The Folly Beach County Park, located at the west end of the island, has a lot to offer locals and visitors who are looking to spend a nice day at the beach. Amenities, such as chair and umbrella rentals, are readily available for a reasonable rate. For just $25 per day, you can rent two chairs and an umbrella to set up your personal space on the soft sands that lie between the Folly River and the coastal waters of the Atlantic. Surrounded by marsh on one side and a quiet beach on the other, this location is perfect for families who seek solitude.
Kristen Allen, a perky blonde who runs this section of the park, took us on a tour and showed us how the beach has been affected over the years. In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene passed just off the coast, and the swells from the storm demolished most of the established sections of the park. Dunes, staircases leading to the beach, and even buildings were completely wiped away. The beach was flattened and with no sign of any of the previous amenities that had lined this section of the island.
The County Parks Department initiated a plan to recreate the closed area and spent up to $3 million to pump sand back into it. Groins were installed on either end to help secure the fresh beach and keep it from being swept away by the swirling seas during future tropical events. Kristen drove us across the bumpy dunes to see the implemented action and how quick thinking from the Park was able to re-open the beach to the public again in July of 2013.
As we headed back to the office, we stopped by Pelican Watch, a two story building with an open floor on the second level. This building is often rented out for weddings and other parties. The wooden structure holds up to 200 people, and has grills, bathrooms, and picnic tables. The floor on the second level is perfect for a band to set up and guests to dance the night away! The views are incredible, as you can see the lazy river amidst the marsh winding down to where it ultimately joins the ocean.
Lifeguard stations are set up to protect swimmers on which the half-mile stretch of beach the Folly Beach County Park is located. Outdoor showers have been installed for patrons to rinse off at the end of the day. They also have a small retail shop in the snack bar area where you may pick up sunscreen or other knick knacks for the kids. Parking is located just inside the gates, and it’s just a short walk to find the perfect spot to set up your newly rented chairs and umbrella. Local residents can pick up a Gold Pass, which allows free parking throughout the year.
The County Park also controls the Folly Beach Pier, which is located beside the Tides Hotel just off Center Street. The entire structure is under the control of the Parks Department. The Pier 101 Restaurant leases one side in 3-year increments, and often holds events on the pier. Alcohol is not permitted on any of Folly’s beaches. However, drinks purchased from Pier 101 are allowed on the pier itself (not below!). The Park’s shop has an array of clothing and other retail items for purchase. Fishing passes can be purchased by the day or in 10-day increments. Everything you need to “catch the big one” can be purchased or leased, as they have gear, bait and tackle right in the store.
The pier hosts events, such as Shagging on the Pier and other arts activities. Moonlight Mixers are popular with locals. Fishing tournaments are a mainstay for the fishing community and will continue as planned this year. Restrooms and showers are also available to the public. The Folly Beach Park has everything you need to make your visit complete.