Isle of Palms: In the Low Country the Living is Easy

Written by Bre Humphries
I almost hit the snooze button and sank back into my pillow. Alarm clocks should be banned on vacation, should they not? Instead, a friend and I rose quickly and dressed quietly so as not to wake the other girls. Pouring coffee to go, we slipped out of our condo on Isle of Palms and made the short drive into Mount Pleasant for our picnic & paddle excursion with Nature Adventure Outfitters.
          As soon as our kayaks descended into Shem Creek, I internally applauded my decision to venture out this morning. The day was slightly overcast, offering protection from the rising sun, the heady scent of plough mud infiltrated my senses and the rhythmic circles I made with my paddle brought my body to life. Five minutes into our excursion, we were further awarded when we caught sight of two manatees lollygagging in an empty boat slip barely out of our reach. The next several hours we spent exploring the waters of Charleston harbor and the surrounding marsh, admiring a symphony of birds at Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, picnicking on a barrier island, and losing count of the dolphin sightings. We had come here with our girlfriends for a number of reasons, but these up-close-and-personal natural encounters, so common in the Lowcountry, are what truly set this destination apart.

Resort Life
Back in Isle of Palms, the rest of our group was getting a head start on some sun bathing at Wild Dunes Resort, a 1,600-foot oceanfront property stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway. With an array of accommodations, Wild Dunes is capable of catering to any vacationer’s needs, offering rooms and suites at the full-service Boardwalk Inn, additional rooms and suites at the multi-use Village at Wild Dunes, and one- to seven-bedroom condo and private home rentals throughout the property. Families in particular are drawn to the resort for its Island Adventures recreation program, extreme water sports, bike and walking paths, and numerous pools, but we found it just as well suited for a much-needed girlfriends’ getaway.
To give ourselves a sense of seclusion, we opted for a condo rental a mile away from the center of the action. Here, we enjoyed comfortable accommodations, private beach access and a quiet pool, all an easy beach walk away from resort amenities. When we had enough sunbathing, we took a leisurely stroll along the ocean’s edge to the Grand Pavilion Café and Bar for some tropical libations. The poolside and oceanside eatery features happy hour specials and live entertainment along with a menu of island favorites. Nearby, the Village at Wild Dunes offers fine dining at the Seaside Grill & Lounge, coastal cuisine and cocktails at The Lettered Olive & Lounge, and Hudson’s Market and Dune’s Deli for food on the go, but we headed back to our condo to take advantage of the resort’s Dinner Delivered service. Without bothering to change out of our bathing suits or touch a single appliance in our well-stocked kitchen, we enjoyed a low country boil of fresh shrimp, smoked sausage, corn and potatoes — all we had to provide was the good conversation.
         And since a girlfriends’ getaway would not be complete without sufficient spa opportunities, Wild Dunes delivers with signature services like a Shrimp & Grits facial at the Sand & Sea Salon.

Island Hopping
Outside the resort, Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers additional condo rentals in the Wild Dunes community, as well as throughout Isle of Palms and neighboring Sullivan’s Island. Though Wyndham guests do not have access to all the resort amenities, their well-appointed condos still offer proximity to the area’s resplendent recreation and relaxation, including pool and beach access, golf and tennis courses, wildlife tours, watersports and more.
         For a night out on the island, Morgan Creek Grill at Isle of Palms marina offers casual dining, beach music and unobstructed views of the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Windjammer on Front Beach beckons for late night dancing. On Sullivan’s Island, Poe’s Tavern and Salt at Station 22 are two favorites for great food, drinks and atmosphere, the former featuring indelible burgers named for an American literary legacy and the latter offering Southern staples and a raw bar in a stylish setting.
         Of course, one of the greatest benefits of an Isle of Palms beach getaway is the proximity to the exceptional shopping and dining of Charleston. While you’re there, be sure to make the trip into town for shopping along King Street, speakeasy-style drinks at the Bar at Husk and dinner in the garden at 82 Queen. End your weekend back in Charleston for Sunday Brunch at Magnolia’s — the country fried steak and eggs may sound like a man’s meal, but we found it divine.