Last updated: 9/22/2022 When you think South Carolina beaches everyone first thinks Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach. There are so many excellent island vacation destinations in South Carolina you don’t have to stick to just those two for vacation destinations. If you are looking for a bit more off the beaten path South Carolina vacation, these destinations are for you. For a small state with limited oceanfront like South Carolina, you will be shocked by the amount of awesome islands they have!
This little known island is a hidden gem. You can get to this island by taking a ferry from Hilton Head. Because of only being able to access this island by ferry, this is one of the most secluded islands in South Carolina. Once you make it to the island golf carts become your transportation. Daufuskie has about 3 miles of beachfront shoreline and picturesque views. There are many rental homes available and ready for your island vacation. You can check the schedule for the ferry service here: http://www.daufuskieisland.com/daufuskie-island-ferry-schedule/ There are many excellent vacation home rentals on Daufuskie available on VRBO and AirBNB, and since the island is only accessible by ferry, prices are usually quite low.
FRIPP ISLAND AND HARBOR ISLAND
Fripp Island and Harbor Island are located one bridge across from each other northwest of Hilton Head. They are typically less busy and hectic than the big tourist islands in South Carolina. What makes Fripp Island a great place for an island vacation is the fantastic views, beach, golf and restaurants. There are 2 golf courses directly on the beach, and 8 restaurants on the island. You don’t have to take a ferry to get to either Fripp or Harbor Island, you can drive from the mainland across the bridges. Once on the islands most people get around by golf cart or bicycle. Here is a shot from the ocean side golf course, the views are truly remarkable as you can see.
There are tons of awesome condo and house rentals on these islands, and while they generally run a little higher in price than Daufuskie, you are paying for the convenience of avoiding the ferry and having fantastic golf in your backyard. If the golfing doesn’t appeal to you then I would stay on Harbor Island, it is a little cheaper than Fripp with similar rentals available. You can check out VRBO’s available rentals here: VRBO Available Rentals- Fripp Island
ISLE OF PALMS
Isle of Palms is a pretty unique place. Located just east of Charleston, this South Carolina island has a huge number of 10+ bedroom houses that are available for rent. This is pretty unlike any place I’ve ever been, and is quite the site to see. Most of these mansions are renting from $1000 to $1500 a night. At first this might seem crazy but with 10 or more bedrooms these rentals sleep 25 or more people. If you have a large group going on an island vacation (multiple families, family reunions, etc) this works out to an absolute bargain. There aren’t very many locations in the US where you can rent houses on the beach this big.
A beach mansion of the Isle of Palms with friends or family is my absolute top recommendation for where to stay in South Carolina. Here is an example of one of the rentals I am referring to (currently renting for under $1500 a night and sleeps 25): Isle of Palms Mansion Rental on VRBO.com
Can’t you picture all of your family having a vacation in a house on the beach like this? While understandably chaotic, this is one of those once in a lifetime trips that no one will forget. If you have a group large enough to utilize the space, the rental cost per bedroom is actually pretty low. The beaches on Isle of Palms are fantastic, and it is about a 15 mile trip from the Charleston International Airport to the Isle of Palms. While the Charleston Airport isn’t huge, there is still a ton of daily direct flights in from many major US airports. There are tons of restaurants located within walking distance of most rentals on the island. My favorite restaurant here is the ACME Lowcountry Kitchen. They serve some of the best seafood in the area, and check the TripAdvisor reviews (4.7/5 with over 2500 reviews) TripAdvisor Reviews-ACME Lowcountry Kitchen
If I haven’t convinced you already of why Isle of Palms is one of the best island vacation destinations in South Carolina, I’ll leave you with the view from the rental mansion listed above. Happy Islanding!