Getting to Know Charleston’s Beaches: Guide to Edisto Beach

Getting to Know Charleston’s Beaches: Guide to Edisto Beach

Of the Charleston area’s public beaches, Edisto Beach is undoubtedly the least well-known. It’s farther away than the area’s other beaches (unless you live on the outskirts of West Ashley), and it lacks much of the panache of Kiawah Island and Isle of Palms.

These are some of the main reasons why you should plan a visit.

What Edisto Beach lacks in proximity and flair, it more than makes up for with its laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty. Locals refer to the speed of life on the island as “Edislow,” and this tells you just about everything you need to know. The beaches are beautiful, the food is good, the people are friendly—it’s the perfect place for a day trip or a Charleston beach vacation.

Getting to Know Edisto Beach

In this series on getting to know Charleston’s beaches, we’re starting each article with a general overview of the island itself. If you're familiar with the area, you can skip ahead to the next section.

There is one way to get to Edisto Beach from Charleston. From Savannah Highway, you’ll take Route 162 through Hollywood and continue until it turns into Route 164. Keep driving for about two and a half miles, and you’ll arrive at a four-way stop controlled by a flashing light.

Here, you’ll make a left onto Route 174, and you’ll keep going straight until you get to the beach. Along the way, you’ll pass Roxbury Mercantile (which is a great place to stop for lunch) and Kings Market (where you can pick up local produce and fresh baked goods for your rental house), and you’ll cross over the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). This portion of Route 174 is the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway, and it is one of the most scenic stretches of road in the Charleston area.

You’ll know you’re there when you get to the end of the road. Route 174 ends at Palmetto Boulevard, which is the front street along Edisto Beach.

10 Things to Know About Edisto Beach

Whether you are visiting Edisto Beach for the day or staying for the week, learning about the island in advance can help you get the most out of your stay. In this Guide to Edisto Beach, we cover where to park, where to eat, what to do, and everything in between. Keep reading to learn about:

1. Parking

Parking at Edisto Beach is easy—and free—nearly all of the time. There are 37 public beach access points located along Palmetto Boulevard, all of which have a small parking lot with free parking. You can also park along the street in designated areas; and, if you are having trouble finding a beach access point with an open space, you will most likely be able to find a spot along Point Street if you keep driving toward the south end of the island. Just be sure to watch the signs and observe the parking rules enforced by the Town of Edisto Beach.

Of course, if you are renting a vacation home on Edisto Island, then parking won’t be an issue. All vacation rentals on the island are within walking distance to the beach.

Another option if you don’t want to spend time looking for parking on a busy day is to park at Edisto Beach State Park. While you’ll need to pay ($8 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 6 to 15), you won’t have trouble finding a spot, and the parking lot is within walking distance to the beach as well as most of the island’s restaurants and shops. Parking at Edisto Beach State Park is free if you have an All Park Passport.

2. Breakfast, Brunch, and Coffee

There are a few options for breakfast, brunch, and coffee on Edisto Beach. One convenient thing about visiting Edisto Beach is that there is a small grocery store on the island (located on Route 174 in between Palmetto Boulevard and Jungle Road). Here, you can stock up on food and coffee if you’re staying for the week.

If you are looking for options for eating out or getting a cup of coffee on the go, coffee shops and restaurants that serve breakfast on Edisto Island include:

3. Lunch and Dinner

While the options for breakfast, brunch, and coffee on Edisto Island are fairly limited, there are plenty of options for lunch and dinner. While many of the island’s restaurants specialize in local seafood, there are a variety of other options as well. Edisto has a few waterfront restaurants—including Pressley’s at the Marina and Dockside Restaurant & Bar—and Pelicans Ice Cream & Pizza located at the Edisto Beach Pier (102 Palmetto Boulevard) is one of the few oceanfront dining options in the Charleston area.

Along with the restaurants listed above, other options for lunch and dinner at Edisto Beach include:

  • Briny Swine (3731 Docksite Road)
  • Coot’s Bar and Grill (102 Palmetto Boulevard)
  • Ella & Ollie’s (21 Fairway Drive)
  • Sandbar Pizza Joint (114 Jungle Road)
  • Tortuga’s Mexican Grill (114 Jungle Road) (lunch only)
  • Whaley’s Store (2801 Myrtle Street)

4. Ice Cream

Going out for ice cream is a staple of any beach vacation. There are a few options for ice cream on Edisto Island, all of which are within walking distance to the beach. Each of these ice cream spots has free parking as well—as do all of the restaurants listed above.

