Located just thirty minutes from Charleston, South Carolina, the Isle of Palms is the perfect getaway. The island is a mere 6.5 miles long, but its small size does not hinder it from being one of the most beautiful places on the Atlantic Coast. The Isle of Palms is packed with everything a family vacation needs: two beautiful golf courses, sandy beaches, and a community that welcomes all visitors.
My grandparents purchased a condo on the island twenty-three years ago. The house lies on the Links Golf Course’s fifteenth hole, and has been my second home since I was under a year old.
When I reflect on my many trips to the Isle of Palms, I will usually think of food first. While I only go once a year for ten days, the Charleston/Isle of Palms/Sullivan’s Islands area is home to my favorite restaurants. My absolute favorite is Poe’s Tavern, an Edgar Allen Poe-themed restaurant that is home to the best burgers and fish tacos imaginable. Poe’s website states that they have “something for everyone: We’re chill, pumped, and fun all mixed together,” a sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with. I love this restaurant so much that my family takes two trips during our vacation: one trip to order fish tacos and the other to devour the famous burger. Poe’s Tavern has such good burgers that while consuming one you forget about the substantial amount of Edgar Allen Poe pictures on the wall, staring at you.
Another restaurant located on the coast of the island, The Boathouse, is home to the most divine seafood in the area. While the food may be a tad pricier than Poe’s, it is definitely worth it. I would recommend the “Crispy Fried Calamari” as a starter and the “Boathouse Crab Cakes” for an entree. Both remind me, as a Richmonder, what exceptional seafood truly is. Not only is the food amazing, but just outside the windows of the restaurant lies a view of the sound and Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge that wows visitors at any time of the day. If you are lucky, you might even catch sight of a few dolphin swimming.
The Isle of Palms is not only adored for its impeccable food; the island provides many family-friendly activities for a trip devoid of boredom. Wild Dunes Resort takes up a little over half of the land on the island. It is a community that offers movie nights, bingo nights, tie-dyeing and so much more for families with young children.
Located within the resort are two golf courses, The Links and The Harbor. My father, local business owner Andy Jacobs, describes the courses as “The links is based on links golf courses in Europe, and has a couple of holes on the Atlantic Ocean. The Harbor plays on the Intracoastal Waterway, in and around the harbor.” While golf is not something I usually enjoy, I love riding along on these beautiful courses while my dad and brother play a few holes.
Wild Dunes is home to four pools open to any visitors, as well as many neighborhood pools for homeowners and Airbnb renters. The resort also has two hotels, bike paths, tennis courts, two workout facilities, and a spa.
While many visitors to the island are tourists, there is a substantial amount of full-time residents. Having visited the island in both the summer and winter, I can understand the appeal of wanting to stay during the off-season. The cold weather does not take away from the allure of the island, and the lack of crowds makes for a more serene trip.
Another great feature of the island is the Isle of Palms Marina, where you can rent a boat and ride around the Charleston Harbor and to other neighboring islands. While on the water, be careful to recognize the tides and sandbars. My father has managed to get my family stuck two out of the four years we have done this. Nevertheless, the kind employees of the marina seem to always help him back, a prime example that southern hospitality that the Charleston area is so famous for.
I believe the most popular component of the island are the delightful beaches. While some have been fighting erosion for quite some time, they still stand as exquisite as when I first saw them. Many sea turtles choose to lay their eggs in nests in the soft Isle of Palms sand. It is nearly impossible to go for a walk on the beach without passing a few. There is even a designated Isle of Palms “Turtle Team” to update visitors about the current whereabouts of South Carolina turtles. My own mother, Collegiate Middle School front desk guru Elisabeth Jacobs, can not wait to retire and become a part of this elite team of turtle lovers.
The Isle of Palms is, without a doubt, a fantastic place to vacation on the East Coast. I am so lucky to have known the island and Wild Dunes Resort since I was a few months old. The upbeat and peaceful atmosphere of the island sets the Isle of Palms apart from any other beach on the East Coast.
Photos by Olivia Jacobs unless otherwise noted.