10 Fun Things to Do in Pawleys Island

Explore 10 exciting activities in Pawleys Island, SC, from loggerhead turtle adventures to surfing, historic tours, and golfing. Ideal for family fun!

Tobi Miles
July 16, 2024
Explore 10 exciting activities in Pawleys Island, SC, from loggerhead turtle adventures to surfing, historic tours, and golfing. Ideal for family fun!

Are you looking for fun activities for yourself and your family on the Atlantic coastline? Look no further than Pawleys Island.

Pawleys Island is a small barrier island less than 1 mile wide and 4 miles long. A salt marsh separates the island from the mainland, but 2 short causeways provide vehicular access.

You’ll find Pawleys Island just to the south of Myrtle Beach. It is one of the oldest resorts on the East Coast.

Before the Civil War, wealthy rice plantation owners used Pawleys Island as a summer retreat to escape the heat, the mosquitoes, and malaria.

Cool Atlantic breezes moderate summer’s heat and discourage those pesky flying insects.

Pawleys Island, sc

Today, Pawleys Island is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Historic beach houses stand amidst oak and oleander trees.

The island is an oasis of tranquility, and the Town Council has taken steps to ensure its unique heritage and natural beauty are not destroyed by modern development.

Each year, many visitors use Pawleys Island as a base for exploring the beautiful nature reserves along South Carolina’s coast.

The island is renowned for its relaxed, shoeless ambiance. There are many popular activities you can do in Pawleys Island to make your trip special. Here are just 10.

#1. Learn all about loggerhead turtles

Worldwide, there are 7 species of sea turtle. The species most frequently seen on Pawleys Island is the loggerhead turtle. And from mid-May through July, they lay nests on Pawleys Beach.

Adult loggerheads weigh around 300 pounds and are 4 x 3 feet in size. They can lay up to 5 nests on Pawleys Beach every season, each nest containing around 120 golf-ball-sized eggs. Unfortunately, some nests are laid in the inter-tidal zone, which is where you’ll also find humans enjoying their day on the beach.

To protect the vulnerable eggs, South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE) carefully relocate dangerously positioned nests.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources trains and authorizes SCUTE volunteers to take action to protect this endangered animal. When you’re strolling along the

beach, watch out for orange signs on poles surrounding orange screening on the sand. This is a loggerhead nest marked out by SCUTE volunteers to prevent accidental trampling.

Scute Volunteer

A great way to learn about loggerhead turtles is to attend an inventory. Three days after a SCUTE volunteer reports a hatching, an inventory is made of the nest for research purposes.

Such inventories are usually scheduled for 6 pm and announced in advance by a notice on the door of Pawleys Island Town Hall.

During the inventory, SCUTE volunteers give educational lectures and explain why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Since SCUTE volunteers began protecting the nests, the turtle population on Pawleys Island has skyrocketed. DNA tests have proved the same turtles return to Pawleys Island time after time.

Watch out for SCUTE volunteers along the beach.

They wear distinctive white T-shirts with the logo of a turtle shell, and they are more than happy to answer all your turtle-related questions.

#2. Go surfing at Pawleys island!

While Folly Beach is a more famous South Carolina surfing destination, Pawleys Island an also offer great surf.

When conditions are good, you’ll experience 6-feet swells between 150 and 500 feet long.

Other than Pawleys Pier, there are no jetties or natural barriers. Surfing is not permitted within 100 yards of the pier, but you’ll find the best waves in that general area of the beach.

surfing Pawleys island!

Surfing lessons for beginners or more advanced surfers are provided by several local watersport equipment hire businesses including Surf the Earth on Pawleys Island.

Surf the Earth also provides kids’ week-long Surf Camps on Pawleys Island for children aged 7 to 15.

Qualified instructors are available to coach your children in basic surfing techniques, the correct response to rip currents, how to read the surf, and water safety.

#3. Admire the historic buildings around Pawleys Pier

In Pawleys Island’s historic district around the pier, there is a fine selection of antebellum properties. Many have been in the hands of the same family through 4 or 5 generations.

According to local tradition, Pawley House (Joseph Blyth Allston House was originally owned by a member of the Pawley family after whom the island is named.

The house was first built around 1800 and was moved to its current location by Joseph Blyth Allston around 1866.

(Joseph Blyth Allston House source: Shutterstock

The Pelican Inn was originally the home of Plowden C. J. Weston, the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina.

He bought the land in 1844 and the house was built sometime between then and 1858.  The LaBruce, Lemon House was built by successful rice planters.

It is believed the 2 small cabins on the same property were slave dwellings.


Liberty Lodge is one of the oldest houses on Pawleys Island. It was moved to its current location in 1858. In 1912, it was bought by Cornelia C. Ehrich and still belongs to her descendants.

