Top 6 Dog Friendly Beaches in South Carolina

dog friendly beaches south carolina

Looking for dog friendly beaches in South Carolina? South Carolina offers much more than mouth-watering barbecue, thrilling college football rivalries, and state-of-the-art golf courses. An exquisite destination for beach lovers, the Palmetto State coast is home to a smattering of sprawling beaches.

Ahead, we’ll name the top six dog friendly beaches in South Carolina. Places where residents and visitors alike can soak up the sun with their pups.  

Cherry Grove/North Myrtle Beach 

One of the oldest beaches in the Myrtle Beach area, Cherry Grove has a pier jutting nearly 1,000 feet into the ocean. The now-popular fishing spot has faced destruction after several hurricanes. The most recent being Hurricane Ian in 2022. Locals are looking forward to its restoration and improvement in the coming months. 

Dogs are allowed on Cherry Grove Beach and North Myrtle Beach with seasonal restrictions: 

  • 10 AM to 4 PM from May 15 to Labor Day 
  • Any time for the rest of the year

Make sure to always keep a leash (7 feet or less) on your pup. Cherry Grove and North Myrtle Beach have no leash-free areas. If your puppy craves freedom, you’ll be pleased to know that there are dog parks within ten minutes. In nearby Little River, these are perfect for small breeds (less than 25 pounds) and large breeds (over 25 pounds). 

Huntington Beach State Park 

Is your dog the king or queen of its domain? They’ll feel right at home at Huntington Beach State Park. It is one of the rare year-round dog friendly beaches in South Carolina. The state park houses an authentic Spanish-style castle – Atalaya – constructed in the 1930s. Over 300 species of birds soar the skies above Huntington Beach State Park. The freshwater lake also teems with additional species of alligators, turtles, and fish.

Understandably, it is critical to keep dogs on a short leash at all times while exploring here. This is important to protect the animals and preserve the natural landscape. While dogs are allowed on the south end of the beach, they are not allowed entrance into Atalaya or the northern end, which extends from the beach access point to the north parking lot at the jetty. 

Litchfield Beach/North Litchfield Beach 

If your dog is exceptionally well-behaved and obedient to voice commands, consider bringing them to Litchfield Beach, one of the best dog friendly beaches in South Carolina with limited pet restrictions. Close to exciting attractions like Brookgreen Gardens and the renowned Pawleys Island hammock shops, this hidden gem beach is sure to provide a vacation for your family and pup! 

Between 9 AM and 7 PM year-long, all dogs must be on a leash. This is the most popular time for visitors to populate the beach. Dogs can remain off-leash outside those hours, provided they respond to voice commands. Like most SC beaches, the Litchfield Beach area is patrolled by law enforcement officers. Officers may ask pet owners to demonstrate their dog’s obedience. Be mindful of the sand dunes, as well, since dogs and humans are urged to avoid the protected area. 

Our Favorite of the Dog Friendly Beaches: Isle of Palms 

dog friendly beaches isle of palm

Initially inhabited by the Sewee Native American tribe, the Isle of Palms (IOP) is today one of the best family friendly and dog friendly beaches in South Carolina. You’ll find an enthralling row of restaurants, bars, and shops close to the shore. You’ll also find the Windjammer music venue and beach volleyball sand pit. Sand and wave-loving canines are also welcome on Isle of Palms, granted they can follow basic beach guidelines for pets. 

Rules for bringing your dogs to Isle of Palms include: 

  • Dogs can only go off-leash between 5 and 9 AM from April 1 to September 14. 4 PM to 10 AM from September 15 to March 31. 
  • Dogs must be kept on a leash during all other times outside of the above windows.
  • Dog owners must clean up after their pets. They can take advantage of dog bag receptacles located at most public IOP beach access paths. 
  • All dogs who live in or visit IOP must have an up-to-date metal license tag. The tag must indicate rabies vaccination and the veterinarian who provided the vaccine. Owners must have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. 

Kiawah Island Beachwalker Park 

You’ll find Kiawah Island Beachwalker Park at the other end of Charleston. A popular vacation destination for golf enthusiasts and couples seeking a romantic getaway, the premises are sure to please pups of all breeds and ages. Visitors can also take advantage of the many miles of trails that wind through the maritime forests and tidal creeks.

Kiawah Island Beachwalker Park’s dog rules are slightly more relaxed than many of the other best dog friendly beaches in South Carolina. Dogs must be leashed at all times from March 16 to October 31. From November 1 to March 15, they are allowed to be off-leash. That said, pet owners must stay with their pets and maintain a leash while at the park. 

Coligny Beach State Park 

You’ll find one of the best places to play fetch with your beach-loving puppy at Coligny Beach Park on Hilton Head Island. One of the best dog friendly beaches in the southern end of the state, Coligny Beach and Hilton Head Island welcome millions of visitors annually and even include public restrooms. 

Whether or not your dog is allowed on Coligny Beach depends on the time of year:

  • Dogs are not permitted between 10 AM and 5 PM from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day 
  • Dogs are permitted on a leash or under voice control: 
    • Between 10 AM and 5 PM from April 1 through the Thursday before Memorial Day 
    • Between 10 AM and 5 PM from Tuesday after Labor Day through September 30

There is an entirely fenced-in and double-gated dog park on Hilton Head. There, you can allow your dog to run off-leash. Of course, he must not display any signs of aggression toward other dogs. You’ll find the pup haven in Chaplin Community Park. That is the town’s sole dog park. It is located off of William Hilton Parkway between Singleton Beach Road and Burke’s Beach Road. 

Tips For Having The Best Beach Day With Your Dog 

Keep in mind that even the most dog friendly beaches in South Carolina come with associated risks. It’s important to do your research before packing your pup in the car to spend the day there.

  • Monitor your dog for signs of dehydration and heat stroke, which can include vomiting, excessive panting or drooling, and lethargy. SC beaches can exceed temperatures in the 90s and 100s in the heart of summertime. Providing water and a shady space to cool down is important. 
  • Be safe around the ocean, which can overpower your dog with strong currents or rip tides. While shark bites and jellyfish stings are rare, it is important to keep your dog from swimming off-leash or unsupervised. 
  • Show consideration toward other beachgoers. Keep your dog under leash control. Clean up after they use the bathroom. Supervise them around children. Finally, prevent them from barking excessively. 
  • Keep your dog updated on its flea and tick medication. Even the beach can be a popular spot for bug bites. Another nuisance on some dog friendly beaches in South Carolina includes the teeny tiny no-see-ums. Those painful bites cause red, itchy welts (especially around the ankles). 

By following these basic guidelines, you’re ensuring that you, your family, and your dogs have the safest and most comfortable experience on the dog friendly beaches in South Carolina. Surfs up, pup!

For more information about this subject or general questions you can contact:

Courie Dennis with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
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