Isle of Palms is one of Charleston’s barrier islands. It’s a great community with fantastic beaches and beautiful homes. If you’re considering moving to the Charleston area, or you’re thinking about buying a beach house or investment property, Isle of Palms (IOP) is definitely a place to consider doing just that.
Isle of Palms Location: On the Atlantic and Close to Mt. Pleasant
The Isle of Palms is a long barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean located to the south/southeast of Mt. Pleasant. It’s connected by bridge to neighboring barrier island Sullivan’s Island, and to Mt. Pleasant by Highway 517 (aka the Isle of Palms Connector).
From the Isle of Palms County Park, which is right off the IOP connector, the average drive times in good traffic are:
- 30-40 minutes to downtown Charleston (more time the further south you go)
- 35 minutes to the Charleston International Airport and Tanger Outlet
- 1 minute to the beach on the Isle of Palms
- 10 minutes to the beach on Sullivan’s Island at Station 22
From the Wild Dunes golf course, which is further up the island and farther from the IOP Connector, the average drive times in good traffic are:
- 30-45 minutes to downtown Charleston (more time the further south you go)
- 40 minutes to the Charleston International Airport and Tanger Outlet
- 1 minute to the beach on the Isle of Palms
- 15 minutes to the beach on Sullivan’s Island at Station 22
Life on Isle of Palms
The beaches are the big draw on this small barrier island. At just 5.44 square miles total, it boasts 7 miles of shoreline with many pristine public beaches. Like Sullivan’s Island, IOP has a number of restrictions, such as the banning of single-use plastic items, to keep the beach clean and protect sea life. On the other side of the island is the Intracoastal Waterway. Unsurprisingly, water sports are a big pastime here, as they are across the Charleston area, with plenty of opportunities for swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, boating, and more.
The island is very visitor friendly, and on Oceanfront Boulevard beachgoers will find plenty of parking, public restrooms, a number of fun restaurants, and shops where you can buy beach gear and souvenirs. Beyond Oceanfront Boulevard, IOP has a shopping center right off the IOP Connector on Palm Boulevard with a full-size grocery store, places to eat, and other shops. Anything that can’t be found on the island is a quick drive away in Mt. Pleasant. There’s also a marina, a small county park, and a recreation department with several facilities including a baseball field, basketball courts, a gymnasium, a picnic shelter, and a playground.
One big difference between IOP and Sullivan’s Island is rentals. While Sullivan’s Island has a larger percentage of year-round residents and is proactive about regulating vacation rental properties, IOP is very visitor- and renter-friendly. This is great for vacationers and for people looking to buy an investment property. (More on that below.) A good number of vacation properties are found inside Wild Dunes, a large resort located at the top of the island with a golf course, restaurants, and event spaces. About 20% of people live in Wild Dunes year-round, while the rest are visitors.
Families moving here should know that IOP doesn’t have any public schools on the island, so children here are zoned for schools on Sullivan’s Island and in Mt. Pleasant. There are some private schools for younger children on the island, however.
Homes: Close to the Water, No Matter Where You Are
As a barrier island that’s approximately a mile wide, all homes on the island are close to the ocean on one side and the intracoastal waterway on the other. Because of that, it’s an exclusive place to live and pricey, too.
The houses here are almost all made of wood, painted in lighter colors, and many are built high on stilts due to flooding concerns. You’ll find many other typical elements of Lowcountry architecture such as split staircases and double porches. Others have a more modern feel to them, with sharp lines and large walls of glass to make the most of the ocean views. Many houses here were made for vacation rentals, with 5, 6, or 7 bedrooms to accommodate multiple families at once, and several of them have pools. These homes make a great investment property or a second/beach house. Typical prices start a little below $1 million and go into the multi-millions.
More affordable are condos with 1-3 bedrooms, which typically sell for somewhere between $600,000 and $1 million depending on size and location.
What Makes the Isle of Palms Special?
The beach, the fun, vacation-like atmosphere, and the beautiful homes are what make IOP special. It’s also a short drive to all that Mt. Pleasant has to offer and not far from downtown Charleston and all its charm.
Looking to Buy on Isle of Palms or in the Charleston, SC Area?
If you’re thinking about buying a place near the beach on Isle of Palms, or somewhere in the greater Charleston area, give me a call. My name is Kenton Selvey and I’m an experienced Realtor with William Means. I help people buy and sell homes on Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Charleston, Daniel Island, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, and beyond, and I’m ready to help you find your dream home. Call me at 843-806-7222 or email me here. I look forward to hearing from you!