Sullivan's Island has long been a favorite vacation destination for visitors looking for a quiet stretch of sand to plop down a beach chair and a cooler of cold drinks. With no hotels and little commercial development, the island's three miles of shoreline offer plenty of elbowroom to sit back, relax and enjoy the ocean view.
But chilling out on the beach isn't the only thing to do in this coastal retreat located just 20 minutes from Charleston. When you're ready to get out of your chair and slip into your flip flops, consider these five ways to enjoy the island:
1. Visit Fort Moultrie. Explore this national monument and learn about its two centuries of history defending the city of Charleston. Check out the museum exhibits and watch a 22-minute orientation film in the Visitor Center. Then pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour of the fort. The interpretive wayside exhibits will take you back in time from World War II to the Revolutionary War.
2. Take a photo of the Sullivan's Island Lighthouse. One of the last lighthouses to be built in the United States, it stands 140 feet and features a unique triangular and exceptionally slim design, making the black-and-white structure easy to spot on the island. While the lighthouse is closed to the public, it's still operational, lighting the way to Charleston's busy seaport.
3. Paddle the Intracoastal Waterway. Rent a stand-up paddleboard from Sealand Adventure Sports and cruise the inlets and coves along the backside of the island. The local outfitter also offers kiteboarding, surfing and SUP yoga lessons.
4. Bike the 3.3-square-mile island. Rent a bicycle from Sealand Adventure Sports and enjoy a leisurely ride through the beachside town's residential neighborhoods. When you're ready for a break, park your bike and browse the two blocks of galleries and shops in the center of town.
5. Try the local fare. Get a bite to eat at one of the outdoor cafés in the restaurant district, among them the famed Poe's Tavern, named after the literary icon who was stationed at Fort Moultrie from 1827-28. Another great choice is The Obstinate Daughter, a foodie favorite with its wide selection of unique dishes from griddled octopus to veal sweetbreads to lamb collar.