Sullivan's Island lies at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. Its strategic position made it a key to the seaward defense of the city of Charleston; it was fortified well into the 20th century. To Charlestonians of the 19th and early 20th century, Sullivan's Island was the beach to which they escaped by boat when the summer heat grew unbearable.
First known as Hunting Island, and then Long Island, developers renamed it the Isle of Palms in 1913 to attract tourists. Development of the 5.6-square-mile island didn't begin in earnest until the 1940s.
Today, the island has a population of more than 4,500. Multi million-dollar homes lin the water, and its Front Beach commercial district bustles with restaurants and shops. Life on the islands offer distinct choices - the upscale energy of the IOP versus the quirkier charms of Sullivan's Island. Residents of both islands benefit from one of the area's finest elementary schools and enjoy easy access to shopping and hospitals etc via the Isle of Palms Connector.
Folly Beach calls itself "The Edge of America," and the seven-mile island certainly seems to take the nickname seriously. The island celebrates its bars, fishing shacks and funky eateries. East Coast surfers swarm to the spot they call "The Washout" whenever an Atlantic swell rolls ashore. The county-run 1,000-foot fishing pier marks the center of the island.