Kiteboarding is big on Sullivan’s Island
What really defines the East Coast? To many, it’s the hauntingly beautiful Appalachian mountains, stretching all the way up to Maine. To some, it’s the diversity of the people who live there and the unique spaces they create. Others will say it’s the view of the Atlantic Ocean. And if we’re talking about ocean views, one can argue that the view from North Carolina’s own Sullivan’s Island is one of the most beautiful across the Eastern Seaboard.
With a length of 2.5 miles and a total land area of 3.3 square miles, Sullivan’s Island is a barrier island at the entrance of Charleston harbor. It’s where 2,000 people call home. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, award-winning restaurants, and peaceful and close-knit community. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the island’s small-town vibe and laidback lifestyle where they can enjoy water sports, visit historical sites, and have a good time.
Sullivan’s Island’s rich history dates back to the 16th century. The town has erected several monuments commemorating its role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The famous poet and writer, Edgar Allan Poe, also lived on the island during his time in the army. In fact, the island was the setting for Poe’s celebrated short story, “The Gold Bug.”
With its breathtaking views, strong history, and fun recreational activities, Sullivan’s Island is a place that’s not to be missed. Here, then, is the ultimate guide to Sullivan’s Island for day trippers, travelers, and perhaps, future residents.
Life on Sullivan’s Island: Activities and things to do
Ever heard of the Obstinate Daughter? Thinking of paddleboarding with friends? Want to know more about Fort Moultrie? Here are some of the best things to do on Sullivan’s Island.
Enjoy the beach
On your first trip, one of the first things you should do on Sullivan’s Island is to visit the beach. While quiet during the off-season, spring and summer see people flocking the beaches to enjoy the sun, swim, and do all sorts of fun activities. It’s hard to resist the island’s gorgeous views, clear waters, and pristine beaches with enough room to accommodate everyone comfortably. Herein lies the appeal of Sullivan’s Island: beaches that aren’t overdeveloped or super crowded.
Here, you’ll find plenty of tide pools. And nearby restaurants to grab a quick bite or sit down for a meal. Bring the doggo out for a walk, but secure a permit and keep your furry friend on a leash before noon.
Visit the island’s museums and parks
Parks, museums, and galleries are the heart of every tight-knit community. Sullivan Island’s parks are gathering places for people to socialize and enjoy a wide range of activities from bird watching to taking a morning stroll.
Thompson Park is an interpretive park developed by a local group to preserve the history of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island during the Revolutionary War. Opened in 2011, the park has exhibits that tell the story of Colonel William “Danger” Thompson and the 435 soldiers who defended Fort Sullivan from British attack. The park also has beach views and beach access.
Located on the historic Broad Street, Sandpiper Gallery features an assortment of fine arts and American crafts. Exhibits include glass installations, jewelry, paintings, photography, and sculpture. The Gallery also hosts local special events.
Shop souvenirs and beach wear
What’s a vacation to Sullivan’s Island without fun and unique souvenirs to take home? There are plenty of shops on the island that feature a wide range of beach wear, gear, and souvenirs.
If you’re looking for beach and vacation wear, you can shop at Goldbug, which also specializes in beach accessories and jewelry.
Pick up a pair of cool shades from Shades of Charleston, which also offers its own line of graphic hats. If you want to bring home something local, Adele’s Pottery has you covered. Not only do they have wheel-thrown and hand-built clay items, they also offer pottery classes.
Eat, drink, and be merry
What’s another great thing to do on Sullivan’s Island? Eat! From family-owned restaurants passed down from generation to generation, to pubs and bars and live music venues, there’s a range of choices to be found on the island.
If there’s one restaurant that defines Sullivan’s Island, it’s Home Team BBQ. The joint began as a renovated gas station in 2006 and grew in popularity very quickly. Owner Aaron Siegel then opened up several locations around Charleston and up to Colorado. Home Team BBQ specializes in slow-cooked meats and southern comfort food and also offers barbecue sauces from every part of the country. It also hosts music festivals and live music. With a solid menu, endless bar offerings, and a family-friendly atmosphere, Home Team BBQ is a must-visit on Sullivan’s Island.
