Also known as O’Sullivan’s Island, this city is indeed an island in the county of Charleston on the Charleston Harbor. The population is only about 2,000 people, but during the summer season, it can reach 10x that amount. However, it is much less crowded than the nearby tourist towns like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. The city boasts warm temperatures in the middle 60s during the winter months and upper 80s during the summer months, making outdoor activities very popular.
With such excellent weather year-round, the island is packed with beaches and parks where you and your fur buddy can play. Some of the beaches are pup-popular and allow dogs on the sand and in the water, but you will need to get a dog permit on a red collar, which you can get from city hall. In fact, you can find more than two dozen beaches in and around Sullivan’s Island to take your pup. We listed our favorites here.
Sullivans Island Beach
Sullivan’s Island is the main beach on the island and is pet-friendly to off-leash pups from 5 AM until 10 AM from the beginning of May through September and from 5 AM until 12 PM from October through May. They are not allowed on the beach at all from 10 AM until 6 PM during the summer months but are welcome all other times as long as they are on a leash. You will first need to get a permit from the town hall on Middle Street.
This large beach is located right in the middle of the island and features a mile of soft golden sand and clear blue waters. You and your pup can play frisbee, toss around a ball, swim in the surf, and build sandcastles on the beach while you are here, but you have to bring your own doggie cleanup baggies and pick up after your pup right away.
Station 16 Beach
On the western end of Sullivan’s Island, Station 16 Beach allows pups leash-free from 5 AM to 10 AM from May until October and on the leash from 6 PM to 5 AM. The rest of the year, your dog can play off the leash from 5 AM until noon and on the leash the rest of the time. It starts with a lush nature trail that can sometimes be a bit overgrown. If you decide to stick with the trail to its end, you will get some wonderful views from several observation decks before it runs back to the sand.
This is a wide-open patch of golden sand with moderately calm waters and lots of wildlife. Because there are so many beaches, which are all called stations, there is no certain one that gets overly crowded, and this is one where you will sometimes find the beach all to yourself. However, there are no amenities, and you need to bring your own doggie bags.
Station 18 Beach
Right next door, Station 18 is another great place to spend the day at the beach. However, you will have to follow the same hourly rules as all of the station beaches. This one also begins with a tree-covered boardwalk with benches to enjoy on the way to the sand, taking you over the dunes and through the mysterious forest. This is one of the more popular beaches but there is always plenty of space on such a large patch.
Maybe it is most popular for its view of the lighthouse. Although it is not open to the public, there are interpretive signs that tell you all about its history. Be sure to pack some doggie bags to pick up anything your pup drops, and bring extra water and snacks because there are no concession stands or food trucks here. Also, like the others, there are no restrooms, showers, or water fountains.
Station 21 Beach
About a mile to the northeast, Station 21 is one of the handicap-accessible beaches that allow dogs which includes a metal railing all along the path. As you walk over the boardwalk, you will notice that the beach and dunes have grassy lawns growing on them, which gives it a more park-like feel. And like the others, you have to abide by the same hourly rules and leash laws. This one also does not have any amenities, so bring water, snacks, and puppy poo bags to pick up after your pup.
Parking is not easy either, being at the end of a residential street with no lot. Just make sure you get all tires off the street when parking and obey the signs. Otherwise, you and your pooch can run and play on the sand and in the water all day leash-free from 5 AM to 10 AM from May until October and on the leash from 6 PM to 5 AM. The rest of the year, your dog can play off the leash from 5 AM until noon and on the leash the rest of the time.
Station 23 Beach
Around the middle of the island, Station 23 Beach is a place for flora and fauna lovers. The hours for dogs remain the same, and there are no amenities here either, but it is full of vibrant wildflowers, lush green grass, and sensational views. The walk to the sand begins with a nice long boardwalk over the dunes, giving you a nice tour of the native plants and flowers. However, part of this trail is known to be muddy after rainfall.