Your options for getting ice cream at Edisto Beach are:

  • 3 Gulls Creamery (114 Jungle Road)
  • Pelicans Pizza & Ice Cream (102 Palmetto Boulevard)
  • Sugartime (101 Jungle Road)

Sugartime also has a huge candy selection with a wall of jelly beans as well as a variety of nostalgic favorites. If you are looking for saltwater taffy on Edisto Island, Sugartime is the place to go for this as well.

5. Public Beach Access

Public beach access is plentiful on Edisto Island. As noted above, there are 37 beach access points on the Island. These are spread along the island’s nearly three miles of oceanfront from Edisto Beach State Park to the southern tip of the island. The public beach access points closest to the pier are the most popular by far, and if you drive toward the southern end of Edisto Beach there is a good chance you will have a large section of the beach to yourself much of the year.

6. Points of Interest

The beach is undoubtedly the main point of interest on Edisto Island. But, depending on what you want to get out of your day trip or beach vacation, there are a few other spots you may want to visit during your time on the island as well. These include:

  • 114 Jungle Road – 114 Jungle Road is home to many of the island’s restaurants. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available.
  • Edisto Beach Pier – Visit the Edisto Beach Pier to have pizza or ice cream by the ocean. There is a large souvenir shop at the pier as well.
  • Edisto Beach State Park – Visit Edisto Beach State Park to explore the park’s palmetto-lined trails along the banks of Big Bay Creek behind the island.
  • Edisto Environmental Learning Center – The Edisto Environmental Learning Center is a great option for families with small children.
  • The Marina at Edisto Beach – Visit the Marina at Edisto Beach for lunch or dinner, or to rent a kayak to explore the Big Bay Creek.
Guide to Edisto Beach - The Marina is a popular place to eat, rent kayaks and take boat tours.
The Marina at Edisto Beach

7. Things to Do

Edisto Island offers the same things to do as the Charleston area’s other beaches, albeit in its own style and at its own pace. During your day trip or vacation to Edisto Beach, some of the things you may want to do include:

  • Going to the Beach – Edisto Island has several miles of oceanfront. While you can get to the beach with just a short walk from your car at any of the island’s public beach access points, you can also walk north toward Edisto Beach State Park for a more remote and undisturbed experience.
  • Going Out to Eat (or for Ice Cream) – Whether you drive, walk, rent a golf cart, or rent bikes, you can check out any of the island’s restaurants or ice cream shops. All of them are worth visiting, and you can make your choice based on what you’re in the mood to eat.
  • Hiking the Trails at Edisto Beach State Park – Edisto Beach State Park has several miles of trails, and exploring the trails is a great way to spend the morning or afternoon. The trails are mostly shaded, so they offer a reprieve from the sun during the hot summer months.
  • Biking, Walking, or Running on the Island – In addition to exploring the trails at Edisto Beach State Park, you can also bike, walk, or run throughout the entire island. Traffic is minimal, and there are sidewalks and bike lanes on the island’s main roads (Palmetto Boulevard and Jungle Road). The Edisto Beach Bike Path is a good option as well.
  • Kayaking in Big Bay Creek – If you bring your own kayak, you can access Big Bay Creek behind Edisto Island from the Live Oak Boat Landing (drive to the end of Oyster Row Lane). If you are interested in renting kayaks, you can do so at The Marina at Edisto Beach.
  • Visiting Botany Bay – Botany Bay is home to Edisto Island’s boneyard beach. Due to its unique natural environment, it has been used as a filming location for several films and shows. Visiting Botany Bay is well worth the short drive from the beach—just be sure to check the SCDNR’s website as hours vary by day and season.

Of course, many people come to Edisto Beach to relax, and you can easily park your car for the duration of your stay. If your plans consist of reading at the beach or on your vacation home’s deck, check out the Edisto Island Bookstore (547 Route 174) on your way in to pick up a book about the area or by one of the area’s local authors.

