Folly Beach, the last barrier island before the Atlantic, rewards visitors with beautiful ocean vistas, soft white sand, top-notch fishing and surfing, the historic Morris Island lighthouse and few mystery tales. The beach is a short drive from downtown Charleston on scenic Hwy 171.
Tips to know before you go
• The beach is quite narrow at high tide, but it widens up late afternoon.
• Folly Beach is the only beach where alcohol is allowed (no glass bottles or cans). In the weekends the place gets crowded and party-like. When we were there, (mid-week during Spring Break) the atmosphere was very peaceful
• Parking can be a hassle in the weekends and during vacation months. There are metered spots along all public beach access pathways ($1 an hour, bring coins or small bills). Come early as they go fast.
The park offers the island only public restrooms, showers and changing rooms.
It also has a snack bar (hot-dogs, nachos, chips, ice-cream and flavored drinks) and a small beach gear stand. Lifeguards are on duty seasonally along the 600 feet beach front designated swimming area.
Park Hours: May - Labor Day: 9AM – 7PM (April, September, October until 6PM, November through March 10AM- 5PM)
• Dogs are not allowed on the beach May 1st through September 30th, from 10AM to 6PM.
• Drive below the speed limit police is known to be very generous with traffic tickets. If you find free parking along the street make sure the car is on the grass and off the pavement.
It first illuminated in 1876 when it replaced the old 1767 “Charleston Light”, one of the only ten pre-Revolutionary War lights in the colonies.
Today the lighthouse stands 1,600 feet offshore due to natural and man-made erosion.
Efforts are under way to save and preserve the light.
You can see the lighthouse from the beach after a half mile walk from the end of the road (east side of Folly Beach).
• Go surfing, kayaking, jet skiing or para-sailing.
• Leave a message on the famous Folly Beach boat, a lone and mysterious remnant of Hurricane Hugo.
• Hunt for the legendary six treasure chests…
Beware a ruthless pirate ghosts is standing guard, as Nancy Roberts discovered in her thrilling “Ghosts of the Carolinas” book!
• Solve the mystery of the “headless bodies…In May of 1987, fourteen bodies at a construction site at the west end of Folly Beach. The South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) investigated the remains…Twelve of the bodies were missing skulls and other major body parts…”
The SCIAA decided the men were from the Union Army’s 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, one of the first major American military units made up of black soldiers (remember Glory?)
Who and why beheaded the soldiers? Was it the bounty hunters, voodoo followers or something else?
We took the lazy approach…baked in the sun, splashed in the water and built sand-castles. Speaking of splashing, Charleston features a free, super cool water park downtown!
If time permits take the short drive to Wadmalaw Island and tour the country’s only tea farm, the Charleston Tea Plantation. The factory tour is free and you can also take the $10 trolley ride throughout the beautiful plantation grounds. Their annual popular “First Flush Festival” will be on May 16.
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Filed Under: Biking, Boating and Fishing, Carolina Beaches, Charleston, Folly Beach, Free Things to Do, Fun Carolina Outdoor Recreation, James Island, Swimming, Walking and Jogging
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