Skip navigation

Top 20 most frequently asked questions about Pawleys Island answered

Pawleys Island visitors often have questions while they are making plans for their beach vacation and during their stay. Below are answers to the top 20 most frequently asked questions:

1. Is there public beach access on Pawleys island?

Yes, there are nine public beach accesses on the island along Myrtle Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, and Springs Avenue, including the largest free public beach access lot in Georgetown County, located on the south end of Springs Avenue on the island. Parking is free. People can park at beach accesses or along the roads of Pawleys Island. Watch for signs prohibiting parking in some areas and make sure to keep your tires off the pavement. For more information about parking on the island, click here.

Local resident Deb Slack recently found several Pawleys Island Shells, along with others, on the island. (Photo provided by Deb Slack)

2. What is the Pawleys Island Shell?

The Pawleys Island Shell is actually the shell of the Imperial Venus Clam. Although this shell can be found in other areas, it is predominately found — and definitely beloved – on Pawleys Island. Some people say that if you are lucky enough to find a Pawleys Island Shell, you have been “blessed by the island.” For more information, click here.

3. Are there lifeguards on Pawleys Island beach?

No, there are no lifeguards on Pawleys Island, so you swim at your own risk. The main thing to be cautious of are rip tides which move parallel to the shore. Life rings are available at several public beach accesses. For updates about beach conditions click here.

4. Are fireworks allowed on Pawleys Island beach?

No. Fireworks are prohibited everywhere on the Island. To see associated town ordinances, click here.

5. Are there hotels on Pawleys Island?

There are no hotels, but there are two historic inns, the Pelican Inn and the Sea View Inn. In fact, the two inns are the only commercial entities on the island. If vacationers are not staying at one of the inns, they’re likely renting a house or a condominium at Pawleys Pier Village through one of the rental companies that serve the island.

6. Are dogs allowed on the beach?

Yes, dogs are allowed on the beach throughout the year, but they must be on a leash from May 1 to Sept. 30. Other times of year, if you are not using a leash, you must have dogs under voice command. Please also remember you must pick up waste. For more about dogs on the beach, click here.

Peggy Black and her dog, Gus, walk along the edge of the ocean on Pawleys Island. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

7. Can you drink alcohol on Pawleys Island beach?

Yes, but make sure to only use cans. Glass bottles are not allowed, and you can be fined $250 or more per bottle. For more beach rules, click here.

8. What can I do to be courteous to nesting sea turtles?

Sea turtles, mostly Loggerheads, nest on coastal beaches during summer months. Make sure to fill in any holes you dig, refrain from littering, and don’t leave personal belongings, including tents and chairs, on the beach overnight. If you are staying in an oceanfront house or condominium, you should turn outside lights off at night because sea turtles “dig the dark” and it keeps momma turtles from being disoriented as they make their way up the beach to create a nest. For more about protecting sea turtles on Pawleys Island, click here.

9. Is there handicap access on Pawleys Island beach and are there beach wheelchairs for rent?

There is a handicap mat at the beach access on First Street off Myrtle Avenue near the center of the island. There are no beach wheelchairs for rent, but town officials are working to acquire one soon. For more information, click here.

Mike and Beverly Willis take in the view on Pawleys Island beach while using the handicap beach access mat on First Street. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

10. Are motorized vehicles allowed on the beach?

Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the beach, including golf carts and electric bikes. This does not include emergency vehicles or those that are approved by the Chief of Police and Town Administrator. For more about this, click here.

11. Are fires allowed on Pawleys Island?

Yes, fires are allowed if you request and receive a fire permit from the Town of Pawleys Island. Permit rules state that you can only burn charcoal for cooking purposes. The fire must be contained in a sand pit. The person obtaining the permit is responsible for any damages caused by fire. Please direct all questions to the Town Clerk by calling Town Hall at (843) 237-1698.