Botany Bay on Edisto Island
Botany Bay on Edisto Island

8. Outfitters and Beach Rentals

There are two main options for renting kayaks, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), bikes, golf carts, and other beach gear on Edisto Island. These are (i) Edisto Watersports & Tackle (3731 Docksite Road), and (ii) Island Bikes and Outfitters (140 Jungle Road). If you are interested in taking a boat cruise or going on a fishing charter, there are a couple of local options for this as well. Fontaine Charters and Edisto Shrimp Boat Charters are both located at The Marina at Edisto Beach.

9. Hotels and Vacation Rentals

The Wyndham Ocean Ridge is an “all-villa resort” located on the southern end of Edisto Island. Most visitors who come to Edisto Beach for vacation choose to rent one of the many vacation homes on the island. All of the vacation rentals on the island are within walking distance to the beach (with many oceanfront options), and prices are reasonable compared to the Charleston area’s other beaches.

Camping is a popular option at Edisto Beach as well. Both tent camping and RV camping are available at Edisto Beach State Park.

10. Living Full-Time on Edisto Island

Edisto Island has a small and close-knit community of full-time residents. While some full-time residents live at Edisto Beach, many choose to live slightly farther inland. Due to Edisto Island’s geography, there are several options for waterfront living on creeks and marshes that wind their way toward the ocean, and there are oceanfront homes north of Edisto Beach (but still on Edisto Island) in The Hammocks and Jeremy Cay as well.

A beach find at Edisto Beach State Park
A beach find at Edisto Beach State Park

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Edisto Beach, South Carolina

Is Edisto Island worth visiting?

Yes, Edisto Island is absolutely worth visiting! Edisto Beach has several miles of oceanfront, and all of the vacation rentals on the island are within walking distance to the beach. Edisto Island has restaurants and ice cream shops, kayak and bike rentals, and everything else you need for a perfect day trip or beach vacation. Plus, since it isn’t as heavily trafficked as Charleston’s other beaches, parking is a breeze, and you can almost always find a spot on the beach that you can have all to yourself.

Is Edisto Beach a nice beach?

Edisto Beach is very nice. With the northern end of the island consisting of Edisto Beach State Park and the southern end providing views of the ACE Basin, Edisto Beach is one of the most scenic beaches on the entire East Coast. The island has vacation rentals, restaurants, and a small grocery store, and it is the perfect place to go for a day trip or beach vacation if you want to get away from the crowds farther north at the beaches closer to Charleston.

Can you swim at Edisto Beach?

Yes, you can swim at Edisto Beach, although there are no lifeguards—which means that you swim at your own risk. This is true at many of the other beaches along South Carolina’s coast as well. The waves at Edisto Beach are generally small, and it is not uncommon to see families swimming and playing in the water throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.

Does Edisto Beach have free parking?

Yes, Edisto Beach has lots of free parking. All of the island’s 37 public beach access points have free parking lots; and, if you need to, you can park for free along the street in many areas. If you have an All Park Passport from South Carolina State Parks, you can park for free at Edisto Beach State Park as well.

Can you park on the street at Edisto Beach?

You can park on the street at Edisto Beach in many areas. Just like the Charleston area’s other beaches, just make sure to pay attention to the signs, and be courteous to the homeowners and renters who need to be able to access their driveways.

Are there sea turtles at Edisto Beach?

Yes, there are sea turtles at Edisto Beach. Loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beach from May through August, and their eggs typically hatch between July and October. If you see a sea turtle (including a baby sea turtle), it is important that you give the turtle plenty of space to feel comfortable and do what it needs to do without being frightened or disturbed.

What are the rules at Edisto Beach?

The Town of Edisto Beach enforces several beach rules and regulations. For example, all of the following are prohibited on the beach:

  • Bonfires
  • Glass containers
  • Leaving holes on the beach (which can be dangerous for people and sea turtles)
  • Littering
  • Motorized vehicles (including golf carts)
  • Unleashed dogs (May 1 through October 31)
  • Walking or driving on sand dunes

We hope you find this Guide to Edisto Beach useful. If you do, and if you decide to visit Edisto Beach for a day trip or on vacation, let us know @life_charleston.


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