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Escape the Crowds on South Carolina’s Hidden Beaches

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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You'll find beautiful beaches all along the South Carolina coast. But if you want to get away to your own secluded stretch of paradise, try one of the hidden beaches on sparsely visited barrier islands.

Located all along the coastline from the southernmost point of the state to North Myrtle Beach, these sandy retreats offer a quiet place to walk by the seashore, search for shells or simply soak in the sun. Accessible only by boat, most of the islands remain undeveloped, leaving the beach as nature intended it to be.

Getting there offers its own rewards. Whether you take a ferry or boat cruise, paddle a kayak or ride a horse, the journey is as pleasurable as the destination.

Here are five of South Carolina's hidden beaches:


Bulls Island

bulls island cape romain national wildlife refuge
Hauntingly beautiful, Boneyard Beach is located on Bulls Island in the pristine Cape Romain National Wildife Refuge.

The largest of four barrier islands in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Bulls Island lies along one of the most pristine spans of coastline on the eastern seaboard. Its seven miles of beaches include the famed Boneyard Beach, where the remains of surf-battered trees are littered across the sand. Coastal Expeditions offers a ferry to the island, along with various guided excursions that include a Bulls Island beach drop, sunrise tour, kayak trip and multiday expedition.


Waites Island

waites island sea islands
You can visit the private and undeveloped Waites Island near North Myrtle Beach on a kayak or horseback riding tour.

Just north of North Myrtle Beach across Little River Inlet, this three-mile island includes an ecological research facility owned by Coastal Carolina University. Several outfitters offer kayak trips to Waites beach from nearby Cherry Grove Beach. Once on the island, you'll have more than an hour to spend swimming in the ocean or luxuriating on the sand. Inlet Point Plantation offers another fun option - a horseback riding tour along the island's shoreline.


Capers Island

capers island charleston sea island beaches
Just 15 miles north of Charleston, Capers Island offers visitors the opportunity to experience a beach in its natural state.

Take a scenic boat trip or kayak tour to this state heritage preserve located 15 miles north of Charleston at the southwestern end of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Along with a pristine beach, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a wide array of bird life from endangered brown pelicans to ruddy turnstones. Some 294 species of migratory birds have been spotted on the island. Like Bulls Island, Capers also has a "Boneyard Beach" created by years of erosion.


Morris Island

Morris Island Lighthouse Charleston
For an awesome view of the Morris Island Lighthouse, take a paddling excursion from Folly Beach.

Famous for its historic 19th-century lighthouse, this 840-acre uninhabited island lies at the mouth of Charleston Harbor across Lighthouse Inlet from Folly Beach. After years of erosion, today the 150-foot brick tower stands in the water just offshore. The beach, however, remains as beautiful as ever and is a great spot to look for seashells, particularly sand dollars. You can visit Morris Island on one of the boat or kayak tours offered by area outfitters.


Daufuskie Island

daufuskie island beaches
From Hilton Head Island, you can take a water taxi or catch a ferry to visit the secluded beaches of Daufuskie Island.

Located just across Calibogue Sound from Hilton Head Island, Daufuskie will make you feel like you're a million miles from civilization. It's not unusual to walk along its white sand beaches and not see a soul. To visit Daufuskie, you'll need to take a ferry or water taxi from Hilton Head to the public dock at Freeport Marina and then rent a golf cart to drive across the island to the beach. While you're there, don't miss the chance to explore the rest of this secluded South Carolina sea island and its many historic landmarks.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.