Separated from the mainland by saltmarsh and nicknamed “arrogantly shabby”, Pawley’s Island is one of South Carolina’s little secrets—literally. The barrier island is less than 4 miles long, and for the most part only one house wide. But it is one of the East Coast’s oldest summer resorts, and for good reason. It was settled in the early 1700s by the families of rice planters who would flock to the island around May and stay for the summer; they knew that living by the rivers (where their plantations were) was not healthy in the summer heat. Since, the island has had a way of drawing people to it, making them want to be a part of the carefree, laidback lifestyle it offers.
Parts of the island have not changed since the 1700s, and there are 12 original residences remaining in the historic district. These date back to the late 1700s and mid-1800s. If you wander through the district you’ll notice signs in front of these homes briefly telling the history of these antebellum homes. What makes these homes even more special is the fact that they are still owned by third, fourth, and even fifth generations of the same family. In fact, in 2012, Liberty Lodge celebrated 100 years of ownership by a single family. You can find most of the homes available for summer rentals.
Despite Pawley’s Island’s size, there are still plenty of things to do. The beach is renowned for it’s surf, so catch a wave or two during your visit. With a fine selection of world-class golf courses within close proximity to the island, you’ll be able to hone your golf game. Just a short 12 miles north is historic Georgetown, the third oldest seaport in the country. Here you can find all kinds of dining, shopping, boating, fishing, historic tours and ghost tours. Front Street is teeming with delicious restaurants for whatever dining mood you’re in. Be it Italian dishes, fresh seafood, or Lowcountry cuisine, you’ll find it in Georgetown. Pop into one of the boutiques for some unique finds; there are no chain stores in the town, almost every business is owned and operated by locals.
Big cities aren’t far from this island retreat, either. Seventy miles north of the island is historic Charleston, and 25 miles south will find you in Myrtle Beach. You’ll find no shortage of entertainment in either of these cities, and you can enjoy the luxuries of large city life, but come home to the quaintness of the island.
Pawley’s Island may be small, but it’s big in adventure, full of history, and waiting for you to discover the peaceful lifestyle of life on the beach, in a rope hammock, listening to the tales of the island’s past drift through the ocean breeze.