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Folly Beach: The Edge of America

Story and photos by Cynthia Foulk

Just eight miles south of historic downtown Charleston, SC lies Folly Beach, an island steeped rich in American history from the existence of indigenous Native American tribes to the protection of Charleston during the civil war. Folly is a place to change gears in this fast paced world. In 1995 the Robert Scarborough Bridge was completed connecting downtown Charleston and James Island. The “Connector” makes the trip from Folly Beach a quick, fifteen-minute drive to Charleston.

Named for the dense overgrown foliage that once covered it, Folly Beach was once a place where the sick sea travelers were left to die before entering Charleston Harbor so as not to bring disease into the harbor. For that reason it was also know as Coffin Island. Although a slow pace is encouraged here as pointed out by my friend on a sign which read, “Slow down, it’s Folly, 30 mph,” Folly Beach today is definitely a place for the living!

During the day you can enjoy the best surfing and water sports including fishing, crabbing and shrimping or just take it easy relaxing on the pristine beach. Bicycle rentals, charter boat and helicopter tours are offered.

Bottlenose dolphins are plentiful and the best place to view them I discovered was across from the lighthouse as the tides changed around 2:30 p.m. Get your camera ready as hundreds of dolphins jump, play and herd schools of fish closer to shore for feeding time!

The Morris Island lighthouse stands at the northeast tip of the island. The current structure was built in 1876 and once had many buildings, including a grand house for the caretaker. This is the third lighthouse to stand on this spot in the past two hundred plus years. Today it is a structure under attack by the forces of man and nature. It has a damaged foundation and may fall if not stabilized soon. Exposure has allowed it to be invaded by shipworms infesting the timber piles at the base of the tower. Efforts are being made to preserve this deserving piece of history. For more information visit Save the Light, Inc.

Many homes are offered for vacation rentals, lovely bed and breakfast, and a Holiday Inn located at the end of Folly Road beside the Edwin S. Taylor fishing pier. The pier juts 1,045 feet out over the Atlantic and sponsors fishing tournaments and hosts starlight dances throughout the year. The pier offers a breathtaking view of the sunsets daily.

Enjoy one of the best margaritas found anywhere during happy hour for $2.50 at Rita’s Seaside Grille while being warmed by the outside fireplace with live entertainment provided by Miriam Allen on Friday evenings. “An acoustic performer with an impressive stylistic range”—Steve Shanafelt, MOUNTAIN XPRESS.

If fresh seafood is what you crave be sure to check out Crosby’s Fish & Shrimp Company. Open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, Crosby’s has whatever you need in fresh local fish, shrimp and oysters. They also sell live bait, fishing tackle, beer and ice. We took home a pound of their jumbo shrimp and a pound of scallops that were to die for!

As one can tell, Folly Beach has much to offer from the richness of its history and the charm of its beaches and surrounding marshland. I thank my friend for sharing this experience with me and am left dreaming of those sunrises and sunsets over the Atlantic. Have a very Folly Christmas!

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