About Edisto Beach and Island

… The Way Home

Edisto Island has become known as a Coastal Island destination, a state of mind, anytime … any season.

Edisto is one of the most Serene places found on the South Carolina coast. It is one of South Carolina’s largest Barrier Islands encompassing over 65 square miles, located approximately 45 miles south of Charleston.

It is one of South Carolina’s largest barrier islands encompassing over 65 square miles, located approximately 45 miles south of Charleston. The island is easily accessible by traveling US Highway 17 to SC Highway 174. From I-95 and Walterboro, take SC Highway 64 to US 17 and then to DC 174.

Traveling by land or sea to reach this destination is truly a delightful stroll through nature at its finest.

By land, the winding Highway 174 takes you through a serene canopy of graceful oaks wound with spectacular layers of Spanish moss. Then over the McKinley Washington Bridge with spectacular views of marshes and rivers as you drive over. The wildlife that lives along the road includes whitetail deer, raccoons, otters and beavers.

By water, ancient oaks, unspoiled marshes and rich agricultural land line the banks. The North and South Edisto rivers border the island, connecting to the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway on opposite sides. 

When you reach the end of Scenic Byway SC Highway 174, you will have arrived at Edisto Beach. Edisto Beach is located on the northern side of Saint Helena Sound where the South Edisto River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The beach itself is gently developed with low-level beach houses situated along 4.5 miles of uncrowded,  pristine beach, beside the many tidal creeks and rivers and throughout the interior. 

Countless families have spent generations of vacations exploring the natural beauty this special place has to offer. With its laid-back lifestyle and quiet, breathtaking natural setting, this sea island destination provides everyone a chance to enjoy the slower pace of days gone by. 

There are no hotels on Edisto Beach but there are many rental opportunities of every type and size in which you can experience all that makes Edisto the distinctive destination it is. It is the kind of place you can bring your family, your extended family, your friends or just your significant other to take a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and work.

Edisto is a fantastic Beach for finding shells and shark’s teeth or other fossil hunting. Many rare fossils have been found along the waterline, including the tooth of a three-toed horse, skate jaws, whelk egg cases and ribs and vertebrae of all manner of ocean creatures.

Loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the late spring and summer. Their nests are marked “protected” and monitored by local organizations. For the well-being of the turtles you want to ensure that the lights are out beachside and that you do not disturb any nests that you may find. Please contact the Edisto Beach State Park if you come upon an unmarked nest.

The beach offers big surf at the north end and a calm bay to the south. Playing in the ocean and soaking up the sun are must-do’s. Walking the water line is a popular and healthy activity as are body surfing, windsurfing and sea kayaking.

Historically, the evidence of Edisto Island’s legacy begins with artifacts from the island’s original inhabitants, the Edistow Indians, and the remains of an oyster shell mound, known as Shell Bank on State Park property.

The first Europeans to arrive on Edisto were Spaniards who named the island Oristo. A Jesuit mission briefly operated on the banks of South Creek, however the Spanish never settled permanently. In 1674, Edisto Island was secured for England when the Earl of Shatesbury “purchased” the land from the Edistows.

Englishman Paul Grimball was issued a grant of 600 acres along the North Edisto River where he built his home, the first on Edisto Island. Unfortunately, the house was left in ruins in 1686 when Spanish pirates marauded the property. In 1714 additional settlers arrived and funds were appropriated for construction of the Kings Highway sections which are still traveled today.

Agricultural ventures on Edisto began with an attempt at cultivating the famous Carolina Gold rice. However,  due to the salinity of the low-lying water, the production of this crop proved to be unsuccessful.

Indigo was then introduced and for a short time, prosperity ensued. High bonuses paid by the English government ceased with the start of the American Revolution. This brought about the need for a new crop, a new money maker, the king of all – cotton. Sea Island cotton was that crop and it flourished in Edisto’s rich fertile soil. The planters flourished too, accumulating unimaginable wealth. 

This era, known as Edisto’s golden age, ended with the Civil War. But the arrival of the boll weevil in the early 1900’s devastated the lucrative crop and today the former fields yield not cotton, but vegetables and melons,  while the majestic homes and churches of a more affluent age remain.