Beaufort is a Lowcountry beach city in South Carolina known for its natural beauty and Southern charm. Rich in history, the Beaufort area is a hidden gem and excellent spot for your next vacation. Below, I’ll talk more about six beautiful beaches in Beaufort, SC that offer everything from warm waters to historic sites and scenic views along Carolina’s pristine barrier islands.
Key Takeaway: Harbour Island, Hunting Island Beach, Port Royal, Lands End, Sands Beach, and Hilton Head are the six closest beaches to Beaufort, SC that are all a 10 – 40 minute drive away.
Best Beaches in Beaufort, SC
Beaufort is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation because of its small beach town feel, boutique shopping, and historic sites and homes. Nestled alongside the Beaufort River, there are some amazing things for everyone in the family, from the beach goer and swimmer to the history buff.
And of course, Beaufort has easy access to nearby beaches on the Atlantic coast that are only a short drive away!
There are 6 beautiful beaches near Beaufort, SC that are all under an hour’s drive away.
1. Harbor Island, SC
About Harbor Island: Harbor Island is a private resort island about 15 miles, or a 20-minute drive, from downtown Beaufort. The town itself has a small neighborhood feel and is known for its natural beauty and 3 miles of pristine beaches.
Reasons to Visit: If you’re looking for a resort-style stay, Harbor Island is a great place for you. The island has many amenities for guests to enjoy beyond relaxing on the beach.
If you stay on Harbor Island, you’ll have access to the Beach and Racquet Club, which has amenities like:
- Swimming pools
- A fitness center
- Tennis, basketball, pickleball, and volleyball courts
- A playground for the kids
Fun Fact: Harbor Island is part of the Sea Islands, which is a chain of 100+ barrier islands running up the coastline of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The island is also home to loggerhead turtles and part of a Sea Turtle Nest Protection Program.
2. Hunting Island Beach & State Park
About Hunting Island Beach & State Park: Hunting Island Beach is 17.5 miles, or a 28-minute drive, from Beaufort.
The beach is located within the 5,000-acre Hunting Island State Park, with over 100 campsites available. That makes this a great vacation spot for families that love camping and outdoor adventure!
Reasons to Visit: You’ll have all of your needs covered when you stay at Hunting Island State Park. Along with public beach access, you’ll have access to miles of marsh and forests, a pier for fishing, and more.
Pro tip: you can’t visit Hunting Island without checking out the publicly accessible historic lighthouse with its scenic views! You can climb up 130 feet to an amazing panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and maritime forest .
Best Things to do at Hunting Island State Park:
- Hiking Trails and Outdoor Fun: Explore everything from saltwater lagoons to beautiful magnolia trees and live oaks along 9 different trails
- Picnic tables throughout (as well as plenty of parking areas)
- Historic Hunting Island Lighthouse and the lighthouse gift shop
- Visit the Nature Center, which includes exhibits and live animal exhibits (more at their site)
3. Port Royal
About Port Royal: Port Royal is a small beach town just 5 miles, or a 10-minute drive, from Beaufort. Similar to Beaufort, it is best known for its laid-back feel and rich history.
Reasons to Visit: Port Royal is a great spot for older couples or those who like a quieter beach vacation. Here, you can enjoy peace and quiet in a beautiful natural environment. You can spend your days on the community beach, walking nature trails, or taking in scenic views from the Port Royal Boardwalk and Observation Tower.
The long boardwalk
And if you want more action and entertainment, Port Royal has things like:
- A Dolphin Adventure Tour
- The Port Royal Farmers’ Market
- Fishing Charters for rent
- Annual events like the Soft Shell Crab Festival
4. Lands End Beach
About Lands End Beach: Lands End Beach is 13.5 miles, or a 21-minute drive, from Beaufort. The beach is at the tip of St. Helena Island, and makes for the perfect secluded getaway!
Reasons to Visit: The beach at Lands End is a 1,500-foot stretch of pure paradise. It does not get as much traffic as many other beaches in Beaufort since it is tucked away and a little harder to access. But, that makes this the perfect place to soak up the sun, enjoy nature, go fishing, and relax!
And, if you work up an appetite after a long day at the beach, check out one of Beaufort’s best BBQ restaurants.
5. Sands Beach
About Sands Beach: Sands Beach is 6 miles, or a 14-minute drive, from Beaufort. The beach is open to the public and incredibly easy to access, making this a top spot for tourists staying in Beaufort.
Reasons to Visit: Sands Beach is one of the more family-friendly beaches in Beaufort. The best part is that you can drive right up to the beach and park on the sand! A day at Sands Beach can be spent doing things like:
- Searching for shark teeth (there are a ton of shark’s teeth here!)
- Kite flying
- Having a picnic out of your car
- Swimming or taking a float out on the water
For the Trip: 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.
6. Hilton Head Island Beach
Hilton Head Island is a 45-minute drive from Beaufort, making this one of the closest islands and beaches to Beaufort, SC. This vibrant beach town is a great contrast to the relaxed feel of Beaufort!
About Hilton Head: You’ll find 8 points of access to public beach property at Hilton Head. 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.
Reasons to Visit: In addition to the pristine beaches, Hilton Head has something for the whole family. It’s known for its great shopping and golf courses.
Over the years, I’ve explored many of these, but there’s so much to do. Below are just a few things to checkout.
- Top water activities at Hilton Head Island
- Top Hilton Head Pizza Places
- Local Coffee Shops at HHI
- And something a little different, you could take a camper to one of Hilton Head’s best RV parks!
Other Activities and Sites in Beaufort, SC
In addition to the beautiful, sandy beaches highlighted above. There’s also many wonderful places to explore in downtown Beaufort!
Explore the sites that were featured in the movie Forrest Gump. Linked are some ideas of spots to checkout.
Visit the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which is adjacent to the local marina of Safe Harbor Beaufort. The park is an easy walk and makes for great vacation memory photos!
- Visit the Beaufort History Museum to learn about everything from local Native American tribes to battles during the Civil War.
- The Penn Center, which was one of the first schools for people who had been enslaved.
- John Mark Verdier House
Art Galleries like those at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery, Gullah Geechee Visitor Center, and more.
Visit or stay at the beautiful Beaufort Inn in the historic district of downtown. The inn is within walking distance of historic homes
Go for an adventure with the Beaufort Kayak Tour.
Conclusion to 6 Beautiful Beaches in Beaufort, SC
In short, you can see there are many nice and quiet beaches in Beaufort, SC for your next relaxing beach vacation! For more South Carolina getaway guides and vacation ideas, check out the blogs below:
My Favorite Tools for Planning a Trip
Booking.com. They have great deals and free cancellation usually.
VRBO. I have been both a guest and renter for VRBO. 20+ experiences over the years. All great.
Viator. I’m newer to this, but it’s a great spot to get ideas or discounted tickets.