With three beautiful beaches in close proximity to its downtown district and a harbor connected to waterways lined with numerous edge-of-the-water bars, Charleston offers an endless array of prospective venues where a person can appease all of the previously mentioned salt water comforts. You no doubt have your favorites.
So, let us shake off the stress of the day, kick off our shoes and follow the way of the opportunistic pelican and frolicking dolphin to five waterside locations I place on the top of my list of favorite toe dipping locations. Places where palm trees are growing, a warm breeze is blowing, a beautiful sunset is burning up the atmosphere, and there's music and dancing and lovers romancing in the salty evening air.
1) Folly Island--Morris Island Lighthouse--"knee deep in the water somewhere."
On the north tip of Folly Island is a secluded stretch of beach with a scenic view of the Morris Island Lighthouse. It is a considerable walk from the parking area to the beach and because of the currents it is not a favorable place to swim--reasons why you will not see large numbers of people. On the walk to the beach, you will pass remains of building foundations left by Hurricane Hugo. Old, graying trees lines portions of the beach and make for great pictures with the lighthouse in the background. It is a great place to wade out into the water and cast your fishing line for a variety of fish.
2) Botany Bay Beach--"the only worry in the world is whether the tide is going to reach your chair."
Botany Bay Beach is part of Botany Bay Plantation. The beautiful beach is a pleasant half mile walk from the parking area. Weather worn palmetto trees grayed by the salty sea breezes and age line the sea shelled beach. Visitors indulge in a peculiar custom of lining the trunks of downed trees with sea shells and hanging them on their branches. Some people come to swim, some come to fish, some come to look at the shells, some come to take photographs and some spread out beach blankets under beach umbrellas. Walking into the waters close to the shore can be precarious due to the numerous sharp shells in the water. Botany Bay Plantation personifies the reasons why I love Charleston and the Lowcountry. It is idyllic.
3) Breach Inlet--Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island--"toes in the water."
During the day, you can spot me standing on the shore with baited hook drifting in the currents of Breach Inlet--an ideal place for surf fishing and watching the dolphins splash around. It is never crowded. There is no swimming here because of the dangerous currents, but it is only a short walk to where you can swim. You don't have to pay for parking like you do near the connector and Front Beach. Great place to view the kite surfers across the inlet on Sullivan's Island on a breezy day. It is also my favorite location for releasing wine bottles into the outgoing current with messages in them. I have a great story about one of the released wine bottles. At sunset, you may find me at the rooftop bar of the Boathouse Restaurant.
4) Front Beach--Isle of Palms--"picturing yourself in the salty evening air on some beach, somewhere with cold margaritas."
Isle of Palms was the first beach I went to when I moved to the Charleston area. During Spoleto Festival, it is the location of the sand sculpting contest. I have fished by the pillars of the pier in the past, but I come here mainly to people watch. You will often find me sitting on the upper deck of Coconut Joe's overlooking Front Beach and the pier drinking a Corona or an alcoholic concoction. Ice cream stands and shops are nearby on Ocean Blvd.
5) Red's Ice House--Shem Creek--"sitting on the edge of a pier to drink a beer."
Red's Ice House on Shem Creek is a popular restaurant/bar located in Mt. Pleasant. The views from its water-side decks on the boat busy Shem Creek are spectacular, especially around sunset. It attracts a high-energy crowd with only one objective on their mind, fun. It has its own dock where boats can pull in and out throughout the night, a full service bar close to the action inside and out, and an upper deck for the ultimate view of Shem Creek. It also has a dog-friendly policy, which I soon became quite aware of from the slobbery licks on my hand as I walked on the outside decks. I like sitting on the edge of the pier/dock and stick my feet into the water near the Palmetto Breeze. During the day, you will see plenty of paddleboarders and kayakers along with plenty of pelicans and dolphins.