The sand is soft, and the water is warm and clean so bring your sunscreen, towels, and beach toys for you and Fido to enjoy. Don’t forget the cooler with snacks and drinks! Also, remember to bring the doggie bags. Like the others, parking can be tough here, too but you can always park down the street and walk. Just be mindful of the neighbors, as this is a residential area.
Station 26 Beach
Several miles down the sand, Station 26 Beach is another handicapped-accessible spot where you and your fur puppy can swim and play during the same hourly rules as the rest. This one can get busy, especially during the summer, so these rules will make sense once you see how crowded it gets. The sand patch is large and wide though, so you will have room to stretch out a blanket and have a picnic. But bring your own food and drinks.
On your way to the beach on the wooden walkway, you will notice a small olive orchard, and there are a few benches where you can sit and wipe the sand from your feet to put your shoes back on before leaving. It is a lovely beach with lots of grassy areas and shade where you can rest and watch your canine companion play. Bring doggie bags to pick up whatever your dog drops as well.
Station 28 Beach
You will find Station 28 Beach almost at the end of Sullivan’s Island. As you head down its shaded, tree-filled entrance, you will get to see a variety of native plants and flowers like Station 23. This includes some of the cool wildlife that lives in the area, like sea turtles, shore birds, and even some alligators. Keep your fur puppy on the leash until you get down to the beach to prevent him from getting too close.
The leash and time laws here are the same as the other station beaches on Sullivan’s Island, and Station 28 also has no restrooms, water fountains, or showers. You will need to pack in your own food and drinks as well as some puppy poo baggies to pick up after your pup. Once you get to the beach, pick your spot, spread out a blanket, and relax. Or grab your dog’s favorite ball and play some fetch before cooling off in the water.
Station 28 ½ Beach
This unique beach is another popular spot because it has a UFO parked on it. That is the first thing you will notice at Station 28 ½ Beach as soon as you get there. However, even though it looks like something from outer space, it is actually a dome-shaped house created to withstand a hurricane built for a couple who lost their home to Hurricane Hugo. But that is not all this beach is known for.
It is also popular for kiteboarding and picnicking, with tons of great sandbars and lots of room to play. The abundance of small islands makes it possible to walk out quite far to see all sorts of tide pools. Like all the other beaches on Sullivan’s Island, you have to follow the same leash laws and hours and bring in your own food, drinks, and doggie doo baggies. Then, pick your spot on the sand and enjoy!
Thompson Park Beach
Thompson Park is a historic site located right on the beach between Sullivan’s Island and the Isle of Palms, right at the Breach Inlet. The 1776 Revolutionary War Battle ended here with the British soldiers drowning when trying to cross to the Isle of Palms. This led to a major victory for the American Patriots of Charles Town soon after. This day is celebrated as Carolina Day every June 28th ever since 1777, when it was called Palmetto Day.
But it is also one of the most popular kite surfing beaches on Sullivan’s Island. Many people come from all around to surf as well as to do some swimming and sunbathing. It is also known as a great place to see dolphins and porpoises. Your pooch is allowed off the leash from 5 AM until noon and on the leash until 11 PM from October until May. The rest of the time, he is allowed off the leash from 5 AM until 10 AM and on the leash from 6 PM until 11 PM.
Isle of Palms Beach
Minutes away on the Isle of Palm Beaches, your canine companion is welcome on the beach from 5 AM until 9 AM off his leash from April until September 15th and from 4 PM until 10 AM September 15th to April 1st. At all other times, your pup is welcome as long as he is on a leash. You will need to bring your own doggie cleanup baggies to pick up whatever your pup drops while you are there.
The county park is located right in the middle of the island and boasts boardwalks, lifeguards, restrooms, and outdoor showers. They also have a playground for the kids, a volleyball court, picnic areas with grills, and concessions to get something to eat and drink. If you did not bring a chair or umbrella, don’t worry, you can get those here too! The rest of the beaches along the coast here are also dog-friendly but may not have the same amenities.
