Columbia, South Carolina offers a lot of outdoor recreation and fun in the sun. Given the warm climate, you can enjoy Carolina beaches well into the Fall and Winter months.
Although Columbia, SC does not have an ocean beach, there are 10 popular beaches that average a 169-mile or 2-hour and 53-minute drive. These beaches run along the Atlantic coast and stretch from St. Simons Island, Georgia up through the Charleston area and into Carolina Beach, NC.
All 10 of these beaches near Columbia, SC offer something unique and are worth a day trip or weekend getaway.
South Carolina Beaches Nearest to Columbia, SC
The closest ocean beaches to Columbia are within the state of South Carolina. The Charleston-area beaches of Folly and Isle of Palms are the nearest SC beaches at just under a 2.5-hour drive down I-26.
1. Folly Beach, SC
Folly Beach, SC is the closest ocean beach to Columbia, SC at 126 miles away. As such, Folly Beach is the first beach near Columbia SC on our list!
This beach is located on Folly Island and is a laid-back spot that offers one of the most popular surf spots on the east coast. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Folly River, visitors can enjoy an array of beach activities from surfing, kayaking, and boating.
There are plenty of eclectic shops in downtown Folly to explore as well.
Plus, some amazing local food options! After a long day at the beach, walk over to Chico Feo for some fusion tacos, a cold drink and live music on the patio.
Folly Beach is home to the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage, which is a perfect spot to take in some history and other activities such:
- beachside strolls
- wildlife observation
Drive Time from Columbia: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 126 miles
Visitors’ Website for Folly Beach
Vacation Rentals at Folly Beach
2. Isle of Palms, SC
Isle of Palms Beach, SC is the second closest beach at a 129-mile drive from downtown Columbia. Like nearby Folly, it is in the Charleston area and is also a popular destination for locals from Augusta.
The Isle of Palms offers 50 beach access paths to visitors and is 18 miles from downtown Charleston. On the island, the Wild Dunes Resort has a golf course that can be played by the public and a beautiful pier that is fun to walk and relax at.
You can find additional shopping, entertainment, and dining in nearby Mt. Pleasant and the downtown Charleston area.
Drive from Columbia: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 129 miles
Visitors’ Website for Isle of Palms
Vacation Rentals at Isle of Palms
3. Edisto Island Beach, SC
Edisto is perfect for a quieter experience because Edisto Island is not as developed as many of the other South Carolina beaches.
The Town of Edisto Beach provides 37 public access points to the beach along Palmetto Boulevard.
Additionally, there is a 1,255-acre state park that borders the town and provides both camping and hiking trails. You can’t beat the views of the marsh and Southern Lowcountry feel here!
Drive Time from Columbia: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 138 miles
Visitors’ Website for Edisto Beach
Vacation Rentals at Edisto Beach
4. Hilton Head Island, SC
Hilton Head is one of the most popular beach communities in the state and is under a 3-hour drive from Columbia, SC.
You’ll find 8 points of access to public beach property. From the more secluded Alder Lane to Coligny Beach Park’s shops and restaurants, Hilton Head offers a lot of variety and plenty of ocean access for the public.
Hilton Head is known for its great shopping and golf courses. There’s something for the whole family here!
- For something a little different, try taking a camper to one of Hilton Head’s best RV parks.
Additionally, historic downtown Savannah is only 31 miles away for Hilton Head Island. As Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah has a lot worth exploring, such as:
- Amazing restaurants to dine at
- 9 rooftop bars
- Breakfast and Brunch Spots
- 20 golf courses in and around the area
Drive Time from Columbia: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 154 miles
Visitors Website for Hilton Head Island
5. Pawleys Island, SC
Pawleys Island has a long history and is nicknamed “the original beach vacation.” It is a quieter beach, similar to Edisto Island. There are some great local shops and restaurants here that are worth exploring after a day at the beach!
When taking a break from relaxing at the pristine beaches, you can try:
- golfing (9 courses to choose from)
Drive Time from Columbia: 2 hours and 50 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 139 miles
Visitors Website for Pawleys Island
6. Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach is the furthest SC beach from Columbia at almost a 3-hour drive. But if you make the trip, you’ll discover why Myrtle Beach is South Carolina’s most popular beach town.
Myrtle Beach is great for families with younger children since there are so many family-friendly attractions here.
There are three main beaches:
- North Myrtle
This spot is full of ocean activities like jet ski rentals, banana boat trips, and parasailing. Other popular activities include:
- Relaxing spa treatments at these resorts
- Indoor water parks
- Go on a deep sea charter fishing expedition in Murrells Inlet, SC (a 30-minute drive from Myrtle Beach)
- Visit a haunted house
Drive Time from Columbia: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 152 miles
Visitors Website for Myrtle Beach
Vacation Rentals at Myrtle Beach
Georgia Beaches Near Columbia, SC
Georgia beaches average a 3 to 3.5-hour drive from Columbia, SC. The two closest Georgia beaches to Columbia, SC are Tybee Island and St. Simons Island.
7. Tybee Island, GA
Tybee Island is the closest Georgia beach to Columbia, South Carolina. Tybee Island has five main beach areas: the North, Mid, South, Back River, and Little Tybee beaches.
If you want to explore great restaurants or the arts in a historic downtown after hitting up the beach, I recommend Tybee Island since it is only 18 miles from Savannah.
For the golf enthusiast, there are over 20 golf courses near Tybee Island.
Drive Time from Columbia: 3 hours
Distance from Columbia, SC: 177 miles
Vacation Rentals at Tybee Island
8. St. Simons Island, GA
St. Simons is near the Florida border and is almost a 4-hour drive from Columbia. But even though it’s a longer drive, it’s worth visiting.
It is the largest of the barrier islands known as the Golden Isles. These isles are made up of:
- St. Simons Island
- Sea Island
- Little St. Simons Island
- Jekyll Island
Linked is a more detailed guide on the 4 most popular beaches at St. Simons Island.
Drive Time from Columbia: 3 hours and 45 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 239 miles
Vacation Rentals at St. Simons Island
North Carolina Beaches Near Columbia, SC
North Carolina has two beach options that are worth visiting if you’re traveling from Columbia. Oak Island Beach and Carolina Beach average a 217-mile and 3-hour and 20-minute drive from downtown Columbia, SC.
9. Oak Island Beach
Oak Island is the closest North Carolina beach if you’re traveling from Columbia, SC. In addition to the beaches, you’ll find two dog parks on the island.
Drive Time from Columbia: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 215 miles
Visitors’ Website for Oak Island Beach
Vacation Rentals at Oak Island Beach
10. Carolina Beach
Drive Time from Columbia: 3 hours and 25 minutes
Distance from Columbia, SC: 219 miles
Vacation Rentals at Carolina Beach
Don’t forget to bring plenty of sunscreen and a sturdy beach umbrella like this one that’s wind-resistant up to 34 miles per hour.