The Obstinate Daughter is one of the most famous restaurants on Sullivan’s Island. The place serves southern comfort food and features a menu influenced by Spanish, French, and Italian cooking. The restaurant also partners with local farms and seafood suppliers as well as local breweries and beverage companies to come up with the perfect Sullivan’s Island culinary experience.
Mex 1 is named after the Mexico 1 highway, a stretch of federal highway from Baja, California to Tijuana, Mexico that features plenty of taco shops and surf spots. Here, the menu from the southwest coast is bold and diverse and is sure to satisfy your Mexican food cravings.
Try something fun!
What are other things you should do while on vacation on Sullivan’s Island? Here are a few things you can do for the first time – or indulge in again and again.
- Go paddle boarding and kayaking, two of the most popular watersports on the island. Head to station 26 on the Intracoastal side, locally known as the “Put in,” which is the best place for these activities. You can rent a board or a kayak from Sealand Sports on Middle Street. Parking is limited in that area, so plan ahead.
- Kiteboard at Station 28 ½ is the best spot for this watersport. It’s best to go in mid- to late afternoon on windy days.
- Go ghost crabbing at night. You’ll only need a flashlight, a small net, and a bucket. Use the flashlight to stun the crabs, but some might scamper away. It’s fun, but be gentle with the crabs and release them once you’ve caught them.
- Go fishing. Breach Inlet found in Thomson Park is a popular fishing spot. It’s where water flows in and out of the tidal marshes. The currents are strong but experts say that throwing your bait in the middle of the channel and allowing it to sink may net you a fat flounder. If you’re 16 or older, don’t forget to purchase your fishing license from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Online Customer Service portal.
Take a closer look at these cool places
Itching to explore the unique side of Sullivan’s Island? Here are some attractions and places you need to see:
If we’re talking about unique lighthouses, you have to see the one at Sullivan’s Island. Known as the Charleston Light, the Sullivan Island Lighthouse has a more modern take on what lighthouses should look like. Instead of the usual cylindrical shape, this 140-foot lighthouse is slim and triangular and features a two-toned design.
The unusual lighthouse shaped like an air control tower was built from 1960 to 1962, making it one of the newest lighthouses in the US. The interior is air conditioned and the structure has an elevator to the top observation deck.
The UFO house is a $5 million dome-shaped home located at Station 28 ½. The unique shape was designed to resist hurricanes. Also referred to as“The Star Wars Home” and “The Eye of the Storm,” it has four stories and covers a total area of 4,047 square feet. If you’re going to view the house, please be reminded that it’s private property so approach accordingly.
The Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church was built in 1869 and is one of the oldest standing Catholic Churches in the area. The church was damaged during the Civil War but was completed sometime in 1877. The church is still active today and conducts religious education classes for all ages, as well as daily masses, marriages, and baptisms. The church also operates a private elementary school.
Were you captivated by “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”? If so, visiting the Edgar Allan Poe Library on Sullivan’s Island is a must. The library building is a renovated four-gun battery that was used during the Spanish-American War. Before moving to its present-day location, the library was located in an elementary school and a township building.
It was named after the famous poet and author Edgar Allan Poe to commemorate his being stationed on Sullivan’s Island. The library has wifi and public internet and is closed on Sundays.
Tour historical sites
Sullivan’s Island isn’t just a pretty East Coast town, it’s a place steeped in history. If you’re in the area, here are historical sites and beautiful places to visit:
As fortresses built to protect Charleston, Fort Moultrie is one of the top places to visit on Sullivan’s Island. It was originally called Fort Sullivan and became the inspiration for the South Carolina flag.
Fort Moultrie was a series of fortresses designed to protect Charleston. It is now managed by the National Park System and is the only part of the system where it’s possible to trace the entire history of American coastal defense since 1776. The restoration of Fort Moultrie allows visitors to witness portrayals of the major battles the fort was involved in from 1776 to World War II.
