17 Fun Dog-Friendly Beaches for Fur Babies in South Carolina

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South Carolina is situated between North Carolina and Georgia in the southeastern United States, with more than 225 miles of oceanfront on the Atlantic. With famous attractions like Hilton Head, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, as well as the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a popular tourist destination. Some of the most popular parks include Devils Fork, Table Rock, and Oconee, and you will also find numerous waterfalls, including Raven Cliff, Laurel Fork, and Wildcat Wayside Falls.   

Besides the ocean, the state of South Carolina also has a dozen major lakes, including the 110,000-acre Lake Marion, 71,000-acre Clarks Hill Lake, and 60,000-acre Lake Moultrie, as well as countless ponds, creeks, and rivers. And with an average high of 77 degrees F and an average low of 57 degrees F, outdoor activities are popular. From boating to swimming and biking to hiking, there is plenty to do outdoors. Here are 17 dog beaches in South Carolina that you should visit with your pup. 

Cherry Grove Point Beach

Just a few minutes south of the border with North Carolina, Cherry Grove Point Beach is the first ocean beach in the state. Your pooch is allowed on the oceanfront beach or House Creek all year long, but from May 15th until September 15th, he is only allowed before 10 AM and after 5 PM. Your canine companion also has to be on a lead that is 6 feet long or shorter at all times. But don’t worry; the weather is great all year in Myrtle Beach!

Also known as Cherry Grove Oceanfront Park, there is more than just sand and water here. You will also find picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and water fountains, as well as a play area for the little humans. Thinking of fishing? Take a walk out onto the pier where the world record for Tiger Sharks was set in 1964. It was almost 1,800 pounds! But there are also crabs, trout, bass, flounder, mackerel, and whiting. 

Barc Park South

About 30 minutes south, this park has all of the necessities for you and your dog to enjoy the water off-leash and on. At Barc Park South, your fur baby has 14 acres of fenced space to run around without a leash playing with other fur babies. You can enjoy a game of fetch or toss around a frisbee without the hindrance of a leash. There is also a 2-acre lake within the fence where your pup is welcome to swim and play around. 

So who needs the ocean where your pup is only allowed in the early morning or evening? At Bark Park South, you will both be happy as you sit on one of the shaded benches to watch your pooch frolic and get rid of some of that excess energy he always seems to have. There is even agility equipment, fire hydrants, a doggie wash area, and complimentary Mutt Mitts to pick up after your doggo.

Huntington Beach State Park 

Another 15 miles to the south, and you will find a large white sandy beach at Huntington Beach State Park, where your pupster is welcome all year long at the southern end of the sand. That gives you and Fido, about one and a half miles of beach, to enjoy as long as he is leashed. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, or play in the sand, you can enjoy the whole day at Huntington Beach State Park. But remember to bring doggie bags.

Saltwater fishing here is fantastic whether you are on the jetty or along the sand, but make sure you have a fishing license. Boating is also available at the boat access ramp at Oyster Landing. There are also several trails, including the two-mile Sandpiper Pond Trail. If you plan to stay for a while, book one of the 178 campsites. Over 100 of them have electricity and water included. 

Pawleys Island Beach

For a whole island that is leash free most of the year, Pawleys Island is where you want to go! Less than 10 miles from Huntington Beach State Park, Pawleys Island has nine official public beach access sites along the Atlantic Ocean, including First Street Beach, Pritchard Street Landing, and Broken Groin Beach. And as long as your pup is under voice control and you have a leash in hand, he can run and play leashless any time from October to May. 

During the summer season, from May through September, your pooch is still welcome on the beach, but he has to be leashed from 8 AM to 8 PM. The historic island has been welcoming guests since the early 18th century and is now a popular vacation spot for those who want to avoid the crowds. Besides swimming, you can go fishing, crabbing, boating, or just enjoy a good book on the beach. 

Santee Coastal Reserve Beach

Santee Coastal Reserve, Wildlife Management Area, is just about 45 minutes to the south between the South Santee River and the Atlantic Ocean. It is made up of several islands, including Cedar, Murphy, and the Cape, as well as the Washo Reserve. These former rice fields are now the perfect breeding grounds for sea turtles and other important flora and fauna. You and your pooch can enjoy either one of the freshwater beaches or join the rest of the crowd on the ocean. 

Besides swimming and sunbathing, the 24,000 acres of space also has multiple trails that include the 4.7-mile Cape Trail through the rice fields, 1.9-mile Marshland Trail with boardwalk, and the 2.3-mile Woodland Trail through the forest. Bring along a pole and tackle to do some fishing while you are here too. But make sure you have a fishing license. And always pack plenty of puppy poo-poo bags. 

