Relax at Sullivan’s Island Beach
Tucked between Charleston Harbor and the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island Beach is the perfect getaway. Though the beach is just minutes from downtown Charleston, arriving at Sullivan’s Island feels like stepping into a completely different world.
Sullivan's Island Beach
21 min drive
Sullivan’s Island is only about 3.4 square miles total, with a population of a little less than 2,000. The island was named for Captain Florence O’Sullivan, who was stationed as a lookout in the area in the 17th century.
It is notorious for being one of the largest slave ports in North American history; over 40% of the enslaved Africans brought to America during the colonial period passed through Sullivan’s Island. The Toni Morrison Society and the National Park Service have both dedicated memorials on the island in the name of those countless people who were enslaved, in the hopes that visitors would be reminded of the country’s wrongdoing.
The island has a small town, 2.5 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront, and little-to-no commercialization. Its coastline offers incredible views of the Morris Island Lighthouse, Fort Sumter, The Battery, and other iconic Charlestonian structures. The pristine public beaches of Sullivan’s Island are accessed from various points across the islands, called “stations”, a fun historic tidbit left over from when visitors to the beach were transported by trolleys.
Sullivan’s Island is especially known for its serene atmosphere and local seafood restaurants. Favorite dining places include The Obstinate Daughter, a nautical-themed restaurant with elegant Lowcountry fare, Poe’s Tavern, which is known for its burgers, and The Co-Op, which offers quick bites and the perfect beach beverages. Speaking of Poe’s Tavern – Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story, The Golden Bug, is set on Sullivan’s Island.
The island is also home to Fort Moultrie, a national monument. This Revolutionary War relic defended Charleston for over two centuries. The fort now offers interactive exhibits and tours, which will allow visitors to learn about its extensive history. Poe was actually stationed at Fort Moultrie from 1827-1828.
Sullivan’s Island also provides countless opportunities for watersports, if you prefer more active beach days. Kiteboarding is a popular activity for visitors to the island, as is surfing on the windier days. When the wind picks up, the shoreline is sure to be dotted with the colorful gear of kiteboarders.
The beaches’ biggest appeal is their natural feel; the lack of commercialization on Sullivan’s Island means that the whole area has retained a laid-back energy. There aren’t many public facilities on the beaches, so be sure to come prepared with everything you need for a day at the beach.
Whether you are visiting Sullivan’s Island for a relaxing day at the beach, an exhilarating kiteboarding adventure, or an educational visit to Fort Moultrie, the area is sure to please.