If the idea of a beach vacation in the Carolinas appeals to you, but you’re not keen on a crowded and highly active destination like Myrtle Beach or the Outer Banks, consider Pawleys Island. This region is recognized as one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast. Located 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island has a lot of southern charm to offer, along with an assortment of vacation rentals, golf courses, boutique shopping, a beautiful stretch of beach, and gorgeous views. And the laid-back lifestyle is perfectly suited to visitors seeking a relaxed holiday.
Given that Pawleys is so different, with no commercial properties on the island itself, don’t expect to find the kind of high-rise hotels and multi-amenity resorts that line the beaches of nearby Myrtle Beach. Instead, most of the accommodations here are residential homes that are available for weekly rentals. As a matter of fact, there are 300+ private residences to choose from, some of which are large enough to accommodate very large or extended families. One such property is Spyglass with 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, and a sleeping capacity of 12 people.
If a residence doesn’t appeal to you, there are two small retro lodgings to choose from including Pelican Inn, which dates back to the late 1850s, and Sea View Inn, which opened to the public in 1937. Both these bed and breakfast-like accommodations are modest and quite small, with Pelican Inn containing 8 guest rooms and Sea View with 20.
And then there is the far more modern condo community of Pawleys Pier Village featuring 9 luxury buildings of 2 and 3 bedroom units complete with wi-fi. This rental neighborhood is right on the ocean with a 780-foot fishing pier exclusive to condo owners and guests. Rentals are on a weekly basis, as are most of the residences in the area. The time frame usually encompasses Saturday to Saturday, with special rates offered during off-peak season. If Pawleys Island is to be your summer destination, it is recommended to make your reservations months in advance. Click HERE for more information.
If you are hoping for more of a resort atmosphere, try Bridgewater, a 5-story property of one and two-bedroom vacation rental suites. Amenities include an oceanfront pool and a lazy river ride, a health club, lighted tennis courts, and one mile of private access to the beach.
There are numerous dining options available just over the causeway if you are seeking international cuisine or the kind of chain restaurants you’re used to seeing most everywhere. And many of these will deliver to the island if you would rather not go out. However, if you would prefer to remain on the island, there are a few notable restaurants worth trying, starting with Austin’s, which is actually like two restaurants in one — the upscale Ocean One for local seafood and hand-cut steaks, as well as the Cabana Café for cool cocktails and pub fare like chicken strips, crab cakes, and fish tacos. Chive Blossom Cafe is also excellent if you like southern cooking and lobster bisque, and Frank’s is a must-try for steaks and seafood, uniquely located in an old house.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, do not miss bisQit located at The Hammock Shops. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, their menu features soups and salads, sandwiches, and burgers. All of these have a unique twist on ingredients — for example, their BLT includes bacon, ‘lobster’, and tomato; and pork sandwiches are braised with root beer. Also located at The Hammock Shops is the Local, with an interesting cocktail list and a brunch menu that includes chicken and waffles as well as huevos rancheros. Short ribs, crab cakes, blackened grouper, and duck confit can be found on the ‘Supper’ menu.
Among the biggest draws to Pawleys Island are the spectacular golf courses in the region, three of which have earned a spot among Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. Recommended courses to try are as follows:
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, which was once a rice plantation and is arguably the most scenic.
Founders Club featuring waste bunkers that run alongside virtually every fairway.
Heritage Club with a layout that offers the area’s largest rolling greens.
Litchfield Country Club promotes a traditional design and has received 4.5 stars from Golf Digest.
Pawleys Plantation is a Jack Nicklaus design with the back nine holes playing alongside the marsh area.
River Club is aptly named with 15 of its 18 holes near water.
The Reserve Golf Club highlights a 350-acre Greg Norman design.
Tradition Club, a course that was also a plantation centuries ago and offers a challenging game.
True Blue, a club that emphasizes vast fairways, undulating greens, and exciting elevation changes.
Click HERE for more information.
If shopping is your thing, Pawleys Island is home to several exclusive shopping centers that offer apparel, housewares, and unique art. The most well-known is the Original Pawleys Island Hammock Shops, which is home to the infamous rope hammock that is widely seen across the region. There is also the Hammock Shops Village containing the restaurants we spoke about above, plus more than 20 specialty boutique shops. If you are familiar with the Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, this retail property is smaller but very similar in nature.
Of course, there are plenty of other things to do in the area as well, including fishing, crabbing, hunting for shells and shark teeth, kayaking, swimming, and sunbathing. There are also bike and boat rentals on the island, along with numerous deep-sea fishing charters. However, if you are looking for more of a tourist destination or an organized tour, you can opt for a trip to Brookgreen Gardens for a look at their art sculptures, botanical gardens, and Lowcountry Zoo.
A day trip to historic Georgetown or Charleston will yield plenty of southern hospitality with places to see and things to do, including a carriage ride through the streets of Charleston if you are interested in a narrated tour. There are also dolphin adventures and boat tours in the area, including a memorable airboat tour along the Waccamaw River if you venture into Murrels Inlet.
Visitors are never at a loss for things to do in Pawleys Island, or you could just kick back, enjoy the salt air breeze, and relax in one of the area’s famous rope hammocks. #onlypawleys
Lead Photo Source Visit Myrtle Beach