Between 1838 and 1848, All Saints Academy built a summer residence for its headmaster, the All Saints Academy Summer House. The headmaster, Robert F. W. Allston, went on to become Governor of South Carolina between 1856 and 1858. Since Hurricane Hugo, this stately structure has been carefully restored to its former glory.

#4. Enjoy a round of golf

Pawleys Island is a major golfing destination, so pack your clubs into a golf travel bag and bring them along. Within a 5-mile radius, there are 10 great golf courses, many listed among the best in South Carolina. Many of these top-rated golf clubs were built over former rice plantations, so get ready for some challenging slopes.

You’ll find the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club on Pawleys Island’s Grand Strand.

A Scottish immigrant plantation owner called Robert Nesbit purchased the site in 1797 and named his rice plantation Caledonia, which means Scotland in Latin. In 1994, the former plantation was transformed into an aesthetically pleasing golf course.

The course designer, Mike Strantz, aimed to conserve as many elements as possible of the historic and natural site.

You’ll see ancient oaks and colonial terraces. Caledonia was named the Golf Advisor #2 Top Course in South Carolina in 2018.

Golf Courses:

Heritage Plantation Club is another top-rated golf club in Pawleys Island. This par-71 golf course is situated over the sites of True Blue Plantation and Midway Plantation. I

t boasts marshes, freshwater lakes, ancient oaks, and 600 acres of giant magnolias. The southern colonial clubhouse features views across the Waccamaw River.

In 2019, Heritage was named the Golf Advisor #19 Top Course in South Carolina.

Other popular golf courses include;

  • Tradition Golf Club,
  • Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club
  • Litchfield Country Club,
  • Litchfield – The River Club,
  • Willbrook Plantation Golf Club,
  • The Reserve Golf Club,
  • Founders Club of Pawleys Island,
  • True Blue Golf Club.

Tradition Golf Club was named Golf Advisor #6 Top Course in South Carolina in 2019.

Want to play?

If your into Golf and want to improve your skills check out the Golf Clinic in Pawleys Island.

You will get the opportunity to be taught by surperb team of PGA instructors. They also welcome brand new players & have experience to teach all ability levels.

My Husband was thrilled when i got him this for a present! He received a personalized video analysis of his golf swing which had tour player comparisons and graphics.

#5. Explore on a kayak

Pawleys Beach is a great location for kayaking. And when the tide rises, you can explore the salt marsh.

The island is a great base from which to explore the Tidelands of South Carolina, including the Waccamaw River Cypress-Tupelo Swamp Preserves, the Sandy Island Wildlife Preserve, and Huntington Beach State Park’s salt marshes.

Kayaking is an eco-friendly way to explore the natural world and observe wildlife and gets you much closer than a large boat or observation post.

You can bring your own kayak and explore yourself, but you would probably see and learn much more if you took advantage of one of the guided kayak tours available on the island.

Surf the Earth offers a range of eco-tours on kayaks, including sunset tours, morning tours, and alternative stand-up paddleboard tours.

Black River Outdoors Center provides 2- and 4-hour-long guided kayak tours accompanied by local naturalists in solo and tandem river kayaks. And Blue Wave Adventures also operates kayaking adventures from the Crazy Sisters Marina in Murrells Inlet.

#6. Fishing at Pawleys Island

Anglers will love Pawleys Island. You can fish from the two marsh bridges or in the surf.

The saltwater estuaries around Pawleys Island and Myrtle Beach are great locations for catching black drum, flounder, harpoon, redfish, sea trout, shark, sheepshead, and tarpon.

There are several fishing charter companies based around Pawleys Island that offer inshore fishing trips with knowledgeable captains and all the angling equipment you need for a fun-packed and successful day.

Or, if you own your own fishing equipment, fill your rooftop cargo carrier with everything you’ve got. You’ll probably need it.

Carolina Guide Service specializes in family-friendly, all-inclusive chartered fishing trips. They take between 1 and 4 anglers for a full or half-day.

Inshore Extreme Fishing Charter accommodates up to 3 people of any skill level for inshore fishing trips around Myrtle Beach and Pawley’s Island.

But the top-rated local fishing charter on TripAdvisor is Crazy Girl Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet.

Crazy Girl can take you inland to the estuaries or out into the ocean around the nearshore reefs.

#7. River and sea boat tours

There are many fascinating historic and natural sites along the Waccamaw River and along the coastline of South Carolina. A great way to explore the area is by boat.

Captain Steve’s River Tours can transport you back in time aboard a pontoon boat to visit the Waccamaw River Plantation from the 1800s with its rice mills and trunk gates.

Or visit the beautiful lagoon and sand dunes of Sandy Island. But maybe you would prefer a romantic sunset cruise.

Blue Wave Adventures operate morning dolphin watching tours from the Crazy Sisters Marina in Murrells Inlet.

These combine exploration of South Carolina’s stunning Atlantic coastline with the chance to see your favorite marine mammal in the wild.

