Located directly adjacent to Sullivan’s Island, about 40 minutes away from Charleston, Isle of Palms is the perfect island for some much-needed R&R. “IOP,” as it’s commonly referred to, is a mixed bag. On one end of the island, you’ll find a beach scene akin to the Jersey Shore: rowdy beach volleyball players, a lively music venue, and some dodgy, over a few choice spots for fried seafood (who doesn’t love coconut shrimp!?). Otherwise, you’ll find mansion-lined stretches of beach, including some spots favored by Charleston’s vibrant kite boarding community. Even further down, past the Wild Dunes resort, you’ll hit the Isle of Palms Marina, your one-stop-shop for chartering a fishing boat, taking an eco-tour, or climbing aboard a ferry and touring the barrier islands.
Activities on Isle of Palms:
Take an eco-tour of the Isle of Palms and the surrounding barrier islands. Like other islands on the East Coast, sea turtles tend to frequently nest on the IOP, so be sure to check for nest excavation times on the web for a chance to see a sea turtle hatchling. The best time to see these excavations is during late spring up until mid-to-late August.
Check out Boneyard Beach, located a short distance away on Bulls Island. The beach is known for the driftwood and trees that have made their home in the ocean tide. It’s recommended to take the ferry over, but there are also tour companies that can get you there. Bulls Island is also home to numerous hiking trails, a beach for shelling and an area called Alligator Alley where visitors have a high chance of seeing a gator in its natural habitat (and not in “The Swamp” at Gainesville).
Rent a bike and explore the island via beaches and inside roads that will lead you by charming Southern homes.
Spend a day (or two or three) soaking up the sun on Isle of Palms. There’s no real “wrong” way to enjoy the many beach accesses the island offers.
Charter a boat to enjoy all of the fishing opportunities that Isle of Palms has to offer. Many charters give the choice of inshore, offshore and deep fishing excursions.
For a fun game of iSpy and a vacation memory that will last a lifetime, purchase an engraved brick before your visit to the Isle of Palms.
Best Breakfast on Isle of Palms: Acme Lowcountry Kitchen- If a bowl of sauteed shrimp, fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese grits sound like they would be right up your alley, Acme is the place for you. Other takes on classic Southern breakfast options include biscuits and gravy, short ribs and grits or a Carolina lump crab omelet. For those of you that aren’t really early-risers, check out Acme’s mouth-watering brunch menu that’s sure to please any IOP visitor or local.
Best Lunch on Isle of Palms: Long Island Cafe- For all the seafood lovers out there, look no further than the Long Island Cafe. With tasty items like a crab melt, salmon BLT, jumbo lump crab cakes and plenty of delicious sides, this meal is likely to tide you over for the next couple hours while you hit the beach. Reservations come highly recommended, so plan this trip accordingly.
Best Dinner on Isle of Palms: Coda del Pesce - One of the original sweethearts of the Charleston dining scene, Chef Ken Vedrinski opened his second restaurant on IOP in 2013 (his first is Trattoria Lucca, located on Bogard street downtown) and has been dishing out elevated italian-style seafood fare ever since.
The grill at the Marina Market has the best lunch food. You can also pick up beach essentials like sunscreen, and the preferred brands of fishing/boating gear from all the charter captains who call the marina homebase.
Dogs on Isle of Palms - Dogs are allowed on the beach during certain times/seasons, however you will need to purchase a permit in advance.
Rules and regulations for Isle of Palms: https://www.iop.net/beach-rules