Waterfront in a Harbor Town: Charleston's Best Beach Hotels

Charleston, South Carolina is a harbor town, and while most hotels on the peninsula offer breathtaking views of the Charleston harbor, beachfront hotels are only found outside city limits. Luckily, beaches aren't heard to come by in the Charleston area, and it's quite common for visitors to stay off-peninsula at Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, or on Shem Creek, (close to Sullivan's Island).

Couples and families staying at beach or waterfront hotels are able to enjoy sunny days at the beach while also venturing into Charleston's historic downtown for shopping, dining, and nightlife. Most Charleston beach hotels are just 15-20 minutes from downtown, though heavy traffic is common during peak season.

Travelers looking for a casual, tranquil setting will enjoy The Palms Hotel or Seaside Inn on Isle of Palms. Others looking for an all-inclusive IOP experience should head to Wild Dunes Resort, with two 4 Diamond hotels, vacation condo rentals, golf, and tennis facilities.

Sullivan's Island doesn't allow any beach hotels, but island lovers can stay on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, a 5-10 minutes' drive from the beach. The picture perfect views from Shem Creek Inn make up for the short commute. Want a beach all to yourself? You'll come close with a stay at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina–the resort offers a private beach for guests.

Folly Beach offers several family-friendly lodging options for beachgoers. The Tides is a budget friendly but high quality choice, while the Regatta Inn offers a bed and breakfast-style alternative nearby. 



The casual, comfortable accommodations at Ocean Inn are styled to be more like apartments than the rooms of a hotel. For that reason, Ocean Inn makes for a preferable Isle of Palms lodging choice for those travelers staying on the island for an...  Read More



This dreamy Folly Beach bungalow just might bring your romantic dream vacation to life. Book a room at the Beachside Boutique Inn, styled with a 'funky Folly' flair, to enjoy gorgeous wood interiors, cozy, comfortable accommodations, and...  Read More



Just a 15 minute drive from historic downtown Charleston, Seaside Inn on the Isle of Palms is the ideal beachfront hotel for families on a budget. This oceanfront property boasts a small, rooftop pool and two sundecks, and 50 guestrooms...  Read More

Folly Island


This bed and breakfast-style inn is located just 10 minutes from historic downtown Charleston, and offers "Southern Hospitality with Key West Charm." Water's Edge Inn is a small, bed and breakfast style property located just a few blocks from...  Read More

Mount Pleasant


Boat watching and dolphin watching is a breeze at this family friendly hotel on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. Located just across the Ravenel Bridge 4 miles from downtown Charleston, Shem Creek Inn is also just minutes from the beaches of Isle...  Read More



The pick stucco façade of this Isle of Palms Hotel is almost as inviting as the wide expanse of beachfront just steps from the resort's front door. The Palms IOP offers 60 rooms, all in tropical beach decor, and all including in-room microwaves...  Read More

Folly Beach


A sister property of Water's Edge Inn, also located on Folly Beach, Regatta Inn offers up a luxury venue of bed and breakfast-style accommodations. As the name implies, this beachfront property is styled in the nautical fashion both inside and...  Read More



The Tides Folly Beach is Folly's premier beachfront hotel, newly renovated late 2011, and located just 9 miles from downtown Charleston. Each and every room at Tides is an oceanview room, featuring king or queen bed arrangements and a Juliet...  Read More



At home at Patriot's Point, Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina is just minutes away from historic downtown Charleston. But there's no need to drive! Charleston Harbor Resort offers a complimentary trolley to transport guests between the...  Read More

Wild Dunes Resort By Destination Hotels
Photo courtesy of Shem Creek Inn


Wild Dunes has long been known as one of Charleston's premier lodging destinations, and it is indeed a destination. This family friendly resort on IOP offers vacation homes and condo rentals, including two AAA 4 Diamond properties, as well as...  Read More


Meet Clare Sweeney

A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare is always venturing between traveling abroad and her beloved Lowcountry. 

Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days...  More About Clare