Choosing a Beach Vacation in the Carolinas

The Carolinas for many people are the best of all worlds. At any given place, you’re typically no longer than a half-day’s drive from both the mountains and the beach. While most of the U.S. is getting back into the normal routine as fall is around the corner, now is one of the best times of year to hit the beaches of the Carolinas since the crowds are down, plus the heat and humidity is much less, making for a more pleasant trip. So how do you choose where to spend a beach vacation in North Carolina or South Carolina?

North and South Carolina feature some of the best beaches in the U.S. Many highly ranked islands and resorts can be found in the Carolinas. It’s often not enough to narrow down a vacation to just the Carolina beaches, as each is unique in their own way and offer different experiences. Do you want an all-inclusive vacation? Are you more of a laid-back seaside beach town kind of traveler? Do you need a beach city that has plenty of entertainment for the entire family? These are all questions that need to be answered when choosing where to spend your beach vacation in North Carolina or South Carolina.

If you’re the type of traveler that likes the laid-back, small seaside town with a beachfront cottage, then your best options are usually going to be in North Carolina. The North Carolina coastline has made a name for itself because of its quaint seaside towns. Many of these beaches and islands are lined with beach homes, although the towns themselves may only consist of a grocery store, a few seafood restaurants and a couple stoplights. The crown jewel of the North Carolina coastline is the outer banks. The 200-mile stretch of barrier islands features long sandy beaches and doesn’t have the same commercialism that so many other beaches do. The central to northern end of the outer banks is usually the choice of many vacationers with Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk, both which offer more historical attractions than many of North Carolina’s other beaches. The Kitty Hawk area is a little more commercialized, as it includes many more restaurants, as well as shopping opportunities, but not the same commercialization and crowds that you would find at Myrtle Beach.

Travelers who prefer bigger beach towns and the elements that come with them, will probably prefer South Carolina. The two most popular beach destinations are Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach is more popular with younger crowds, as it features much more entertainment and nightlife that caters to teenagers and singles, although many older couples and families own timeshares or take a family vacation every summer to the Greater Myrtle Beach area. Charleston is one of the gems of the south, with its historic downtown cobblestone street, horse-drawn carriages and character that is unlike any other city in the Carolinas. Families and travelers who like cities that offer plenty of things to do will probably enjoy Charleston the best. It offers the widest assortment of accommodations as well, offering beach homes, luxury hotels, historic inns and resorts.

My personal favorite is Charleston. It’s the full package with its offerings for all types of people. Although many of the beaches along the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline cater to a certain type of traveler, the greater Charleston area caters to all types. It even offers inclusive resorts, including Wild Dunes and Kiawah Island Resort.

Photo courtesy of Kiawah Island Resort.