Envision a vacation in Isle of Palms, where even the name sounds tropical and exotic. Begin by taking your kayak out of the garage at your vacation rental in a maritime forest and launching it from the Claude M. Blanchard, Jr. Landing. From there, you can kayak over to Cat Island Beach for a picnic and look for shark teeth. Or, maybe you prefer a vacation rental on the beach where you can participate in some stand-up paddleboard yoga. If these ideas sound adventurous, consider this list of the 12 best Isle of Palms vacation rental locations.

1. Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Jetski on the beach
Source: Flickr / skeeze

Isle of Palms has room for you and your little dog, too. Fido can kick up his paws off-leach on Isle of Palm beaches during posted days and times. The rest of the time, he’s still welcome but he must be on leash. You can also find some fun for you and your family at Tidal Wave Water Sports. They offer banana boat rides and wake boarding. Rent boats and wave runners for some independent adventures.

2. Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina

Relaxing at the Beach

Sullivan’s Island packs a lot of charm and hospitality in its three miles of length. Whether you’re kite boarding at breathtaking speed, getting sand in your sandals strolling the beach, or drinking in Civil War history at Fort Sumter, your ideal activity is at your fingertips.

3. Dewees Island, South Carolina

shells on the beach

Even the castaways from Gilligan’s Island would have loved taking the ferry from Isle of Palms to stay on Dewees Island. There are no cars and no traffic lights; there is your family, your comfortable vacation rental, your neighbors, and nature. Learn the basics of crabbing at the crab dock on Monday mornings. Meanwhile, you can swim at the beach, fish at the ferry dock, or look for seashells on the north beach.

4 . Mt Pleasant, South Carolina

Mt. Pleasant
Source: Flickr / Rennett Stowe

Mt. Pleasant is a large suburb of Charleston, full of things to do along the waterfront every day. Then, again, if you’re into things that go bump in the night, maybe the 90 minute ghost tour of the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point is your cup of tea. The nocturnal guided tour aboard the docked WWII aircraft carrier introduces you to her unexplained mysteries, some investigated and reported by the SyFy Channel’s own Ghost Busters.

5. Whitehall Terrace, South Carolina

Sea Kayak Carolina

Whitehall Terrace is dockside to Copahee Sound, where you can enjoy fishing and kayaking. If you want to rent a kayak to keep at your vacation rental for several days, Sea Kayak Carolina delivers it along with life jackets and paddles. When the mood strikes for something off the beaten path, take the kids for a Charleston Pirate Tour. The pirates and their trusty parrots lead you on a walking tour through the French Quarter and spin their tales about the Golden Age of Piracy. The stars of the legends include Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read, along with some true pirate facts.

6. Charleston, South Carolina

Rainbow Row at Charleston

Participate in walking or horse-drawn carriage tours of Charleston to see the elegant French Quarter and the Battery promenade. One of the most photographed sites in the city is Rainbow Row. It’s a series of thirteen pastel-colored houses; the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the country. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, across the Charleston Harbor.

7. North Charleston, North Carolina

Velocity Air Sports
Source: Flickr / randompicsilike122990

North Charleston continues the fascinating studies in world history with its display of the H. L. Hunley. It was the first successful combat submarine, sinking the USS Housatonic in 1864. When the kids are ready to let off some steam, you can shuffle them over to Velocity Air Sports and engage them in some great family activities. The 40,000 square feet of fun include a large trampoline field, a trampoline dodgeball stadium, aerial silks, a flying trapeze, and a ninja obstacle course.

8. Folly Beach, South Carolina

Morris Island Lighthouse

When you get to Folly Beach, you can put the luggage down and shift straight into high gear with a parasailing adventure. Or, if you prefer staying at sea level, windsurfing and kite surfing offer plenty of excitement on the down low. To slow things down a bit, take a leisurely boat tour to visit the Morris Island Lighthouse and climb the stairs with the kids for some great ocean vistas at the top.

9. Wando, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation Mt Pleasant
Source: Wikimedia Commons

There’s a high-tech cafe in the quiet little town of Wando. The Lowco Cafe lets you charge your devices and serves up an hour of free wifi along with your java and sandwiches. You can eat inside, outside, or just drive through. If you take that snack to go, drive over to Boone Hall Plantation in nearby Mt. Pleasant to tour a working farm that began in 1631.

10. Awendaw, South Carolina

Salmon Fish

Fifteen miles north of Charleston, Awendaw quietly hosts a fishing community and a unique outdoor music venue, Awendaw Green. The town is situated partly within the borders of the Francis Marion National Forest and at the edge of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. You can fish in creeks, kayak in the salt marshes, and look for bobcats, turtles, and deer in the wildlife refuge.

11. McClellanville, South Carolina

McClellanville Village Museum
Source: Flickr / mattmangum

History buffs enjoy stepping back in time at the McClellanville Village Museum. The displays and exhibits tell the story of the town dating back to the history of the Native Americans who once populated the area. If the mood strikes you to learn about an American castle, you can tour Atalaya Castle after relaxing in your vacation rental. Archer and Anna Huntington built the castle in Murrells Inlet.

12. Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Beach Waves

From the beaches to the maritime forest to the marshes, animals thrive on Kiawah Island. Some of the animals you may see include raccoons, otters, ospreys, deer, and grey foxes. If you seek respite from the daily grind, you can find your retreat right here where your days can be as full or as quiet as you choose. You can get a great view of the ocean and a river on the west end of the island in Kiawah Beachwalker Park. There is a picnic area with grills, a boardwalk, restrooms, and a handicap-accessible ramp.