A short drive from Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach is just southwest of Folly Island. At this large patch of sand, your fur puppy is allowed on the beach as long as they are leashed from October until May, but from May through September, you will have to find a different beach to enjoy because of the crowds. There is plenty of space to run, play fetch, and swim or get out on the water in a kayak, surfboard, or paddleboard.
The beach is popular with pup parents during the off-season when the neighborhood opens up to its four-legged residents. There is a cafe called the Lost Dog Cafe here with an outdoor area that serves pups as well as their pup parents. Folly Beach also features several places to rent boats, take a tour, or get some souvenirs. Make sure you keep your canine companion on a leash because the fine can be up to $500!
Kiawah Beachwalker Park Beach
Just to the west of Folly Beach, Kiawah Beachwalker Park has several acres of space to enjoy and explore on Kiawah Island. Right between Kiawah River and the Atlantic Ocean, this is a great place to enjoy a swim with your canine companion. He will need to be on a leash at all times while you are there from November until March 15th, but that will not stand in the way of your fun. The rest of the time, he has to be on a leash.
This is one of the only public beaches on the island, so it can get crowded. Besides surf and sand, you will also find picnic areas with grills, umbrella and chair rentals, a snack bar, showers, and restrooms. There is also a nice boardwalk you can enjoy but be sure to bring doggie bags to pick up anything your dog drops along the way.
James Island County Park Beach
Just a few miles inland, there is a fun dog park at the James Island County Park. You can let your pooch off the leash and let him run wild with the rest of the fur babies. The fenced park has several acres and a special section for small and shy pups. It even has a lake where your canine companion can have a swim off the leash. There are plenty of benches and other seating for pet parents to relax and watch the pups play.
The rest of the park is also fun, with open meadows, playgrounds, miles of trails, and picnic areas with grills, volleyball, and horseshoe pits. You can also play disc golf or rent a bike, kayak, or paddleboard. If you want to stay more than one day, book one of the 124 campsites in advance. Each site has picnic tables, a fire ring, and a parking pad. Some even have electricity and water.
Morris Island Beach
Morris Island is just across the Charleston Harbor and welcomes fur babies as long as they are on the leash unless you are in the dog run, where he can play leash-free. You can only get to the island by boat, but if you do not happen to have one handy, you can get a ride from one of the tour guides there. Adventure Harbor Tours will take you out and give you and your canine compadre a three-hour tour for a small fee.
The island has 840 acres to explore, and you can see the stunning Morris Island Lighthouse right off the shore. Fort Wagner was built on this historic site in 1860 to protect the area from the troops during the American Civil War. There are plenty of tour guides in the area, or you can take a self-guided tour with your fur baby to see all of the historical monuments.
Charleston’s Waterfront Park Beach
Also known as Joe Riley Waterfront Park, this park has close to 10 acres of space to play with your pup as long as he is on a leash the whole time you are there. The park is named after the former mayor who enjoyed the area and has about a thousand feet of waterfront where you and your pooch can splash in the Cooper River on a warm day. Make sure you bring your own puppy poo bags to pick up after your pup.
Be sure to visit the Pineapple Fountain while you are in the park and get some selfies with your favorite pup. It is shaped like a pineapple and is lit up at night. You and your dog cannot get in and play but there is a water spray area nearby where you can both cool off. The park also has trails, a playground, and picnic areas.
The Final Woof
While you are on Sullivan’s Island, stop in at Poe’s Tavern on Middle Street, where you and your fur baby can enjoy a meal, and you can have an adult beverage. They serve some excellent burgers and sandwiches here, and you can learn a lot about its namesake, Edgar Allen Poe. Right across the street, you can find other pup-popular eating establishments like Home Team BBQ and High Thyme Cuisine. Or you can take your furry family member to J. Marshall Stith Park, also on Middle Street, next to the city hall, where there are playgrounds, picnic tables, a tennis court, and walking paths.