The City Magazine Since 1975

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms
July 2009
Love beach music? Tourists and locals have been heating up the sandy dance floors here since the early 20th century.

The baseline of this barrier island has been more drumbeat than lapping waves ever since its days as a wildly popular big band tour stop in the 1920s, when “Hop Night” filled the ferry from Charleston with young, starry-eyed dancers. Although two iterations of a beachfront pavilion were lost to fire, a live music venue has been a near-constant fixture since the turn of the 19th century. From Lennie Hayton to The Drifters, James Brown to Hootie and the Blowfish, music has dominated this lively, vacation-minded island, where shacks and mansions, residents and tourists coexist. Since the 1970s, music central has been the Windjammer. During the day, the sand volleyball court attracts some of the hottest bodies on the beach, and at night, the Holy City’s best rockers keep the party going strong. Frequent visitors to the seaside stage include Better Than Ezra, Cowboy Mouth, Jupiter Coyote, and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. If boogying is your bag, this is the beach for you.

From yoga classes, community theater, and an honor-system library to coed sports and half-rubber tournaments, the offerings at the Isle of Palms Recreation Department are considerable. 24 28th Ave., (843) 886-8294,


  • Families: IOP County Park (bathrooms & lifeguards). 14th Ave.
  • See & Be Seen: 10th-14th aves.
  • Sports: Volleyball courts in front of the Windjammer. 1008 Ocean Blvd.
  • Solitude: The island’s eastern tip (avenues 46+)

Tidal Wave Watersports: Adrenaline-inducing activities, from parasailing to wakeboarding. 69 41st Ave., (843) 886-8456,


  • ACME Cantina: Best bet for cold margaritas and fresh guacamole. 31 J. C. Long Blvd., (843) 886-0024‎‎
  • The Boathouse at Breach Inlet: Panoramic views, fresh seafood, and a lively crowd. 101 Palm Blvd.,
    (843) 886-8000‎
  • Coconut Joe’s: Gimmicky? Yes, but the views from the bar can’t be beat. 1120 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-0046‎
  • Huck’s Lowcountry Table: Serving Southern fare in an oceanside setting. 1130 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-6772‎
  • Morgan Creek Grill: Brunch or dine on the upper deck with its stunning view of the Intracoastal. 80 41st Ave., (843) 886-8980‎
  • Sea Biscuit Café: Come early and bring cash to this favorite breakfast spot.21 J. C. Long Blvd., (843) 886-4079‎


  • Beachtown: An oceanside emporium filled with cover-ups, flip-flops, etc. 1101 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-9845‎
  • Red & White: The island’s full-service grocery store. 1513 Palm Blvd.


  • Windjammer: Check the band, surf, and volleyball cams to see all the action: 1008 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-8948
  • Banana Cabana: When the sun goes down, the deck heats up with live music. 1130 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-4361

Make sure your tires don’t touch the road when parking off of the street or you’ll find a ticket waiting on your windshield. The front beach area, between 10th and 14th avenues, offers metered spaces.

Dogs are welcome on the beach year-round but must be on a leash. Be sure to bring your pooper scooper or bags!

Don’t even think about it. If you’re caught, the local peace officers will issue a $133 to $1,000 ticket, depending on your attitude.