State of the Beach/State Reports/SC/Surfing Areas

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South Carolina Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access98
Water Quality54
Beach Erosion8-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures7 5
Beach Ecology4-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}

Inventory and Perception of Status

There are at least 23 well-known surf spots in South Carolina, which are in fair condition. The WannaSurf website shows 57 surf spots in the state. The most popular and best surf break in the state, "Washout" at Folly Beach, is currently being threatened by plans to expand the Port of Charleston. Traces of toxic sediment have been found in the areas that are planned to be dredged in order to expand and deepen the port, and the plan is to dump these sediments a couple of miles offshore from "Washout." Additional problems could occur as a result of the expansion: runoff from the new parking areas and the pollution from the ship traffic. On a separate issue, homeowners at Folly Beach are trying to limit parking at "Washout." There has been talk of making people park two miles inland and then take a bus to the beach.

In early 2006, officials in Folly Beach credited their beach fill project completed in 2005 with protecting their shoreline. Unfortunately, the beach fill initially prevented waves from breaking at Washout, but by the end of the year enough sand had "washed out" to allow waves to again break and surfers to return to that spot. Folly Beach was again affected by a beach fill project in 2013.

Access is also an issue at some of the beaches further south, where surf breaks are located in gated communities. These areas can only be surfed by people who live there; access is denied to all others. Water quality, beach access, erosion, shoreline structures, and beach fill are all concerns to the coastal communities.

2015 brought two entries in the good news/bad news department. In Myrtle Beach, the City Council was expected to pass an ordinance that would tweak the areas where surfing is allowed – including adding a surfing zone from 78th Avenue North to 81st Avenue North and restricting it between 82nd and 87th avenues North. If passed as expected surfing would be allowed all day in the area from 29th Avenue South to the south city limits; from 34th Avenue North to 47th Avenue North; from 62nd to 68th avenues North; the new zone between 78th and 81st avenues North; and from 87th Avenue North to the north city limits. All surfing will be allowed at the discretion of beach patrol and lifeguards. Read more.

On Hunting Island, local surfers banded together after their surfing spot was wiped out by renewed enforcement of a surfing ban. The surfers started an online petition on asking the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to reconsider its prohibition of surfing along Hunting Island's beaches while lifeguards are present. The rule blocks surfers from surfing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday while the beach's lifeguards are on duty. It affects South Beach, where "95 percent of (local) surfers go to catch waves" because the area provides the best break and minimal obstructions, the petition said. "Some surfers have been surfing there for over 30 years," it read. "Obviously, our small community of surfers is more than disappointed about this decision. This letter is written in hopes that you will reconsider." S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism spokeswoman Dawn Dawson-House said the restriction was not put in place recently and was not enforced in the past because Hunting Island did not have lifeguards. Hilton Head Island has similar regulations prohibiting surfing in designated swimming areas, mainly public beaches such as Coligny Beach, according to Shore Beach Services. Read more.

Recognition by State

Although South Carolina does not officially recognize surfing as an economic, cultural, and recreational resource, there is an annual S.C. Governor’s Cup of Surfing (formerly known as the S.C. State Surfing Championships) held at The Washout on Folly Beach.

The South Carolina chapters of Surfrider report a lack of concern for the coastal environment on the part of the state's legislators. Developers with money and political pull have tremendous influence to get new development projects approved, often at the expense of the coastal environment.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

Charleston Chapter32° 46' 35.64" N, 79° 55' 51.32" W
Grand Strand Chapter33° 41' 20.62" N, 78° 53' 12.10" W

<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Charleston Chapter<html></legend></html> Charleston Chapter Website

Charleston Chapter volunteers have made a tremendous difference in the quality of life for surfers and beach goers over the past several years via removing debris and recycling materials left at the beach, fighting unnecessary coastal developments, and regular outreach and education campaigns to draw attention to these critical issues.

The Charleston Chapter is active on Folly Beach and works to make the sand, waterways, and marshes beautiful, accessible, and thriving.

But what exactly does the Charleston Chapter of Surfrider Foundation do? Plenty.

Every other Tuesday evening, a group meets to clean the trash from the two busiest parts of Folly—the beach under the pier and at the Washout. The group picks up trash and debris in the sand and dunes during their beach sweeps.

They assist the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to recycle monofilament fishing line by emptying and maintaining the recycling stations at the Folly Beach boat landing and the Sol Legare boat landing. Fishing line is collected and sent to DNR who is able to recycle it into plastic fishing lures.

Surfrider works with local schools to do marsh sweeps during the fall (or as they are needed) in order to pick up trash that makes it was from the roadways into the marshes.

The chapter installed more than 20 “Butt Cannons” at beach access points to provide a place for smokers to put their cigarette butts when they leave the beach.

More than 25 “Mutt Mitts” dispensers have been installed and maintained on Folly Beach since 2007, which means pet owners can clean up after their pets when they’re on the beach. Over that time, the chapter has purchased and distributed 246,000 mutt mitts!

The local chapter also supports and participates in national and global Surfrider programs, which supports beaches world wide.

If you want to get involved with Surfrider to help keep Folly Beach pristine and beautiful, visit

You can contact the Charleston Chapter via email at


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Grand Strand Chapter<html></legend></html> Grand Strand Chapter Website

Covering the the whole of the Grand Strand from North Myrtle Beach to Pawleys Island, our chapter works to keep our beaches and waves clean, educate the public, and protect beach access. Check out the chapter's Projects at and then take the next step...get involved!

Check out the Grand Strand Chapter blog at

You can contact the Grand Strand Chapter via email at


South Carolina has joined a growing list of states that offer a Surfrider Foundation license plate!

Information Sources

The summary of surfing areas comes from Surfer Magazine's The Surf Report issues for the state. Surfrider Foundation chapters were surveyed to establish surfing conditions in the state.

Other sources of information on surfing in South Carolina include:

State of the Beach Report: South Carolina
South Carolina Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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