Folly Beach is a lovely little beach town on a barrier island in Greater Charleston. The beach is a popular surf spot and the town is a popular beach-going destination for residents and visitors alike, with lots of cozy beach cottages and a small but bustling business district.
Folly Beach is a 12 square mile barrier island situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River. The island and town have a reputation as a surfing destination as well as a bohemian, laid back beach town with several small beach shops, restaurants, and beach bars. The beach and town are as popular with Charleston locals as they are with visitors.
Folly Beach sits at the end of State Road 171, just over 10 miles south of Charleston. From Charleston proper, you can take the James Island Expressway (State Road 30) or US 17 south to Folly Road (SR 171), then follow it south. Once in town, there are parking lots that charge $5/space, although you might get lucky and find a spot on the side of the street.
- Folly Beach Pier, 101 E Arctic Ave, ☏ . Hours vary by season; typically sunrise to sunset, with extended hours in summer. Extending out from the center of town, this long pier is an excellent place for fishing and makes for a pleasant walk over the waves, particularly at sunset. Free; fee required for fishing.
- 1 Morris Island Lighthouse, at the east end of Folly Island (take Ashley Avenue east from Folly Beach all the way to the end of the road, park on the side of the road, and walk along the trail the rest of the way). Situated off the coast, Morris Light is a picturesque tower that was once a functioning lighthouse, but was abandoned as erosion caused it to be isolated from the shoreline. Today it's preserved as a local landmark, viewable from a quiet and scenic beach.
- Folly Beach. The beach here is one of the most popular in the area, and gets quite crowded in summer. However, it's busiest at the center of town near the pier; quieter sections can be found to the east and west of town, though parking will be harder to find. The waves are relatively high for a Carolina beach, making it a popular surf spot.
- Folly Beach County Park, 1100 West Ashley Avenue, ☏ . A park at the western end of the island with a nice stretch of beach with lifeguards on duty in season and wildlife viewing areas.
- The Porgy House. “The Porgy House” is a cottage on the island where Charleston authors Dubose and Dorothy Heyward lived in the 1930s. In June of 1934, American composer and pianist, George Gershwin came to town to write an opera based off of Dubose’s novel, Porgy. Gershwin stayed at a beachfront cabin near the Heywards and spent most of his summer at their house writing the music for the opera, “Porgy and Bess”.
- Folly Beach Crab Shack, 26 Center Street, ☏ . Daily 11AM-2AM. A fun seafood restaurant where you can get crab legs, shellfish, and shrimp by the bucket, with Southern favorites like shrimp and grits. Outdoor shaded patio and very laid-back setting; indeed, this place is something of a local hang-out.
- Tides Folly Beach, 1 Center St, ☏ . A mid-rise hotel right in the middle of town, facing the beach next to the pier. Rooms with balconies and one king-sized bed or two queen-sized beds. Onsite restaurant and cafe, heated pool, fitness room, room service, free Wi-Fi. Rooms tend to start at ~$200.
There's only one way in, and most people visiting Folly Beach will be coming from Charleston, with its many historic attractions. Other beaches in the area include the popular Isle of Palms and the quieter Sullivan's Island, both to the north on the other side of Charleston. To the south, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island are more isolated and are excellent places to see wildlife.