How Far Is Edisto Island From Charleston Out of all the picturesque oceanfront sea islands surrounding Charleston, Edisto Island remains a hidden gem. Perhaps this secrecy owes itself to the misconceptions about its accessibility. When compared to the well-known Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach, Edisto Island may seem a bit farther away. However, the truth is, it’s just a short 45-minute drive from West Ashley. This is roughly equivalent to the drive to Kiawah Beachwalker Park or to Folly Island on a bustling summer day.
The advantage of heading to Edisto Island is the consistently smooth traffic flow. This is likely due to its relative obscurity. While Edisto Beach may appear to be in a world of its own, the reality is that reaching this tranquil destination doesn’t require much more time than other popular spots.
Getting to Edisto Island
Most GPS systems will recommend taking Savannah Highway to Ravenel and then turning left onto Route 165 when heading to Edisto Island. While this route is a viable option, the more scenic and less congested choice is to veer slightly left onto State Route 162 at Nancy’s Exotic Plants, provided there’s no train causing delays. This route not only offers picturesque views but also helps you avoid potential traffic issues further down Route 17.
While on Route 162, you’ll journey through the charming Town of Hollywood until you reach an intersection controlled by a blinking light, which marks Route 174. Take a left here, and the next time you make a turn will be when you arrive at the ocean.
This segment of Route 174 is the renowned Edisto Island National Scenic Byway. Shortly after the turn, you’ll pass through a corridor of live oaks and other ancient trees, with natural dwarf palmettos thriving beneath. As you proceed, you’ll reach a bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The bridge treats you to breathtaking Lowcountry vistas in every direction, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Notable Stops Along the Way
While many day trippers to Edisto Island head straight to the beach, there are appealing stops to consider along your route.
First up is Marsh Hen Mill, located on the right just beyond the bridge. Here, you can grab a cup of coffee if you’re running low, or explore the shop for genuine Lowcountry grits or an early souvenir for your day.
A few minutes down the road, you’ll encounter King’s Market. Although popular among locals, this shop remains one of Charleston’s best-kept secrets. While the shop offers locally grown produce, for a beach day, you might lean towards pralines, fudge, or one of King’s Market’s renowned key lime pies.
Continuing on, about 10 minutes later, you’ll spot a hand-painted sign on the left for George & Pink’s. While George & Pink’s is tucked away from the beaten path, a brief detour down the rugged Edingsville Beach Road is well worth the effort. George & Pink’s also specializes in fresh produce, but you’ll also find local favorites like Cheerwine to accompany you to the beach.
If you’ve forgotten your book at home, there’s one more stop before reaching your ultimate destination. The Edisto Island Bookstore is a quaint local bookstore managed by Edisto Islanders. While the front of the store showcases books by local authors, you can also find bestsellers and children’s books.
Parking at Edisto Beach
Finding parking at Edisto Beach is generally hassle-free. The layout is reminiscent of Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island, with oceanfront parking lots every block, totaling 37 parking areas in all. If one lot happens to be full, simply continue to the next one; you’re likely to secure a spot before long.
According to the Town of Edisto Beach website, parking is permitted from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm and is monitored by the local police department. So, ensure you don’t linger too late. Be mindful to avoid parking at the pier unless you’re shopping or having a meal, as these spots are reserved for customers.
Restaurants, Rentals & More
When it comes to dining, Edisto Island offers several options. Coot’s Bar & Grill, located on the pier, serves up traditional beach cuisine with oceanfront views. Jungle Road boasts several dining choices, including seafood, pizza, burgers, and more. Time-honored favorites on the island include The SeaCow Eatery, Waterfront Restaurant, and McConkey’s Jungle Shack.
If you continue south towards the tip of Edisto Island, you’ll find additional restaurants such as Pressley’s at the Marina and Dockside Restaurant & Bar. Should you plan to stay on the island for dinner, Ella & Ollie’s provides unique twists on Lowcountry classics, along with other menu selections, in an upscale setting. For dessert, indulge in ice cream at Pelicans Pizza & Ice Cream on the pier or at the ice cream shop at 117 Jungle Road.
For those interested in renting bicycles, the loop around Edisto Beach spans approximately eight miles, and the island also features a dedicated off-road bike path. Kayak rentals are available at The Marina at Edisto Beach, situated at 3702 Docksite Road. From there, you can launch into Big Bay Creek, heading either east up the creek or west toward the South Edisto River.
Things to Do at Edisto Beach
When planning your day trip to Edisto Beach, you have the freedom to do as much or as little as you desire. Whether you opt for a day of beachfront relaxation with intermittent lunch breaks or engage in hiking, biking, kayaking, or all of the above, Edisto Beach offers numerous activities:
- Botany Bay: Known for its unique “boneyard beach,” Botany Bay is a distinctive area on Edisto Island. Accessible only from the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area’s parking lot during low tide, this beach is adorned with sun-bleached tree remnants. It has even made appearances in movies and TV shows, including Netflix’s Outer Banks. For photography enthusiasts, it presents stunning opportunities.
- Edisto Beach State Park Trails: Ideal for day-trippers, Edisto Beach State Park offers shaded trails that wind through the natural landscape. Along the way, you’ll enjoy various views of Big Bay Creek.
- Kayak Rentals: Renting a kayak and exploring Big Bay Creek provides a unique perspective on Edisto Island. As you venture along the creek, you’ll transition from houses to the wilderness of Edisto Beach State Park, momentarily forgetting how close you are to civilization. If you choose to explore further toward the South Edisto River, you’ll be rewarded with a view of Otter Island, though be aware that you’ll be in open water if you go too far.
- Beach Relaxation: Whether you wish to bask in the sun all day or unwind on the beach in the afternoon after kayaking or biking, Edisto Beach offers a relatively uncrowded experience compared to more popular Charleston-area beaches. For maximum space, head toward the island’s southern end.
- Shopping for Souvenirs: The pier’s shop offers traditional beach souvenirs, while 117 Jungle Road hosts a couple of shops. The Edisto Island Bookstore carries mugs, maps, and other gifts.
Sample Itinerary: A Day Trip to Edisto Island
Begin your day early to witness the sunrise while crossing the Intracoast