Isle of Palms Beach

Almost an hour to the south, the Isle of Palms Beach is found on the southern end of the island at the Isle of Palms County Park. It includes seven miles of white sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean where your fur puppy can swim as long as he is leashed at all times. But you can bring along toys, treats, and whatever else you and Fido need for a day on the beach. And do not forget to bring lots of doggie cleanup bags. 

At the park, there are volleyball courts, a boardwalk, chair, and umbrella rentals, and picnic areas with barbecue grills. They also have lifeguards from May through September, a dressing room, modern restrooms, outdoor showers, and a concession stand with food, snacks, and drinks. Also, from April through September, your pupster can play off the leash before 9 AM, and the rest of the year, the hours are before 10 AM and after 4 PM. 

Riverfront Park

How about some river fun? You will find Riverfront Park about half an hour north of Isle of Palms Beach. This is a large park that runs along Cooper River right next to the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial. It includes all sorts of great features, like Chicora Park, several trails, a playground, and picnic areas, as well as a dog park. You can let your canine companion off his leash at the fenced park that used to be a golf course. 

Be sure you bring your pup’s favorite ball and tug toys as well as a frisbee so you can play together. Or you can just sit on a shaded bench and watch him run around with the other fur babies. The park also has its own cafe called MOMO, right by the splash pad. If you want to enjoy some life music, food, and shopping, be there on April 15th or 16th during the High Water Music Festival. 

Brittlebank Park

Seven miles to the north, Brittlebank Park has 10 acres on Ashley River, where fur babies are welcome all year long. With almost a mile of riverfront space, you and your pup can spend the whole day here swimming, boating, or fishing. Although he has to have a leash of six feet or less in most of the park, he can play off the leash at the southern end of the waterfront. He will love being able to play fetch or swim around without having to drag you along. 

However, the river has a current, so make sure your pooch does not go out too far, and if he is not a swimmer, put a dog life vest on him for safety. You can also take a pole out on the fishing pier and try to catch a whopper. There is also a boardwalk and dock to explore and a boat launch. Pack a lunch and have a picnic at one of the picnic tables after working up an appetite. 

Folly Beach 

About 10 miles from Brittlebank Park, Folly Beach allows dogs any time between October to May, but from May through September, dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10 AM and 6 PM. It is a large beach that runs five miles along the entire oceanside of Folly Island. You can enjoy many activities here, like fishing, kayaking, sailing, surfing, and paddleboarding, as well as swimming and sunbathing. 

On the western tip of the island, Folly Beach County Park provides another mile of waterfront on both the ocean as well as the Folly River. Here your pup can swim any time he likes as long as he is on a leash. They also rent beach chairs and umbrellas and provide restrooms, outdoor showers, and dressing areas. There is also a boardwalk, snack bar, and picnic area. Nearby, there is an eating establishment called the Lost Dog Cafe where you can bring your pupster for a meal. 

Kiawah Beachwalker Park Beach

On the next island over, Kiawah Beachwalker Park is also pup-friendly, but they have some detailed rules as well. He is not allowed in the critical habitat area at any time of the year. And everywhere else, your pup has to be leashed at all times from March 16th to October 31st. For the rest of the year, he can be off the leash as long as he is voice controlled. Be sure to bring enough dog waste bags to pick up after your furry friend while you are there too. 

Besides swimming in the ocean as well as the Kiawah River, you can also enjoy the boardwalk, have a picnic in one of the picnic areas, and rent an umbrella to give yourself some shade. There is also a snack bar, chair rentals, outdoor showers, and changing rooms. Much of the island is owned by private clubs and hotels, so this public beach can get very crowded during the summer weekends. 

Edisto Beach State Park 

Hop to the next island to the west, and you will find Edisto Beach State Park, where you can choose between the Atlantic Ocean, Wadmalaw River, and Big Bay Creek to enjoy with your fur puppy. In fact, there are over 1,250 acres to explore and enjoy with your leashed pooch with one and a half miles of coastline, four miles of trail, two large picnic shelters with plenty of picnic tables, and playgrounds for the little humans. 

For those who want to stay for a while, there are two campgrounds with 120 campsites and several cabins. This includes 40 sites on Scott Creek and 75 sites on the ocean. Both saltwater and freshwater fishing are available here as well, so bring your fishing license and gear. If you have a boat, you can bring that too! Just be sure to pack plenty of doggie bags to pick up anything your pup drops. 

Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin Beach

Not far from Charleston, the Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin Nature Preserve is just 20 miles to the north of Edisto Beach State Park. Running through the park, Ashepoo River, Combahee River, South Edisto River, North Creek, Mosquito Creek, and Fishing Creek all give you miles of waterfront to enjoy. Fido will love sniffing all of the curious new scents along the water. But keep him on a short lead because there have been alligators spotted here. 