#8. Laze on Pawleys Beach

Pawleys Beach is a tranquil and pristine family beach. This year, the beach has benefited from a beach re nourishment scheme with the assistance of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Locally sourced sand has been spread across 1/3 of the island to create a picture-perfect beach ready for summer fun.

You can enjoy lots of fun family activities on Pawleys Beach, including shell collecting, kayaking, surfing, and crabbing off a crab dock.

Dogs are welcome on the beach, but they must be kept on a leash.

Sandy Island.beaches

At the south end of the island, you’ll find the biggest free public beach access lot in the county.

In total, there are 9 public beach access points around Pawleys Island providing 141 parking spaces, including handicap-friendly parking.

#9. Apache Pier

If you want to see the sea without stepping onto a boat or paddling a kayak, you can visit Apache Pier at the Apache Family Campground on Myrtle Beach. Apache Pier is the longest wooden pier on the Atlantic Coast and offers a selection of activities for locals and visitors alike.

Walk to the end of the pier to admire the ocean without getting your feet wet. Listen to live music during the summer months.

And if you love angling, you can rent rods and other tackle from the pier’s bait shop and enjoy sea fishing from the pier without needing a boat.

The pier also offers a gaming arcade for younger visitors and Croakers, a popular and relaxed seafront restaurant.

#10. Art galleries

Pawley Island is one of those romantic places that tend to attract artistic types from around the world, so it’s no surprise to find that there are two art galleries on the island.

And if you’re interested in learning how to paint, you’re in luck.

Island Art Gallery is found in Pawleys Island’s Village Shops. Here you can purchase fine art from nationally known and local artists.

This gallery also runs educational art classes: introductory art classes, landscape painting courses, and open studio time with an instructor on hand for assistance.

Island Art Gallery pawleys island. Source: Getty Images

The Cheryl Newby Gallery features a broader range of art including antique maps and charts, ceramics, sculptures, and fine paintings.

The gallery hosts regular shows to showcase the wide variety of art they sell.

Where to stay in Pawleys island?

For a list of our recommended places to stay in Pawleys Island, including special deals. Follow the link HERE

Pawleys Island is also a great place for beach walks and fine dining.

It’s a relaxing destination where you can experience life at a slower pace, with less traffic and more fresh air.

Why don’t you head on down there and discover this quiet corner of South Carolina for yourself?

Be sure to check out: New York to Myrtle Beach Road Trip: Weekend Itinerary

Myrtle Beach South Carolina. Source: getty

7 Essential Road Trip Tips:

1. Book Your Hotels in Advance!

To avoid having to drive around looking for hotels when your tired (My wife hates this!)

& to get the best prices, Check out our: How to find the Best Hotel Deals??

"Stay in the hotel run by the Von Trapp family. Made famous by the Sound of Music, the Von Trapps have run this upscale Austrian-inspired lodge since escaping Nazi-occupied Austria and arriving in Stowe in 1942." 

2. Get the Best deal on Car Rental

For some vital tips to know before renting a car & to get the best deals check out, Ultimate Car Rental Travel Hacks!

3. Need an RV?

If you fancy an RV adventure, you have to check RV Share

It’s an RV share platform, like airbnb where you can rent someones RV at a fraction of cost compared to normal!

Bring your RV to Tiden Park.

4. Bring a Great Travel Camera!

Want to capture those vacation memories? For friends, Facebook or even Instagram!

A phone just doesn’t compare with a high quality travel camera, they are well worth the investment!

Make sure you are equip with some great Photography Gear!

Check out our Recommended Travel Photography Gear

5. Make sure you have all your Essential Travel Accessories

Phone died?? You should have brought a Chargeable power bank now your stuck in the mountains (Happened to me in the Rockies!!).

Have you packed all your Travel essentials!??

Other essential Travel Accessories, I don’t leave home without include;

  • Space Saving Water Bottles (These are great for a day out with the family or hiking!)
  • Comfy Neck Pillows (A must have for long road trips)
  • Hidden Money Belt (These are vital when travelling in busy tourist areas where pickpockets are common)

6. Get yourself a high quality backpack,

Pots of Jam smashed!??? After leaving Pikes Place Farmers Market my old backpack ripped and pots of Jam smashed everywhere!

I was so embarrassed, don’t let this happen to you! A high quality backpack is even more essential if out travelling with the family or hiking.


7. Need Help Planning!?

Is planning your own trip is getting time consuming and stressful? An organised tour could be a great option for you!

They organize Flights, Hotels, Car Rental, Activities and much more!

Check out our reviews here: Which are the Best travel Tours?

Orlando Tours

Related Reading:

Atlanta to Charleston Road Trip: Via Savannah

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens-Charleston. Source: livewellbefabulous.com

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
July 16, 2024 10:27 AM

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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