Folly Beach vs Isle of Palms: Everything You Need to Know

The South Carolina coast is peppered with wonderful beach towns. From the state’s best surfing to world-class golf courses with views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Lowcountry’s beach towns have a lot to offer! Folly Beach and Isle of Palms are two of the most popular places to stay near the shore. Which is right for you, though? Read on to learn more about whether an Isle of Palms or Folly Beach vacation is right for you!  

When you’re ready to start planning your trip, request our Isle of Palms Vacation Guide. This free online guide is filled with local recommendations about what to do in the Charleston area during your trip! 

Request Your Isle of Palms Vacation Guide 

Where Should You Vacation?  

The main difference between Isle of Palms and Folly Beach is the atmosphere. Isle of Palms boasts an upscale, quiet atmosphere, while Folly Beach sees more young visitors in pursuit of the best surf. Keep reading to discover how the beaches, family activities, restaurants, and golf courses differ between Isle of Palms and Folly Beach! 


Isle of Palms 

The vast, sandy stretches of the Isle of Palms beach is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Swimming and watersports here are fantastic, and the area around the main strip hosts fun beach volleyball tournaments and live entertainment at The Windjammer during the day. With so much space up and down the beach, you won’t have a difficult time finding space to set up some beach chairs and read a book, sunbathe, or build sandcastles with the kids. 

Folly Beach 

While the ends of Folly Beach have places for people to put down a beach chair and relax, the center of the beach around the Folly Beach Pier, which is currently under construction until spring 2023, holds beach volleyball, surfing, and other fun beach activities. The restaurants in the center of town turn into bars with lively nightlife when the sun goes down. 

Family Activities 

Isle of Palms  

Isle of Palms draws a big family crowd during its peak seasons. Aside from relaxing and playing on the beach, there’s plenty of kayakingpaddle boardingfishing, and biking opportunities around the island. 

IOP has an overall kid and family-friendly atmosphere that other places around Charleston lack. You can also go on a fascinating eco-tour to learn about the natural habitats in the surrounding waterways and barrier islands! Or take the 30-minute drive to downtown Charleston to check out the aquarium! 

Folly Beach 

Although mostly catering to a younger crowd interested in entertainment and surfing, Folly Beach can still be a great vacation spot for families. You can kayak and paddleboard on the ocean or spend some quality time at Folly Beach County Park. You can also take a quick drive over to downtown Charleston to explore some American history! 


Isle of Palms 

Isle of Palms is filled with great restaurants. From fresh catch seafood joints to classic downhome dishes, there’s an Isle of Palms restaurant for everyone! Next door, Sullivan’s Island also has an excellent selection of small, local restaurants that feature just about every type of tasty food possible. 

Folly Beach 

From classic American fare to tacos – you name it, and Folly Beach has it. Chico Feo, Lost Dog Cafe, and Loggerhead’s Beach Grill are a few of the great places to grab a bite to eat. Most of the restaurants on Folly Beach boast a casual atmosphere, so it’s great for those who want to throw on a swimsuit coverup and go straight from the beach!  


Isle of Palms 

The Isle of Palms golf courses are some of the best in the state. Two of the most popular are Wild Dunes Harbor and Links Courses and Dunes West Golf & River Club. The beautiful setting combined with prestigious accolades ensures that a round of golf at IOP is well worth your time. 

Folly Beach 

While Folly Beach doesn’t have any golf courses on the island, you can venture over to Kiawah Island for a fantastic golf experience. Here, you’ll find five championship courses at one of the premier golf destinations in the state. 

Interested in Visiting Isle of Palms? 

Are you interested in an Isle of Palms or Folly Beach vacation? If you answered Isle of Palms, we can help you plan your trip! East Islands Rentals offers a wide variety of rental homes near Front Beach, most of which are oceanfront property. Reserve one of our rental homes to enjoy direct beach access and ocean views 

Browse a full inventory of our Isle of Palms rental homes to start planning your trip!