Things to Do in Pawleys Island SC

Pawleys Island beach

We had a whirlwind trip to the U.S. in May, a break from the boat that didn’t really feel like a break because we were so busy! In addition to getting the coveted Covid vaccine, we spent a few weeks catching up with friends, family, and exploring new places. Much of that time was spent where my mom lives and we found a lot of things to do in Pawleys Island SC.

About Pawleys Island

Pawleys Island is a small beach town on a barrier island in the Low Country of South Carolina. Things move slower there, and it’s pretty and peaceful most of the time. Located 70+ miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, we drove from Florida to visit my mom.

For a small town, there’s many fun things to do in Pawleys Island. It’s especially fun when good friends fly down from New Jersey for a few days to join you. Very conveniently, Myrtle Beach airport is only 30 minutes away! We kept busy so I have suggestions of things to do in Pawleys Island SC.

Brookgreen Gardens

I’ve been here three times and every time I notice something different. A botanical garden, sculpture park, and wildlife preserve, Brookgreen Gardens is over 9000 acres of curated beauty. There’s also a zoo but seeing animals in cages is depressing so feel free to skip that part. The garden offers more than enough to fill your time. For those with kids, the children’s park is super cute and anyone can go on the boat ride in the creek.

Brookgreen Gardens
Fountain with sculpture and garden at Brookgreen Gardens SC
Brookgreen Gardens one of many things to do in Pawleys Island SC
Brookgreen Gardens beautifully highlights both nature and art

Go Kayaking

The Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh is a lovely spot to kayak among birds and other wildlife. We joined the 2 hour salt marsh tour with Black River Outdoors and had a great time, and learned a lot, on the water. It’s very protected in there and a relatively easy paddle for most of the tour.

kayak tour Murrells Inlet
Kayaking Murrells Inlet

We saw where the oyster traps are laid, spotted great blue herons and more migratory birds, and some of the group even saw a turtle! They offer different tours, and if you go at different times of day, because of the tides you’ll see completely different scenery and wildlife.

Great Blue Heron salt marsh Murrells Inlet
Great Blue Heron posed for us in the salt marsh

Hit The Beach

Of course you have to go to the beach. The most popular beach in the region is Huntington Beach State Park and I can see why! Brian and I biked there from my mom’s and it was great. The long path into the park is surrounded by water on both signs and turns out to be a prime birding spot. You can also keep an eye out for alligators in this section as well.

bird in the park South Carolina
One of many birds in Huntington Beach State Park

Of course, the top attraction is the beach. Not gonna lie the water was a little chilly after years visiting the beaches in the Caribbean, but it felt great! We were also smart to take our bikes because the parking lot closes when it’s full, which is common on summer weekends in South Carolina.

Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park gets busy on the weekends

Go Cycling

You know I try to keep fit on the boat, but I miss cycling, and Pawleys Island offers great trails. Bike trails run from my mom’s house up to the US 17 highway and north to the state park and beyond into Murrells Inlet. Even in the heat, the sheltered bike path along the highway is mostly well shaded and cooler than you’d expect. Brian and I spent a few days exploring the trails, finding geocaches, and visiting places in Pawleys Island. We saw a lot of people of all ages using the trails, and you may have to share with pedestrians and people in golf carts!

biking trail things to do in Pawleys Island SC
Nice shaded biking trail in Pawleys’ Island

Golf

The Pawleys Island-Myrtle Beach area is a destination for golfers, with multiple world-class award winning courses. If you love golf and haven’t been, that won’t last. It’s also a top place for mini-golf, with a wide variety of places to play along the Highway 17.

Eat Barbecue

It is South Carolina, after all, so barbecue places are plentiful in and around Pawleys Island. We tried a few local BBQ joints, and enjoyed ribs, chicken and more.

Hog Heaven BBQ Pawleys Island
Hog Heaven BBQ in Pawleys Island SC

Hog Heaven is on Highway 17 south of Pawleys Island.

Moe’s Barbecue is also on Highway 17, in Pawleys Island.

Drink Craft Beer

We like to sample the local beer everywhere we go, and South Carolina and Florida are full of breweries. On our way north, we stopped in a couple near Mount Pleasant, outside of Charleston.

beer flight
Beer Tasting at Hobcaw in South Carolina

Many of the bars and restaurants in Murrells Inlet also serve local beers. Honestly we were overwhelmed at the options in the supermarkets and wine stores after the limited selection we’ve grown used to in the Caribbean!

craft beer South Carolina
An aisle of beer in a South Carolina store

Local Bars serving local craft beer:

  1. Dead Dog Saloon, on US 17 in Murrells Inlet
  2. Beer Belly Deli, 830 Inlet Square Drive, Murrells Inlet
  3. Grahams Landing, US 17 in Murrells Inlet

Florida

We spent a few days in Florida on both ends of this trip, running errands and visiting with friends. We even stocked up on some hard-to-find electronics, including a drone.

If we got to see you and spend time with you, thanks for making the time. Sorry to those of you we missed. Maybe you’ll have to come visit us?

music jam in Florida
A music jam in Florida instead of the Caribbean. Brian and our good friend Cliff

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Pawleys Island could be done in one shot, but we broke it up with stop-overs on both ends in Saint Augustine, a beautiful town with even better people! Thanks Cliff and Candace!

And We’re Back

We are back in Cartagena and our time in the US seems so long ago. We’re keeping busy with Sava, and exploring Colombia. If you do find yourself in South Carolina, keep this post handy for some of the fun things to do in Pawleys Island SC.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, scuba diver, cat parent, cyclist, blogger, love the water and exploring new places.

17 thoughts on “Things to Do in Pawleys Island SC”

  1. There are so many islands to choose from in the NC/SC/GA area and trying to decide between them is difficult but Pawleys looks so peaceful! (Unlike the madhouse of Myrtle Beach!) I’ll have to take a weekend trip!

    1. Yes Julia, It’s close to the convenience of Myrtle Beach airport, but fortunately, far from the madness! And still lots to do.

  2. you had me at “Things move slower there” ❤️???? Really wish little escapes like these were within my geographical reach!

  3. I had never heard of Pawleys Island, but it seems to be a very lovely place with many things to do 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  4. This looks like a great place to spend the day, especially if you like to be outdoors a lot of the time. It looks very calm and a nice place to relax for a bit, compared to other touristy destinations!

    1. Pawleys Island looks awesome. I especially like Brookgreen Gardens with nature, art an wildlife together in one place. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Brookgreen is beautiful Anita! And they host seasonal events and change up displays so it’s never the same!

  5. Pawley’s Island looks like my kind of place! So many choices of things to do, no wonder you were so busy!

  6. I notice that you have a problem looking at animals in cages. I do, too. Do you realize, though, that going to a place that has caged animals is still supporting this practice. Simply not looking at them is worse. You know there is a problem and you ignore its existence by looking the other way and doing nothing about it.

    1. Good point Kristy. I always avoid places that keep dolphins in tanks. Everyplace is different though. Some are sanctuaries and others not so much. I disagree that I’m “worse” for not looking. But you’re entitled to your opinion.

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