The Quaint Little Beach Town of Edisto, SC

July 10, 2024

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I'm Heather, an Old House Lover, DIY Addict, Gardener Wannabe, and Crazy Dog Lady. I have renovated historic houses for over 20 years now with an emphasize on preservation over a quick flip. Now, I take great joy in teaching others the ins and outs of the renovation world.

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Our family had the chance to vacation together the week of the July 4th at the quaint beach town of Edisto, SC. We’ve vacationed here several times over the years and I love the small town feel this island offers.

If you’re looking for a vacation spot that has a beautiful beach with stunning views of the sunrise and sunset, and a slow, relaxing pace, this is a somewhere you’ll want to consider visiting.

Where to Stay

Rent a House or Camp at Edisto Beach State Park

One of the things I love most about this beach is that there are no hotels. That means you’ll either need to rent a house or camp at the Edisto Beach State Park. We’ve had the opportunity to be treated to beach front homes and there’s nothing quite like walking out from your home away from home and directly onto the beach. If you can’t find a beach front home, there are plenty of homes close by just a street or two back so your walk to the beach will be short. It’s a small island so really any home is close to the beach.

Primary Beach, The Point, and The Sound

The beach is essentially split into three areas. The primary beach starts at the pier and runs up until the shoreline starts to curve towards the right. I would say this is the beach access for the majority of beach goers and has the best waves. The point is essentially where the shoreline curves around to the sound. This year we stayed at the point for the first time and I would say it’s my favorite. And last but not least, the sound is the beach that leads towards the river so it’s a little calmer which is great for small kids. We’ve stayed at all three locations over the years and love them all, so you really can’t go wrong.

The Beach

We all spend our time on the beach in different ways, even within my family. Our ages range from 13 to 81 and the ‘kids who aren’t all kids anymore’ ages are 13 to 23.

Some love to fish, others are in and out of the water, many of us sit under the tent or by the water all day, and most will play some sort of game over the week. Here a some of our beach essentials plus a few more recommendations for your days in the sun.

Beach Essentials

10×10 Canopy Tent
Shibumi Shade
Tommy Bahama Beach Chair
Ostrich On Your Back Backpack Beach Chair with Face Hole
Beach Umbrella with Sand Anchor
YETI Tundra 35 Cooler
RTIC Soft Cooler
Waterproof Portable Speaker
Spike Ball Game Set
Cornhole Board Set
Inflatable Swim Tube
Float Recliner
Sandproof Beach Blanket

Sunrise and Sunset

On almost every beach trip I take, I make it a point to get up really early one morning to watch the sunrise and then one evening to watch the sunset. And Edisto Beach never disappoints. To catch the best view of the sunrise you’ll need to be on the primary beach or the point.

Then at the end of the day, head around to the sound to catch the stunning sunset.

Dogs On the Beach

While I haven’t been able to bring Sampson with me (yet) I did want to mention that Edisto is a very dog friendly beach. We saw all sorts of dogs on the beach and around the island all week long. Just be sure to keep them leashed from Memorial Day to Labor Day and clean up after them but definitely bring them because they are welcomed!

Sea Creatures & Wildlife

It’s worth mentioning some of the sea creatures and wildlife you’re likely to encounter at Edisto. First are the shake’s teeth which seem to be in abundance. My sister has found more shark’s teeth than anyone I know and can spot them like nothing you’ve seen. As for me, I have found one and it was the smallest you’ve ever seen so it was both my first and last.

Second are the deer. There is a walking path behind the houses one row back from the sound and in the mornings running into a deer or two is pretty common. I ran into four this last trip while walking the trail.

And third and most notable are the loggerhead turtles nests and the protection of them. They have a team of volunteers dedicated to finding and protecting the nests once the eggs have been laid and then helping the hatchlings get to the sea. If you’re at the beach during the summer you’ll see the nests marked off with hot pink tape and if you time it just right, usually mid to late July, you can watch some of the little hatchlings as they head to see late at night. Check out the Edisto Beach Loggerhead Turtle Project for all the details because it’s a neat experience to get to watch the baby turtles hatch.

Things to Do Around the Island

4th of July Festivities

This was our first year at Edisto for the 4th of July and when we were told there would be a parade of golf carts, we had to go and check it out. And it was pretty funny and charming. It’s exactly what you would think of for a small town celebration with a grand marshal, decorated gold carts in red, white, and blue, and a few dogs in the mix. Later in the evening at the marina they had activities followed by a fireworks show so all in all I would say their 4th of July festivities were that of a quintessential small beach town.

If You Like to Venture Out

In full disclosure, I prefer to do as little as possible during my vacation. I typically go from the house to the beach and back, and occasionally to the one grocery store on the island, only out of necessity. And I would also say that if you like to be on the go and constantly have activities to do, this might not be the place for you.

However, if you need something to do on a rainy day or find yourself wanting to change things up for a day or two, here are some options.

Botany Bay

If you only have time for one adventure, this is it.

The Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management sums it up best…

With more than 4,600 acres of maritime forest, beach, freshwater ponds, and historical buildings on the property, Botany Bay offers a little something for everyone. The area is one of the most unique destinations on Edisto Island. This working plantation opened to the public in 2008 and became a favorite among locals and visitors overnight.

This unique area is located on the left just before you head into the heart of the island. You’ll drive under Spanish moss that drapes the trees creating a picturesque scene. Once you park you’ll walk about a half mile through the marsh to undisturbed beaches with countless shells and fallen trees known as “Boneyard Beach”. It’s a really neat experience that I highly recommend making the time for at least once.

If the walk to the beach hasn’t worn you out, you love history, and you have on your walking shoes, consider walking around the ruins of the plantation too. I love history and trying to envision what the houses might have looked like back in their day and I’ve walked this loop twice. It’ll take a couple of hours and I believe is about 4-5 miles so if you’re not up for the walk, you can also drive around the loop.

Restaurants and Shops

There are a handful of stores sprinkled around the island including a few right as you enter the island, behind the grocery store.

As for restaurants, there’s a small variety of those too. Whaley’s is an island staple and has been around since 1948 offering seafood, hamburgers, and a variety of other options. There are two seafood restaurants near the marina and a local watering hole on the pier that offers karaoke if that’s your thing.

Our family always makes it a tradition to eat breakfast on our way out at the Sea Cow. There are also a couple of shops right beside it to grab an Edisto t-shirt or hat to take home with you.

Serpentarium & Edisto Island Museum

While I’ve only visited each of these once, I thought it was worth mentioning especially if you have a rainy day and need something to do. Years ago we visited the Serpentarium – you know, snakes and other creepy creatures, so if you have curious kids, head there. Every time I hear that word I can’t help but to go and watch the video of comedian Nate Bergatze and his experience at one in Wilmington, NC. It’s worth the watch.

But if you’re not into snakes but love history, visit the Edisto Island Museum. It’s a short and sweet visit where you’ll learn a lot about the Edisto’s history or you can grab a couple of history books from the bookstore like I did.

I’d love to know if you’ve visited Edisto Beach and if so, what’s your favorite thing to do! And if you haven’t visited yet, have I convinced you to add this quaint little beach town to your bucket list? I sure hope so because it’s definitely worth the trip!

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