Top Beaches in South Carolina
The top beaches in South Carolina are all right here, near Myrtle Beach. While the great Palmetto State is known for everything from its golf courses to historic districts, the beaches are where it really sets itself apart. The countless sandy shores along the Grand Strand make it almost impossible to choose the best beach in South Carolina. They all offer soft, luscious sand and warm-tempered waters, but some stand out from the rest, including Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, and a few others.
Each city offers things to do on and off the shore, while providing a front row seat to the beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean and wide, expansive reaches of sand—it’s no wonder these cities are jam-packed with vacationers every summer. Check out the top beaches in South Carolina and on The Grand Strand below.
Myrtle Beach Beaches
Myrtle Beach beaches make up one of the largest shorelines in the area and feature some of the best spots for beachgoers. Located right along Highway 17, the city of Myrtle Beach offers something for everyone. You’ll find lodging options for couples, groups, and families near many of the top beaches in South Carolina.
Visit The Caravelle, Sea Watch, or another resort for a relaxing getaway; take advantage of the great amenities at Ocean Reef Hotel or Sea Crest Resort. The convenient oceanfront hotels give you easy access to the beach with all the sunshine, sand, and surf you could want. And, with tons of area watersports to choose from, including parasailing, pontoon rides, and jet skiing, you’re sure to have plenty of options for exciting, fun-filled days.
When you need a break from the beach, the downtown Myrtle Beach area also offers plenty of attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a fascinating way to see the coast like never before. Or, head to nearby Broadway at the Beach for a Helicopter Adventures tour, go explore WonderWorks indoor amusement park, or visit the sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium.
Shop until you drop at the Tanger Outlets shopping center, and continue your spree at Barefoot Landing, an entertaining area with restaurants and stores. While you’re there, stop into Alligator Adventure, the reptile capital of the world. Whether you head north, south, or stay in the heart of the city, you’re guaranteed the best family beaches in Myrtle Beach, and an active, adventurous South Carolina vacation.
North Myrtle Beach
For quieter beaches close to Myrtle Beach, head to its sister city, North Myrtle Beach. This area boasts a beautiful coastline made up of four previously independent beaches: Windy Hill, Crescent, Ocean Drive, and the ever-popular Cherry Grove. The shoreline here is always decorated with vacationers and locals, and makes an inviting setting for families to have a wonderful time in the sun, creating lasting memories.
While North Myrtle Beach does have some of the best family beaches in South Carolina, it also offers a lot of the greatest attractions. This destination can easily provide a full day of fun for vacationers of any age. Many of the top putt putt golf courses are here, like Mayday Miniature Golf, Molten Mountain Mini Golf and Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. While in North Myrtle Beach, adults may also enjoy an afternoon at The Duplin Winery or try their luck at the Big M Casino which sails out of nearby Little River.
This coastal area affords easy access to unforgettable fishing excursions too. Whether you’re traveling with adults or kids, everyone enjoys taking a chance at the catch of a lifetime. Select from a variety of whole-day, half-day, or sunset cruises from Calabash Fishing Fleet or Hurricane Fleet and experience a safe but exciting day on the Atlantic. If you’re staying in North Myrtle Beach, or visiting for the day, you’re sure to find tons of sunshine, sand, laughter!
Cherry Grove Beach
One of the best South Carolina beaches is Cherry Grove, located in the northernmost part of North Myrtle Beach. This little gem is a relaxing spot with wide, sandy beaches and an extensive history that includes the Cherry Grove Pier, a well-loved area landmark built in the early 1950s and rebuilt in the intervening years since then.
Beach lovers come to Cherry Grove to sit back, relax, enjoy a sunset or two and live on island time. You will find numerous oceanfront resorts here and a wide range of vacation homes ideal for any family trip, friends vacation, or golf getaway. While staying in Cherry Grove, visit any of the must-try restaurants in North Myrtle Beach to treat yourself to some of the area’s best dining. Other longtime favorites include The Shack, Duffy Street Seafood, and Mission BBQ. Enjoy fresh seafood cooked the southern way, and restaurants with all kinds of cuisine to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Stay and play at one of the friendliest beaches in South Carolina, Surfside Beach. This laid-back beach community was incorporated into the Grand Strand in 1964 and has been known as the “family beach” ever since. Surfside caters to everyone: The beach has three access points, plus the city was named the first autism-friendly travel destination in the world.
