months of inventory growth – albeit small, single digit percentage growth – some prospective buyers, who may not have found what they were looking for in the spring, should take another look and see if they find something that fits their needs now,” he added.
A multi-lingual native of Austria, Astrid McManus is a former corporate lawyer with a unique background. Astrid moved to Charleston’s historic district from Vienna in 2000 and began her real estate career in the downtown market, where she quickly put her years of varied experience to work.
Astrid has been living and working on Kiawah Island since 2005, where she has established herself in the golf community. She enjoys her connections to the resort islands, and is known for her success in local competitions. Astrid will be working from dunes properties’ Bohicket Marina Office with the Kiawah Seabrook Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843)906-0325.
Realtor® Michael McManus is a Savannah native who arrived in the Lowcountry from Georgia in 1990, when he was presented with the opportunity to work at Kiawah Island. Michael began his career working on the Design and Development Team of Cousins Properties of Atlanta and the Sea Pines Company of Hilton Head Island on their joint venture project, Big Canoe.
Although Michael works in the real estate side of business, he remains keenly interested in design. Michael will be based out of The Real Estate Studio at 214 King Street and can be reached at email@example.com or (843)243-0264.
Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November 30. On June 5, the first storm of the year, Andrea, formed and eventually made her way from Florida right up the east coast. As far as the Charleston Coast, she left little more than some rainy days in her wake and actually was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone by June 7. Still, a storm forming so early in the season, combined with the over-zealous media coverage has people naturally discussing the “what ifs” of storms on the Charleston Coast.
It’s no secret that any Atlantic coastal community is at risk… even if it’s minimal risk. So, what do we think about buying, selling and living on the coast as it relates to these seasonal storms? Donnie Whitaker, an agent in our Isle of Palms Office, recently wrote a post on his blog about hurricanes and the Charleston Coast. Our President, Randy Walker, also took to our blog in 2008 to expound upon the subject, after one of those pesky (but uneventful) tropical storms passed over.
Last Week, CTAR reported on the Charleston real estate market statistics through May 2013. Year to date figures show a lot of movement in the market. Here’s a peek:
• Charleston Area Home Sales Volume Is Up 21% From 2012.
• 2013 Year-to-date Prices Are Up Almost $20k.
• Mortgage Rates Are Up .6% to 4.1% since May 1.
• 2013 Inventory Has Not Increased Significantly.
• Homes Are Selling at a Faster Rate than 2012.
CTAR President Owen Tyler says, “Buyers are acting quickly, as the market gets more and more competitive. Banks are also processing short sales, specifically, much faster than they have in the past—the long, drawn out process of purchasing such a property is beginning to wane”
Another interesting highlight is that West Ashley inside I-526 has become “an area to watch.” With most of its activity centered on the Byrnes Down, Avondale and South Windermere areas, the sales volume in this area has increased by 57%, and median price is up nearly 12% from $174,700 to $195,000.
To read the entire article and see all the market stats through May 2013 visit The Charleston Realtors May Market Report
by Traci Magnus
I can’t tell you how many locals have mentioned having fond memories of the Red and White Grocery Store just next to the IOP connector on Palm Boulevard. Of course, by now anyone who lives on or near the island knows that the Red and White is no more, and the days of “Newton Farms” are soon to begin.
Donnie Whitaker, a Realtor® in our Isle of Palms Office, has written a post dedicated to these upcoming changes on the Isle of Palms. Read “Farewell Red and White Grocery- See You Soon Newton Farms” from Donnie’s blog.
You will never leave Charleston in want or need of something beautiful or something delicious. We offer both in abundance. Today, when I looked out the front window at The Real Estate Studio, I noticed in our planters something small, orange, beautiful, and delicious. Our Calamondin orange bushes have begun to fruit! This is particularly exciting since it was only recently that I tasted the most amazing local marmalade, crafted from this species of orange.
The Calamondin is most likely of Chinese origin, and is thought to be introduced in Florida in 1899. It is believed to be a cross between Citrus reticulata (Mandarin orange group) and Fortunella japonica (Kumquat group). It’s particularly interesting because as a hybrid, it does not naturally occur in the wild. It is now quite prevalent in the Philippines and other area of Southeast Asia. The peel is thin and smooth, yellow to yellow-orange and easily separable. The small oranges make amazing marmalade or (my personal favorite) they can be frozen whole and used as ice cubes in beverages such as tea, water, and cocktails.
Our friends at The Local Palate recently featured the a recipe for Calamondin Marmalade. Check it out HERE.
If you’re hankering for some of this delicious citrus spread and don’t fancy making your own, read up on Charleston local Laura Wichmann Hipp in this Charleston Magazine Article. Hipp not only gives amazing tours of some of our fine city’s homes and gardens (complete with a tea party!) but she also sells the marmalade she makes from her own personal Calamondin mini-grove.