Beachin': Pawleys Island

Summer days on this four-mile-long island feel like a trip back in time with wicker rocking chair-filled front porches and locally made hammocks swaying in the ocean breeze. Charmingly shabby beach cottages are mixed with newer beachfront mansions, with many of the homes on the narrow island looking over the broad beaches and sea on one side and the marsh on the other. Mornings find the water thick with surfers around the island’s ocean pier, and visitors and locals alike pour out of their homes in the evenings for stunning sunset views over the tidal marsh. For those seeking a laid-back destination that’s low on pretension and high on relaxation, Pawleys is the perfect place to unwind.  —S. C.

Stay Here: At the eight-room Pelican Inn, guests can enjoy Lowcountry dishes served for breakfast and lunch in the historic beachside inn. Hammocks and rocking chairs offer the perfect spots for soaking in the slow-paced island life, while a private dock beckons those hoping to catch fiddler crabs from the murky marsh. 843-325-7522, Photo: Courtesy


What’s New:
For years Pawleys offered limited options for those with more refined culinary tastes, but Chive Blossom Café which opened in 2010, offers a sophisticated wine list, elegant dishes, a chic atmosphere, and a She Crab soup so creamy you’ll be tempted to lick the bottom of your bowl. 843-237-1438,

Stay a While:
If you’re hoping to stay longer than a few days or bring the whole family, consider renting a charming home. At Pawleys Island Realty you can choose from rustic cottages as well as sleek, modern options. 843-237-4257,

Where the Locals Eat:
Go early to nab a table at the long-time Pawley’s favorite, The Island Cafe and Deli, where locals crowd in each night for thick crab cakes, crispy fried oysters, and fried flounder over grits. 843-237-9527,

Where to Drink:
Nosh, located in the island’s famed Hammock Shops, features a deck with colorful seats, oversize fans, and frequent live music. Order an icy mojito—the bartender’s specialty—and share appetizers like a spinach and crab spread made with fresh spinach and local lump crab meat. 843-314-9014,

Where to Shop:
No trip to Pawleys is complete without a stop at The Hammock Shops, nestled under drooping live oaks and among brightly colored azaleas. At the Original Hammock Shop pick up your beach reading, grab a bite of the mouthwatering homemade fudge, or purchase one of the famous rope hammocks to bring home a relaxing memory of the island.

For the Kids:
If sandcastles and surfing have begun to lose their appeal, stop in at Pawleys Island Beach Service, which has rental bicycles in sizes for whole family. 843-237-4666,

For the Adults:
Just south of Pawleys is historic Georgetown ( Take an evening stroll on the waterfront boardwalk before grabbing a bite at one of the many riverside restaurants and bars.

Tell a Ghost Story:
Like many places in the Lowcountry, Pawleys has its fair share of ghost stories. One of the most popular tales is that of Alice Flagg, a young woman who is said to still be seeking a ring taken from her. Flagg’s grave can be found in the cemetery of All Saint’s Parish Church in Pawleys and is a popular stop for those intrigued by her tale.