With over 350,000 acres, this park is the largest of its kind in South Carolina and is full of wild creatures, including foxes, bobcats, coyotes, deer, otters, skunks, and even black bears. There are also a plethora of water birds like pelicans, gulls, pipers, and terns. If you plan on fishing here, be sure you have a South Carolina fishing license. You could possibly catch some largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. 

Hunting Island State Park

Hunting Island is the most popular state park in the state of South Carolina and draws over a million visitors annually. With five miles of soft golden sand along the ocean and another several miles of waterfront on Johnson Creek, dogs are welcome to swim and play on the beach as long as they are leashed at all times. There are even a saltwater lagoon, forest, and freshwater marsh to explore along the nature trails. 

The main attraction for historians is the Hunting Island lighthouse that was built in 1859, destroyed in the Civil War, and rebuilt in 1875. This is no ordinary lighthouse, though. It has different cast-iron sections to take it apart and move it if it needs moving. It was already relocated once in 1889 when the beach erosion made it dangerous. The only place your pup is not welcome is at the end of North Beach, where the shorebirds nest. 

Santee State Park Beach

Santee State Park is another great inland park where your fur puppy is welcome all year long. It is on the 110-acre Lake Marion, about two hours northeast of Hunting Island, and features two boat ramps and six picnic shelters you can reserve for a group gathering. It has 2,500 acres of lush green forest and grasses with over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails to enjoy with your canine companion as long as he is on a lead six feet long or shorter. 

You can both enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking along the water as well as just relaxing in the sun. You can stay the night or even the whole week here too, with 158 campsites, 48 of which have electricity and water. If you would rather sleep indoors, there are also 30 cabins of which nine are pup-friendly. Just make sure you pack enough doggie bags to pick up after him for as long as you are there. 

Dreher Island State Park Beach

In the middle of South Carolina, Dreher Island State Park is almost two hours from Santee State Park on the huge 50,000-acre Lake Murray with 12 miles of shoreline. The park includes three different islands that are connected to make almost 350 acres. Leashed dogs are always welcome as long as they are friendly. You can bring him to the beach to play in the water as long as you clean up after him and do not let him bother the other parkgoers.

Fishing here is legendary, with lunker striped bass and largemouth bass as well as huge catfish. You will need to have a state fishing license, though. The park also has several trails covering about three miles. There are two campgrounds along the water with gorgeous views with over 110 different sites. All of them have water and electricity as well as a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill. 

Sadlers Creek State Park Beach

Two hours to the northwest just across Savannah River from Georgia, Sadler’s Creek State Park is a peninsula sitting on 395 acres of Lake Hartwell. Dogs and their pup parents love this place because there are no restrictions except that you keep him on a leash. Otherwise, he can join you anywhere in the park, including the 100-foot fishing pier, where the fishing is awesome! There are two boat ramps in case you brought a boat to explore the 56,000 acres of the lake. 

There are not as many campsites here as the other parks so you will have to book way in advance if you plan to stay for a while. There are 65 sites altogether, with playgrounds, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. You can also get a workout on six miles of biking and hiking trails and enjoy a picnic or barbecue after you work up an appetite. 

Ebenezer Park Beach

Last but not least, Ebenezer Park is a smaller community park with 26 acres about two and a half hours northeast of Sadlers Creek State Park. Located in York County, the park sits on the 13,445-acre Lake Wylie, where you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing with your favorite furry friend as long as he is leashed. There is a protected beach area in the northeastern section of the park with a concession stand, picnic tables, and a kids’ playground. 

Between the parking lot and the beach, you will find a basketball court, volleyball court, and an event building, as well as restrooms and another picnic area. The park also has a lovely pup-friendly campground with 66 campsites. They all have electricity and water access. Be sure to book your spot in advance because they fill up fast. Also, pack lots of pup poo poo baggies to pick up anything your fur baby drops while you are there. 

The Final Woof

If you were thinking of taking your fur puppy out on the water, check out one of the local tour services. Adventure Harbor Tours in Mount Pleasant has several pup popular boat rides to enjoy, like the Sunset Cruise, Charleston Harbor, or Morris Island. Or you can go look for dolphins and other marine life on Captain Mark’s Dolphin Cruise in Hilton Head. If you would rather stay on land, the Charleston Carriage Works offers dog-friendly carriage rides around the city of Charleston. Afterward, you and your canine companion can visit River Rat Brewery in Columbia, where your pup can join you while you try some of the best local craft brews. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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