Surf's Up at Folly Beach

By:Marie McAden


When you think about Charleston, South Carolina, surfing is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind. But ​Folly Beach, a natural barrier island just eight miles from Charleston, lays claim to some of the biggest and most bodacious swells on the East Coast.

Folly Beach is home to the famous “The Washout,” a natural phenomenon that was created when Hurricane Hugo washed away a block of beachfront homes, allowing the wind to blow unimpeded across the shore and through the wetlands into the Folly River. They say this wind effect is what causes the water to roll so well.

You don’t need to be a serious surfer to enjoy the waves at Folly Beach. During the summer months, the water temperature is a balmy 82 degrees and the swells average an easy one to three feet. There are also ample opportunities to take a surf lesson or two. Check out Mc​Kevlin’s, the oldest surf shop in South Carolina and one of the oldest on the entire East Coast. Opened in 1965, the shop is located on Center Street, the island’s funky commercial strip.

Ready to ride the waves at Folly Beach? Here are a handful of resources that should prove helpful.

Surf report: Get daily surf conditions at www.swellinfo.​com or call 843.633.0038.

Lessons: Private lessons are $40 an hour, including surfboard. Call ​McKevlin’s Surf Shop at 843.588.2247 to get contact information for local instructors.

Visitor tips: Street parking is allowed, but be sure your car is facing in the direction of traffic and completely off the road. You’ll get a ticket if any one of your tires is on asphalt.

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