From what I’ve experienced Folly Beach is most well known of all of the Charleston beaches to be the ‘college beach’. This is the typical spot for most college students to go during free time on the weekends, and with that comes great energy, friendly vibes, and lots of people. There are many great ‘beachy’ restaurants nearby (I would highly recommend Taco Boy for anyone that hasn’t gone) to check out for a casual post beach day snack with friends. This beach also has the best waves just based on local geography and how the sand bars break, so it’s the best location for surfing of most spots in Charleston. (I highly recommend taking surf lessons if you never have before, they offer group lessons or solo private lessons during various times depending on the level of commitment that you want, all of my instructors were great and I was a novice going in).
With the wave attraction also comes the highest volume of tourists. There is a larger complex at the end of Folly Road where unknowing tourists tend to appear and swarm around the long pier still under construction. Given the nearby marshes and the fact that Folly Beach isn’t fully connected to the mainland, there is only one road in and out (that gets down to one lane in some areas) so just be sure to factor a bit of traffic into your travels when exploring. If you’re looking for a chiller experience along the same beach I recommend branching out away from the immediate public parking spaces and cruising a little further down East Ashley Avenue. I was recently exposed to the quieter side streets leading to the beach (anything past 9th street) with free side parking and far fewer people. The beaches are pet friendly with a strict no open alcohol policy – be wary of the men on dune carts – and surf life isn’t nearly as cutthroat as California or other popular surfing states.
The beaches are normally full of seashells in the early morning, the tide rises and falls pretty drastically throughout the day and I have never experienced a bad sunset on Folly Beach – highly recommend. The water temperature obviously follows the seasons (much warmer in the late summer months than others) and it’s known for its active local sea life. I can count more occasions when I’ve been to the beach and seen a local pod of dolphins than when I haven’t. If I haven’t convinced you enough you should go check it out for yourself, Folly is a great place for a study break, a trip with visiting family, or a spot to try new activities.