The clean, expansive shore accommodates groups large and small, and features lifeguards stationed across the beach and accessible showers and bathrooms. Those are just some of the reasons this is one of the best family beaches in South Carolina.
The city of Surfside also has countless public parks, rec centers, and playgrounds located all across town. In these parks you’ll find lively games of tennis, bocce, shuffleboard, and more on almost any given day. After spending the day at Surfside Beach, travel only a few miles to enjoy nearby Myrtle Beach attractions, including the Hollywood Wax Museum, Sky Zone entertainment park, and ATV tours at Ride at Battery Park. If relaxation is more your mode, try a ride on the Barefoot Queen Riverboat or a Voyager Dolphin Cruise.
Whether you stay at Surfside Beach Resort or at a hotel in nearby Myrtle Beach, you’ll have a grand time tasting the great food, meeting friendly people, and exploring one of the best beaches in South Carolina. With all that Surfside has to offer, it won’t take long to see how this “family beach” city got its name.
Garden City Beach
Not all beaches in South Carolina are as pretty as Garden City Beach. Located just south of Surfside Beach, this much smaller community is known for its great sense of togetherness and hospitality, especially for families. Since Garden City Beach rests at the ocean and inlet, it is a great spot for crabbing, fishing, and watersports.
The heart and center of Garden City is the Garden City Pier, a lively, fun, community-filled landmark. The pier is often filled with anglers fishing by day, and by night, the setting sun brings live music and dancing across the boardwalk. Families also enjoy the Garden City Pavilion Arcade, located across from the boardwalk. The nearby vacation rentals provide excellent accommodations for families or couples looking to experience it all.
Aside from the pier, visitors will find endless entertainment in Garden City and nearby communities, including Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet. Popular attractions include Gilligan’s Island Funland Golf, Tupelo Bay Golf Center, Riddles Escape Room, and Village Surf Shoppe.
Before hitting the beach, stop at Eggs Up Grill for a hearty meal from this longtime South Carolina favorite. Break from the sun to enjoy waterway views during lunch or dinner at Gulfstream Cafe, or Conch Cafe, and if you’re craving seafood, Murrells Inlet offerings include Crab Daddy’s Calabash Seafood Buffet, Wahoo’s Fish House and Lee’s Inlet Kitchen.
Pawleys Island Beach
Known as “Arrogantly Shabby,” Pawleys Island holds one of South Carolina’s best kept secrets: its beach. This is one of the quieter, more exclusive beaches in the state, offering some of the most beautiful shoreline, even though it stretches a mere four miles. Though this island is small, it offers plenty to do, and day trips to Charleston are just a short drive away.
Lounge at this fabulous South Carolina beach, and then hop across the causeway to the town of Pawleys Island for eateries serving fresh-caught seafood and countless types of pimento cheese. This is home to the famous ‘Palmetto Cheese’ found commercially all across the US. Some of Pawleys best restaurants include Frank’s and Frank’s Outback, Chive Blossom Cafe, as well as Perrone’s Fine Food & Wine Market. Other popular places include BisQit, The Pawleys Island Tavern and Bistro 217—all are great places to grab a bite before heading back to the beach.
Make a day of your beach trip by visiting the beautiful shops and boutiques. Eleanor Pitts Fine Jewelry and Gifts is a staple of Pawleys Island that has been around for nearly 35 years. Give your resort-wear a boost with selections from The Joggling Board, Mimi Seabrook, and Pawleys Pedalar/Men’s Store.
Whatever brings you to Pawleys Island, you’ll find its beach to be one of the top in the state. The fine dining and fabulous shopping make this beach a beautiful destination ideal for a quieter vacation.
The great state of South Carolina is known for its “Smiling Faces and Beautiful Places” and it’s no wonder why. The lovely beaches up and down the coast rank among the top in the nation, and we think these six are the top beaches in South Carolina. Whether you seek quiet solitude or an active play day, there’s something for everyone here in the Grand Strand. Find a hotel deal and include any of these beaches in your plans to make your trip unforgettable.