Despite its numerous barrier islands and miles of sandy beaches, Charleston has relatively few restaurants on the ocean. But, there are some, and they are all worth visiting. Here’s what you need to know about the oceanfront restaurants in Charleston.
Whether you live in Charleston or are visiting on vacation, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll want to go out to eat. Since you’re in Charleston, you’ll also most likely want to be by the water.
But, what about the ocean? Despite its many miles of pristine beaches, Charleston doesn’t have that many oceanfront restaurants. While this limits your options for oceanfront dining, it’s ultimately a good thing. Compared to many other beach towns, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach have all remained relatively undeveloped—at least directly along their coasts. Sure, there are oceanfront houses and condos, but most of the commercial activity has been restricted to further inshore.
With that said, there are oceanfront restaurants in Charleston, SC. We previously published a list of some of the most-popular Charleston restaurants on the water, and that list included a few restaurants on the ocean. But, if you’re looking for oceanfront only, this is the list you want.
7 Oceanfront Restaurants in Charleston, SC
If you want to eat at an oceanfront restaurant in Charleston, you’ll need to choose between Folly Beach and Isle of Palms. While Charleston has several beaches, these are the only two nearby that have restaurants on the ocean. You’ll also find an oceanfront restaurant on the pier at Edisto Beach; and, if you head down to Kiawah Island, you’ll find some restaurants with ocean views there as well.
But, for this article, we’re staying close to downtown Charleston. From the peninsula, Folly Beach is about a 20-minute drive to the south, while Isle of Palms is about a 20-minute drive north through Mount Pleasant or via Sullivan’s Island. With this criterion in mind, here are Charleston’s oceanfront restaurants:
Isle of Palms
BLU Beach Bar & Grill
BLU Beach Bar & Grill is located on the main floor of the Tides hotel at Folly Beach. Located at 1 Center Street, you can’t miss it. The Tides is the only oceanfront hotel on Folly Beach (and one of a select few oceanfront hotels in the Charleston area), and it is directly in front of you as you head toward the beach from James Island.
Breakfast is served from 7:30am to 10:30am daily, and lunch service starts at 11:30am. The dining room closes at 10:00pm, while the oceanfront tiki bar stays open until 11:00pm. The main dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the beach and the Folly Beach Pier, and BLU Beach Bar & Grill also has an oceanfront covered patio—and this is the place to sit as long as it’s not too hot outside.
The breakfast menu includes classics like pancakes, French toast, and omelets, as well as smoked salmon, Monte Cristo, and bacon and egg sandwiches. The lunch and dinner menus offer good variety as well, though vegetarians have limited options after the breakfast menu closes.
Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill
Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill is located on Isle of Palms at 1120 Ocean Boulevard. If you drive to the island on the Isle of Palms Connector, you’ll turn right on Ocean Boulevard, which is the main drag through the middle of IOP. The ocean will be on your left, and you’ll come to Coconut Joe’s just after passing the gravel public parking lot on your right.
Coconut Joe’s is open for lunch daily starting at 11:00am, and it stays open until 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays (it closes an hour earlier the rest of the week). This oceanfront restaurant in Charleston, SC also serves brunch starting at 10:00am on the weekend. Brunch options range from fried coconut fritters with pineapple-coconut mascarpone to piña colada French toast, a chicken and waffle sandwich, and a brunch burger. The main menu also includes a variety of unique options as well as some southern favorites, and there is a wide range of options on the drink menu, which is also available at the rooftop bar.
Coda Del Pesce
Coda Del Pesce is located right next to Coconut Joe’s at 1130 Ocean Boulevard. Its intimate oceanfront setting is great for a nice dinner out, and the menu is easily on par with the view. Serving a variety of pasta and seafood dishes, Coda Del Pesce offers “fresh, locally or sustainably caught seafood in primi, secondi and piatti selections that change daily based on what’s fresh and available.”
Papi’s Taqueria is located just south of Coconut Joe’s and Coda Del Pesce at 1012 Ocean Boulevard. As the restaurant’s website states, “Located on the beautiful shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Papi's Taqueria is a purveyor of awesome beach tacos.”
They’re not wrong. The tacos at Papi’s Taqueria are indeed awesome; and, while the main dining room doesn’t have an ocean view, the small upstairs patio does. We love tacos; and, whether you live in Charleston or are staying on Isle of Palms for a beach vacation, Papi’s Taqueria deserves a visit when you’re in the mood for Mexican food.
Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar
Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar is located on the newly-renovated Folly Beach Pier. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:00am to 8:00pm, Pier 101 offers indoor seating with ocean views and covered seating on the pier. This oceanfront restaurant in Charleston, SC serves all of your fried favorites; and, while not particularly vegetarian-friendly, non-meat-eaters can piece together a salad and some appetizers and sides for a light meal with an ocean breeze.
Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar also serves key lime pie and a chocolate banana marble cake for dessert; or, you can go next door and get ice cream to take with you on a stroll down the pier. At more than 1,000 feet long, the pier offers a unique view of the beach, and it’s well worth walking all the way to the end.
Roasted Marketplace is a coffee shop located in the Tides hotel at Folly Beach. It is accessible from the hotel’s main lobby and from the beach, and is open to both hotel guests and other beachgoers. Open daily from 6:00am to 7:00am, Roasted Marketplace serves Starbucks coffee, juice, muffins, and other grab-and-items that you can either eat in the small café or just outside at tables by the ocean.
The Windjammer is another of Charleston’s oceanfront restaurants located on Isle of Palms. The Windjammer is just south of Papi’s Taqueria (at 1008 Ocean Boulevard), and offers a menu that includes appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, fish, shrimp, crab legs, and more. Peel-and-eat shrimp and snow crab legs are beachfront classics, and you can crack or peel on the deck overlooking the ocean from lunchtime through 2:00am.
The Windjammer also regularly has live music, and getting in during shows requires a fee (usually between $10 and $30 depending on the band). But, if a raucous atmosphere by the beach is your vibe, then the memories will be well worth the price of admission.
Map of Oceanfront Restaurants in Charleston, SC
Not familiar with the area? While many long-time locals are intimately familiar with Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, if you’re new to Charleston or visiting on vacation, figuring out exactly where to go might require some navigation. Here’s a map of Charleston’s oceanfront restaurants that you can use to get pointed in the right direction:
Getting around Folly Beach and getting around Isle of Palms are both pretty easy. Whichever one you choose, you’ll come into the beach on the main drag, and that’s where you’ll find the oceanfront restaurants listed above. Parking is pretty easy as well, although it’s different at each beach. If you go to Isle of Palms, you’ll most likely want to pay for street parking on Ocean Boulevard or go to the public parking lot just across the street on Pavilion Drive. If you go to Folly Beach, you’ll most likely be street parking or parking at one of the public beach access points. Street parking on Folly is free in most areas—just make sure you pay attention to the signs and get all four tires off of the road.
What about oceanfront restaurants on Sullivan’s Island? While Sullivan’s Island has some great restaurants, none of them are on the ocean. But, they are just a few blocks from the beach, so you can easily have lunch or dinner on Sullivan’s Island and then head to the beach for the afternoon or take a walk on the sand at sunset. With that said, if you are truly looking for an oceanfront restaurant in Charleston, then you’ll need to drive across the bridge to Isle of Palms or head south to Folly Beach.
We hope you find this guide to Charleston’s oceanfront restaurants useful; and, if you visit one of these restaurants, we encourage you to let us know @life_charleston.
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