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The city of Isle of Palms is a short 20-minute drive from Charleston in South Carolina, and visitors who go there often wish they want to stay for good. The barrier island is surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway, the Atlantic Ocean, and a salt marsh, and offers residents plenty of things to do. An Isle of Palms real estate property is a good and rewarding investment for those looking to have a vacation home and those who want to move to a peaceful and picturesque city away from the skyscrapers and pollution in more urbanized locations.
A Short History
The first inhabitants of the island were the Seewee Indians before the English settlers came. Revolutionary and Civil War battles were fought on the island, adding to its historical value. By the late 19th century, the island—which was named Hunting Island and then Long Island—became popular as a vacation spot for residents from nearby towns. In 1899 the island was bought by J.S. Lawrence, who named it Isle of Palms due to its pleasant, semi-tropical climate and charming surroundings. Seven years later, a hotel with 50 rooms was built, attracting more tourists to the area.
In 1912, a beach pavilion and an amusement park were built on the island. To accommodate more visitors and provide ease of transportation, a trolley line was built from the mainland’s Mount Pleasant area to the Isle of Palms through Sullivan’s Island. The Grace Memorial Bridge was built in 1929 between Mount Pleasant and Charleston to enable automobiles access to the island.
A developer named J.C. Long purchased most of the island in the mid-1940s, and soon roads and low-cost housing for World War II veterans were built. The famous Wild Dunes Beach and Racquet Club was established in 1975.
E. Lee Spence, an underwater archaeologist, discovered many shipwrecks along the island’s shores in the 1960s. With the help of residents George Campsen and Wally Shaffer, he discovered the wrecks of blockade ships used during the Civil War, such as the Mary Bowers, Rattlesnake, Norseman, Georgiana, and Constance. The discoveries resulted in the passage of the state’s Underwater Antiquities Act, which allowed the archaeological salvaging of shipwrecks for study and preservation.
With seven miles of sandy beach, Isle of Palms is a beach lover’s paradise. Vacationers and residents can enjoy bodysurfing, volleyball, crabbing, and shrimping. Those who love sailing can schedule for boat rentals at the marina, or go fishing for tarpon and redfish. The beach has been noted by the Clean Beaches Council and awarded a Blue Wave Season Certification, in recognition of its well-managed conditions and care for the environment.
Runners from all over the world can also participate in the annual 5k Beach Run, held in July. The island also has its own 4th of July fireworks celebration. For those who would rather walk (and occasionally run), there is a connector run/walk event every October. Sand sculpture artists are invited to join the Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Contest, held every June.
In December, the island celebrates the holiday season with its annual Tree Lighting ceremony, Santa Claus visits, face painting, and Christmas parties. Music aficionados will love the month of February, when the Lowcountry Blues Bash comes to town and other areas in nearby Charleston. Nature lovers will find peace at the Isle of Palms County Park, among other areas maintained by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.
Whether you’re looking for a place to have your family’s vacation, or perhaps considering moving to South Carolina for good, Isle of Palms is definitely a place to consider.