A ramshackle resort town with a stretch of dirt-colored sand and a handful of surf breaks: It's almost as if Folly Beach exists to entice those who think the rest of Charleston is a tad too pristine.
We visited on a dreary, humid day at the end of fall. The whole place felt wind-swept and bleary-eyed, as if it had just awoken to the biggest hangover of its life. The streets were quiet; the sky super grey. When we stood at the end of the giant pier and looked out into the sea, the horizon dissolved into fog.
Still, with the surfers and the fins of porpoises making cameos on the waves and the salty smell of long forgotten summer fun, it was beautiful.
Maybe even more than it would have been had it been drenched with sun.
where to go...
If Punky Brewster had an outdoor surf bar it would probably look like Chico Feo, all brightly painted and mismatched and jolly. Order an acai bowl and kombucha on the front porch in the morning; Then sit around in the backyard with a $2 PBR and eat a bowl of tuna poke in the afternoon.
Tropical drinks, dollar bills taped to the walls, and surf videos playing on the outside patio — this local tiki dive makes even the dreariest, swell-less day feel like a vacation. Ask for the vegetarian buffalo "wings" made from cauliflower and order a Painkiller (or two).
Some Charleston friends will turn their noses up at this suggestion, but, as our Uber driver told us, "Everyone secretly loves Taco Boy." Well, they serve pretty okay Mexican food and super strong margaritas, so, yeah! The Folly Beach location has a cheery patio out back and a colorful terrace facing the street in front. People watching, nachos, and drinking = Fun.
While technically not on FB, Bowen's Island is close enough — you have to drive past it to get to and from Folly Beach from Charleston anyway. It's an old school low country fish shack at its best: graffitied walls, super fresh seafood, hush puppies, and gorgeous sunset views over the reed-covered marsh. Be prepared to shuck your own oysters.