5 short-drive beach trips 

New day, different beach

click to enlarge Kiawah Island's Beachwalker County Park

Ruta Smith

Kiawah Island's Beachwalker County Park

Edisto Island

Roughly an hour away Edisto Beach, a calmer and less-developed area than some of the more crowded Charleston beaches. Edisto Island has plenty to offer for outdoor activity all day, including an oceanfront state park, fishing opportunities, boat tours and plenty of other options. After being outside all day, there are plenty of unique restaurants to visit. The Old Post Office Restaurant, Whaley's and Flower's Seafood Company offer some quick beachside food or sit-down meals.

Botany Bay

While you're on Edisto Island, go check out this historic and natural spot. For those looking for less fun-in-the-sun and more unique sights that only the Lowcountry can produce, Botany Bay is a good choice. Known for the dead trees on the stark coastline (we swear it's pretty), Botany Bay is a habitat for diverse wildlife. When you're done walking on the beach, go check out the maritime forest and freshwater ponds. Botany Bay was home to the Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud plantations, and three historic buildings from the mid-1800s still stand.

Beachwalker County Park

Need a more traditional beach-going experience? Head over to Beachwalker County Park on Kiawah Island for a stroll on their boardwalk, grab a bite to eat at a snack bar and take a step into the ocean. While you're soaking in the sun and surf, you can see the barrier islands and palmetto trees that accent the Lowcountry coast. Freshfields Village gives travellers a chance to shop before they get to the beach. Right outside of Beachwalker County Park are plenty of dining options for the drive in and out of Kiawah. Loggerhead Grill will fix your American food cravings, while Cantina 76 is right in Freshfields Village for a quick taco after the beach.

Pawleys Island

If you're willing to travel a little further, Pawleys Island is another unique beach community to visit. Dubbed the "oldest summer resort on the East Coast," the small beach town provides plenty of opportunities for surfing and sunbathing. Those ready to fish and kayak can head over to the nearby rivers before heading back to soak in the saltwater on the beach. Just like many towns next to the water, Pawleys has seafood and drinks galore at restaurants and taverns all around town without having to venture into Myrtle.

Hunting Island

And if you're willing to travel even further, about two hours, Hunting Island may be your best bet. One of the most popular state parks, this area provides 5 miles of South Carolina coastline, thousands of acres of marshland and the only lighthouse in the state that is open to the public. If there's too much to do in one day, bring a tent and some camping gear because Hunting Island has roughly 100 campsites. Just make sure you reserve one a couple days in advance. —Heath Ellison

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