South Carolina Picture Project

Pawleys Island – Georgetown County, South Carolina


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Pawleys Island at the southern end of South Carolina’s Grand Strand is a pristine beach retreat with a history of welcoming summer visitors since the eighteenth century. Pawleys Island was named for founder George Pawley, whose father – Percival Pawley, Sr. – received a land grant on the Waccamaw Neck in 1711. With consistent ocean breezes, the island became a safe harbor from summer mosquitoes for nearby rice planters.

Ocean at Pawleys

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Located 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, the island is only half a mile wide with three and a half miles of shoreline. The well-weathered simplicity of this small beach community is cherished by residents and visitors alike, and no commercial buildings are allowed on the island.

Pawleys Island Dock

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In fact, Pawleys Island Town Hall, seen below, is the only public building on the island except for the chapel and a couple of historic inns.

Pawleys Island Town Hall

SCIWAY © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The creek at Pawleys Island is perfect for kayaking, fishing, or watching local wildlife. Explore by boat the channels that wind through the marsh grass (Spartina alterniflora) and watch the Atlantic sand fiddler crabs (Uca pugilator) scurry across the oyster beds as the herons (Ardea herodias) and egrets (Ardea alba) search for food.

Pawleys Creek

V. P. Lempert of Pawleys Island, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Even the beach itself – though heavily populated during the peak summer season – is isolated from the intrusive sounds of life on the mainland. The south side of the island is filled with historic homes and local lore, with tales from rice planting culture to the Legend of the Grey Man.

Pawleys Georgetown County

Dennis L. McElhoe of Fort Mill, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The creek meets the ocean around the bend at the north end of the beach. The inlet here is a popular spot for windsurfing and beach combing, as a great tidal pool forms here during low tide. Views of Litchfield Beach can be seen in the distance, as seen in the photo below.

Pawleys Island Sunrise

Lisa Schneider of Pawleys Island, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Parts of Pawleys Island are listed in the National Register:

The island exemplifies a way of life in its beauty, its setting and its overall landuse. Pawleys is one of the earliest of South Carolina’s summer beach settlements and maintains integrity in the natural relationship of marsh, beach and dune. The unusual number of old houses which have been maintained enhances the natural environment to which they are well adapted. The building style is a variation of West Indian architecture which has been adapted to Pawleys climatic conditions. The original houses on Pawleys are not mansions but summer retreats, sturdily built and large enough to accommodate big families. Designed for the greatest degree of ventilation, with porches on multiple sides and with high brick foundations providing protection against gale tides, many of the 20th century buildings have adhered to the traditional design that has proven well suited to this environment.

Since the plantation families resided at Pawleys from May to November, the houses were equipped with large chimneys and fireplaces. Breezeways attached at the rear of the houses led to the kitchens. Servant’s quarters were usually one or two room cabins equipped with fireplaces. A few remained at the time of nomination. Other structures important to Pawleys are the wooden docks with open “summer houses” extending into the salt water creek and the long boardwalks with “summer houses” which cross the dunes and offer easy access to the beach. The district includes the central portion of the island, an unspecified number of properties ranging from ca. 1780 to post World War I, and includes shoreline and marshland since these are an integral part of the district both historically and geographically.

Historic Photos of Pawleys Island


The North Causeway between the present-day bridge and Highway 17 was established by 1923 making travel to the island easier. The photo below, contributed by the Georgetown Digital Library, includes the following note: “By the mid 1920s, getting to Pawleys Island was easier with the Comanche’s regularly scheduled runs upriver. Passengers often disembarked at Waverly Mills Landing, hired a hack to transport them down the shell-paved Waverly Road and made a stop at Lachicotte’s Store, established by 1923 on the North Causeway between the present day bridge and Highway 17. The postmark for the Waccamaw Neck was changed in 1939 from Waverly Mills to Pawleys Island when [the] post office was moved from Waverly Plantation to Lachicotte’s Store.”

Pawley's Island Bridge

Georgetown Digital Library, 1920 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent


Pawleys Island Info


Address: Myrtle Avenue, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
GPS Coordinates: 33.42951,-79.121782
Website: http://www.townofpawleysisland.com/


Pawleys Island Map




Pawleys Island – Add Info and More Photos


The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Pawleys Island, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


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The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!



4 Comments about Pawleys Island

Peggy Hooper says:
September 26th, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I was so thrilled in 1952 when at last I was old enough to go to The Pavillion with the older Greenville girls!

Kurt BruceNo Gravatar says:
May 3rd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Great picture!

Louis BoneNo Gravatar says:
May 2nd, 2012 at 6:22 pm

What a great picture of sunset on the creek at Pawley’s Island submitted by Cecelia Cook. It makes me want to be there tonight.

Fayellen BoneNo Gravatar says:
May 2nd, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Loved Cecelia Cook’s picture of Pawleys Island!





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