Charles Pinckney was one of the Founding Fathers as well as one of the drafters and signers of the US Constitution. He also served as the 37th governor of South Carolina and became a US senator and member of the US House of Representatives.
The site features a part of Pinckney’s plantation that has been preserved, as well as a half-a-mile outdoor trail. You can tour the farmhouse museum or go on their guided tours.
At the corner of Ion and Station 18 to Station 17, the historic Officer’s Row consists of homes built at the turn of the 20th century. It served as accommodations for military officers during the world wars.
Reasons to move in or invest in Sullivan’s Island, SC
One of many homes for sale on Sullivan’s Island
Sullivan’s Island is the perfect getaway for those who want to escape the noise and stress of the city. Aside from all the sights and activities, there are many more reasons to move to or invest in real estate in Sullivan’s Island.
Sullivan’s Island is great place to expand your real estate portfolio
If you’re looking to expand your real estate investment portfolio, buying a vacation home in Sullivan’s Island that you can rent out during the peak season is a good way to build generational wealth. In December 2022, the home prices on the island went up by 41.5% compared to 2021. View the current median sale price of homes on Sullivan’s Island.
Get you dream home on Sullivan’s Island with Shawn M. Pillion, Realtor®
According to Niche.com, Sullivan’s Island ranks in the following categories
- #2 best place to live in the Charleston Area
- #5 best public schools in South Carolina
- #7 best place to retire in South Carolina
Local migration statistics show that the residents who opted to move to Sullivan’s Island came from big cities like Washington, New York, and Chicago.
The community remains tight knit because there are a lot of social activities and things to do with the whole family on Sullivan’s Island. Residents also say that the quality of life on the island is good, and the lack of a nightlife scene may be what makes the island an oasis from the big cities.
Sullivan’s Island is accessible
You can get to Sullivan’s Island in 15-20 minutes from the Charleston peninsula. There are two points of access to the island. One is through Mt. Pleasant via Highway 703 and the Ben Sawyer Bridge. Come early if you want to secure parking during the peak seasons of spring and summer. Do the same if you want to avoid traffic – it’s best to be at the beach before 10 a.m.
If you want to ride your bike, we have good news because the island is at the intersection of two major bicycle pathways. The first one is the local trail called Battery 2 Breach (B2B), which comprises 32 miles of mixed-use paths. The second bike trail is the East Coast Greenway, a national bike trail with over 2,600 miles of multi-use urban spine trail system that stretches from Calais, Maine, to the Southern Florida Keys. The Ben Sawyer bridge also has a bikeway that runs from Mt. Pleasant and goes over the causeway and into the island.
Sullivan’s Islands has great schools
For those looking to put down roots onSullivan’s Island, it has a couple of highly rated preschools and elementary schools, such as Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, Holy Cross Island School, and Sunrise Children’s School. As ranked by Niche.com, Sullivan’s Island is #5 when it comes to places with the best public schools in South Carolina.
Sullivan’s Islands teems with history
The many historical monuments and destinations on the island are testament to Sullivan’s Island’s place in history, starting with its settlement in the late 17th century by Captain Florence O’Sullivan. The island also played a major part in the Revolutionary War, being the site of the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. It was also involved in the first shots of the American Civil War.
Get you dream home on Sullivan’s Island with Shawn M. Pillion, Realtor®
Why wait until your next holiday to visit Sullivan’s Island when you can live on the island every day? There are so many things to do on Sullivan’s Island and the only way to experience them over and over is to move there. If you’re looking to purchase your own home in South Carolina, you’ll need to work with a knowledgeable, honest, and hardworking real estate agent in the area.
With the help of Realtor Shawn M. Pillion of ChuckTown Homes Real Estate, you can finally make your dream lifestyle come true on Sullivan’s Island. Explore your real estate opportunities on the island today.
Or check out other properties in Dorchester, Charleston, and Berkeley Counties with our team of expert Realtors today!