Located roughly nine miles southeast of downtown Charleston, Sullivan’s Island is a petite coastal town that’s about as charming as it gets. With wide beach boardwalks winding through an intact maritime forest, a pristine 3.3-mile strip of Atlantic shoreline, loads of charming real estate (including a mix of centuries-old bungalows and more modern coastal homes), and a small but mighty food-and-bev scene, it has all the makings of a memorable vacation … or truly blissful year-round living. Read on for more about this quaint corner of the Lowcountry.
WHO LIVES HERE: While rentals are available for beach-going vacationers, the island has a top-notch school zone, handful of delicious eateries, and convenient proximity to both Mount Pleasant (located just across the Intracoastal Waterway from the island) and downtown Charleston (a roughly 15-minute drive)—all of which make it a highly appealing area for longterm dwelling. Year-round and part-time residents include active, water-loving families and retirees seeking the slow pace of beach living with easy access to on-island restaurants and to the culture of downtown. Homes range from well preserved bungalows built throughout the 20th century to new builds that are the epitome of luxurious coastal living.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK Lowcountry locals know: Sullivan’s Island’s culinary scene—which is concentrated on Middle Street between Stations 20 ½ and 22 ½—is one of the best of the nearby beaches. For unforgettable burgers and alfresco cocktails and beer, visit Poe’s Tavern, named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, who was stationed at Sullivan’s Fort Moultrie starting in 1827 (in fact, his short story “The Gold-Bug” was inspired by his time spent on the barrier island). For savory barbecue, walk across the street to Home Team BBQ, and don’t leave without sipping a Game Changer, their locally famous frozen rum cocktail. Mex 1 Coastal Cantina is our favorite for margaritas and Mexican food, and for upscale pastas, pizzas, salads, and seafood, make a reservation at The Obstinate Daughter. If you’re in a hurry, run by The Sullivan’s Island Co-Op for yummy grab-and-go breakfast fare, coffee, sandwiches, and salads—plus, froze on tap!
WHAT TO DO Activity-wise, Sullivan’s has something for everyone. There’s the obvious way to pass the day: setting up camp on the beautiful beach. One of our most-visited stations (or beach boardwalks) is 18 ½, which puts you right beneath the picturesque black-and-white striped lighthouse. Bring your beach cruiser to ride up and down the shoreline, or your paddleboard; more so than other local beaches, Sullivan’s surf is quite mild, making it a good fit for SUPers and open-water swimmers. For outdoor family fun with a bit more shade, head to Sullivan’s Island Town Park. And for a history lesson, visit Fort Moultrie, where, in 1776, a fort made of spongy palmetto trees and sand fended off cannon fire from British ships. Finally, for retail therapy, visit Goldbug, a sweet shop located on Middle Street. Our go-to activities on the island? Walking our pups on the beach before work or packing a picnic and watching the sunset from the sand.