The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) is sharing tips with the public to help make visits to the agency’s three popular beach parks as enjoyable as possible this summer. CCPRC operates Folly Beach County Park (FBCP) on West Ashley Avenue, Isle of Palms County Park (IOPCP) on 14th Avenue, and Kiawah Beachwalker Park (KBP) on Beachwalker Drive, all three of which are seasonally lifeguarded ocean access properties that offer a variety of amenities for guests.
Time your Visit
CCPRC recently expanded the hours of the beach parks to allow visitors more time to enjoy these facilities. During the summer, all three parks are now open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Weekends, holidays and some Fridays are the busiest timeframes for beach park visitation, particularly from 9 a.m. to between 3 and 5 p.m.
Be Aware of Parking Capacity
All three county beach parks have a limited number of parking spaces, and CCPRC recommends checking up on parking availability before traveling to the beach parks. The public is encouraged to sign up for the “Stay Notified” feature at CharlestonCountyParks.com to receive beach parking email alerts.
· KBP has 150 parking spots. Per a Town of Kiawah ordinance, visitors may not park or wait along the roadside outside the gate, nor park in neighboring businesses. The Charleston County Sheriff’s office turns away traffic at the gate when the park is full.
· IOPCP offers 375 parking spots. When the parking lot becomes full, police allow up to about 20 vehicles to wait in line for spaces to open up. Once the turn lane outside the park is full, police direct vehicles to move to other parking areas not run by CCPRC. Visitors should familiarize themselves with Isle of Palms parking ordinances, especially in the residential areas; parking ordinance information is available at the city’s website at IOP.net. When exiting the park, be prepared to wait in traffic due to limited space on the island’s roadways, particularly on crowded beach days or when stormy weather appears suddenly.
· FBCP has 225 parking spots. When the lot becomes full, visitors can select other parking lots in the area. Patrons should be aware of area parking ordinances to avoid being towed or ticketed; details are available on the city’s website, CityofFollyBeach.com.
Follow Safety Tips
· Watch your children at all times. CCPRC also recommends parents take note of what their children are wearing in case they become lost. In the event a child is lost, park staff will handle the matter with the highest priority, obtain the child’s description, and notify staff to assist with the search until the child is found and reunited with their family.
· Swim in lifeguarded areas. Lifeguards are on duty at the beach parks 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekends in May, and daily starting May 27.
· Observe lifeguard flags. A yellow flag means “Use Caution” due to rough waters or possible dangerous sea life. A red flag means the swimming area is closed due to dangerous surf, sea life, severe storms or lightning. A purple flag means the presence of “Sea Pests,” a higher than normal number of jellyfish, stingrays and/or Portuguese man o’ war in the water (not intended to notify the presence of sharks).
· Watch for rip currents and hazardous water conditions at all times. Watch for hidden deep spots, which can be caused by wave action. In the event you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current and then swim to shore.
Other Policies to be aware of
· Pet policies on the islands: There are no dogs allowed on Folly Beach May 1- Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Kiawah and Isle of Palms do allow pets on the beach as long as they are leashed, cleaned up after, and under control at all times.
· Alcohol policies: Alcoholic beverages are not allowed at any CCPRC beach parks.
Take Advantage of Park Amenities
In addition to lifeguards, CCPRC’s beach parks provide many great seasonal amenities including restrooms, changing areas, showers, snack bars, retail areas with beach necessities, beach chair and umbrella rentals, picnic areas, and more to make families’ beach visits more enjoyable.
A more detailed list of safety tips for the beach parks is available at CharlestonCountyParks.com/BeachTips, and visitors can also sign up for the Stay Notified feature here to receive email alerts when parking lots are full. For details on CCPRC’s beach parks, including directions, fees, amenities available at each location and more, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com or call 843-795-4386.