12. What are the rules for fishing on Pawleys Island?

Anglers are welcome on Pawleys Island and the best places to fish are the North and South causeways to the island, or along the beach. There are also many rental houses that offer creek docks that are perfect for fishing. When you’re fishing at Pawleys Island, a fishing license is a must for everyone who’s 16 and older. If you’re fishing with a charter, all the necessary licenses are included in the price of the trip. Your guide will take you to the best hotspots and let you know everything about the daily limits and other regulations. If you have your own boat, there are three boat ramps on the island. For more information about fishing, click here.

Greg Williams enjoys fishing on the North Causeway on Pawleys Island. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

13. Where can I rent kayaks or paddle boards?

There are several options for renting kayaks, paddle boards, and more. The best bets are Pawleys Kayaks, Surf the Earth, and Pawleys Island Beach Service, all located on the mainland of Pawleys Island.

14. Is there a mayor, a town council, and police on Pawleys Island?

The town government was incorporated in 1985 and is committed to maintaining the laidback lifestyle and ambiance that people love about Pawleys Island. Town officials include Mayor Brian Henry, Town Administrator Daniel Newquist, Town Council members, and Police Chief Mike Fanning. For more about Pawleys Island history, click here. The Town of Pawleys Island is the historic island itself. Mainland Pawleys Island is not part of the town and is unincorporated.

15. Why are there no businesses on the island?

Over the years, some businesses were on the island, including four pavilions (opened at different times) that were music venues, and a few inns to accommodate vacationers. Today the Sea View Inn, built in 1937, is still operating, as is the Pelican Inn, built in 1858. There are no other commercial businesses on the island. When property owners heard talk of large chain hotels considering vacant land on the island, they incorporated as a town in 1985 and passed ordinances forbidding future commercial establishments. The slogan was “Keep Pawleys as it is,” to not spoil the feel of the island and what makes Pawleys Island so special. For more about Pawleys Island history, click here.

16. Why is the mainland also called Pawleys Island?

Yes, this is confusing to many visitors, but it is a historical and cultural convention that has endured over the years.. Although the Town of Pawleys Island is located on a barrier island, the area surrounding the island, known as the mainland, is also called Pawleys Island. To further complicate the issue, the Litchfield and North Litchfield communities have the mailing address of Pawleys Island. Since it originated as a plantation area in the early 18th century, the term “Pawleys Island” was used to describe not only the actual island but also the surrounding mainland and marshland. Over time, as development occurred and the area became more populated, the term “Pawleys Island” continued to be used to refer to the broader region encompassing both the island and the adjacent mainland. For more history about the island, click here.

17. How can I tour the historic district of Pawleys Island?

Touring the historic district of Pawleys Island is easier than ever. Available at the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, 28 Wall Street, Pawleys Island, (in the Litchfield community) and at Pawleys Island Town Hall on the historic island, you can pick up a brochure that highlights houses, buildings and locations in the historic district of the island. Also, a new free smart phone app, called “Hammock Coast,” is available at any app store on your phone. The Pawleys Island tour is narrated by historian and author Lee Brockington. For more about the app, click here.

The Hammock Coast smart phone app guides people on narrated historic tours of Pawleys Island and Georgetown. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

18. Can I rent tents, umbrellas, and chairs for the beach?

Yes, there are several options of businesses that rent tents, umbrellas, and chairs for the beach. Delivery and setup are offered. The best bets are Cabana Boy Beach Services, Seaside Chairs and Umbrellas, and Pawleys Island Beach Service.

19. Why is Pawleys Island known for hammocks?

The Pawleys Island rope hammock, originally designed by Capt. John Ward more than 130 years ago, still soothes and delights all who discover its relaxing comfort. As the first retail store to sell the Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock, The Original Hammock Shop continues the long-standing tradition of only selling rope hammocks hand woven in the Carolinas. To see hammocks handwoven daily, be sure to visit the Weaver’s Shed located next to The Original Hammock Shop, located in the Hammock Shops Village in Pawleys Island.

20. Are there surf lessons or surf camps for kids?

Yes, there are several surf camps and lessons offered for children during summer months. Most of them are through a local surf shop called Surf the Earth. For more information about surf camps, click here. For more about surf lessons, click here.