Pawleys Island
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What took us so long?
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Three GenerationsOne Destination

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Pawleys Island, South Carolina,
Brings the Family Together

Some families are notorious for always being late. Mine is infamous for being impatient. We’re the ones who eat pasta al dente, fidget during a movie’s previews and open presents on Christmas Eve. So, when we couldn’t wait any longer for summer, we decided to join my parents on a spring escape to Pawleys Island.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Beach retreat

Pawley's Island, in South Carolina, is perfect for a family vacation.

“Is it naptime yet?” my husband, Scott, asked, eyeing the hammock on the porch of our rental house. The kids were in one of the bedrooms—surely flipping a coin for the top bunk—and my husband and I were relaxing with my parents on the front porch. They’d done well picking from the dozens of listings—everything from modern beachfront homes with all the bells and whistles to rustic and historic dwellings dating back to the late 1700s. The one thing almost all the properties had in common was being oceanfront. Pawleys Island is only three streets at its widest, so even off-ocean houses were only steps away from the beach.

From our widow’s walk, we had a bird’s-eye view of the island. Even though Pawleys Island was dotted with residences—some once the summer retreats of wealthy plantation owners—it wasn’t nearly as built up as other beach resort areas we had visited on past vacations. The natural beaches seemed untouched, and the salt marshes looked like they were home to a flourishing ecosystem. Our plans were to spend the afternoon getting acquainted with the area up close.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

We rented kayaks—one for Claire, my six-year-old, and me to share, and one for my parents—and paddleboards for Scott and Nick, our eight-year-old.

“Look!” Nick said while pointing his paddle at a turtle swimming a few feet away from him. Claire and I paddled over to see its mottled brown and black shell and wide flippers. Our family went down small tidal creeks, shaded by oak trees covered in Spanish moss, and into a tranquil inlet where we later enjoyed a picnic lunch.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Memorable meal
on the mainland

Cocktails and refreshments on Pawleys Island, South Carolina

The next morning, something strange happened. We all slept in. Normally, we’d be up before the sun. I’d looked forward to catching a Pawleys Island sunrise because I’d read they were absolutely breathtaking. This day, however, I had succumbed to “island time.”

We spent what was left of the morning birdwatching and beachcombing. I watched my dad explain to his grandkids the difference between the various shells on the shore, just as he had with my brothers and me ages ago.

“My souvenir money is burning a hole in my pocket,” my mom said, indicating it was time to venture onto the mainland. An hour later, we were sipping iced tea on the front patio of Rustic Table. Through the windows we could see the restaurant’s well-stocked bar and high-top tables.

The theme of our lunch was fried, albeit with a sophisticated flair. I ordered a cornmeal-fried oyster Caesar salad and the kids got crispy fried chicken livers accompanied by spicy ketchup. Scott tackled the fried flounder perched on a pile of sweet-tea collard greens, and my parents split a fried chicken sandwich. “We want to have room for our Bloody Marys,” they quipped. Rustic Table’s signature cocktail—adorned with skewers of deviled egg, grilled pineapple, pickled okra, shrimp and sausage—was pretty much a meal in a glass.

When Adam Kirby, the chef and co-owner, stopped by to see how we were enjoying our meal, I immediately recognized him from an article I read about his being chosen as one of South Carolina’s four official chef ambassadors for 2017.

Locally designed,
universally known

Pawley's Island, in South Carolina, is where The Hammock Man lives.

After lunch, we crossed Ocean Highway to visit The Hammock Shops Village, Pawleys Island’s premier shopping center. Not to be confused with a strip mall, it’s more of a forested park of oaks and pines with boutiques scattered throughout. The kids immediately attacked the playground while we adults settled into the surrounding hammocks and rocking chairs—Pawleys Islands’ answer to traditional park benches.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Since we were there to shop, and Pawleys Island is the birthplace of the rope hammock, we eventually made our way to meet “The Hammock Man.” The local celebrity’s real name is Marvin Grant, and he started weaving hammocks more than 20 years ago. He’s stepped back on production, but still demonstrates how the hammocks are made to visitors. He graciously took the time to explain the art of hammock weaving and its history on the island. Scott and I went next door to The Original Hammock Shop and ordered a family-sized hammock and my parents did the same. We may be impatient, but we were willing to learn the art of lazy.

Worth the wait

Sea urchin on the beach of Pawleys Island, South Carolina

“Instead of having the hammocks shipped to us when they’re finished, why don’t we just return this summer to pick them up in person?”

My parents thought Scott’s idea was brilliant. I agreed. What was the rush? It was still too cold at home to use them, and the kids would love to come back when it was warm enough to swim. Plus, we could time our trip to coincide with something definitely worth waiting for—a total solar eclipse.

Occurring over the same place on earth about every 400 years, a total solar eclipse is a rare and special astronomical treat. Unlike the more frequent partial eclipses, this natural phenomenon is where the moon covers the entire sun. It can only be viewed along the moon’s shadow—a 10,000-mile-long path touching less than one percent of the Earth’s surface. Pawleys Island is on that path of totality, so on August 21, 2017, its 2 p.m. sun will be completely covered by the moon for nearly 40 seconds.

It seems that some things are worth the wait.

Slow down on Pawleys Island ❯❯