Just to the northeast of Sullivan’s Island is the Isle of Palms (zip code 29451). It was first known as Hunting Island and deeded in 1696 to Thomas Holton as Long Island. The island became a popular refuge from the city heat and tempo of Charleston in the late 19th century. In 1899, J.S. Lawrence purchased Long Island, and with hopes of developing the area into a popular tourist destination, he renamed it the Isle of Palms.
By the 1910s, ferry and trolley service improved access; the 50-room Hotel Seashore, a spacious beach pavilion, and an amusement park with Ferris wheel had been erected; and the island had become a popular convention destination. It was often referred to as “Charleston’s Coney Island.” When the Depression hit and after the resort hotel burned in the late 1930s, convention traffic and development diminished.
Modern Isle of Palms began to take shape in the 1940s after J.C. Long began developing the island, including affordable housing for World War II veterans. Incorporated in 1953, the city of the Isle of Palms has a land area of about 4.5 square miles, and its 2009 population was just under 5,000. Until the early 1990s, the only way to reach the Isle of Palms was by taking SC Highway 703 across both the Ben Sawyer Bridge (from Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island) and the Breach Inlet Bridge (from Sullivan’s Island to the Isle of Palms). In 1993, the Isle of Palms Connector (SC Highway 517) opened to link Rifle Range Road in Mount Pleasant directly with the island city. Rifle Range Road connects with Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant, which has a ramp to Interstate 526, making the commute from the Isle of Palms to Daniel Island, North Charleston and the airport convenient. The drive to downtown Charleston is only about 20 minutes.
Residents and visitors are greeted with an extensive array of amenities, including bike paths, playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts — and of course the gorgeous six miles of beaches. Just like Sullivan’s Island, the western side of the IOP sits on the Intracoastal Waterway. The IOP Marina has a public boat ramp and boat slips and offers customized boating excursions, kayak trips, nature tours and more. Also on the island is the luxurious, gated Wild Dunes resort and golf courses.
Housing on the Isle of Palms starts in the low $400,000s for 1,700-square-feet, waterfront and golf-course-view single-family homes, and the prices increase as the square footage increases. Architectural styles are eclectic, from brick ranches built in the 1960s to elevated homes built in the 1980s. Also available are newer homes built in the 1990s to the 2000s and even some brand new constructions. Prices climb to the multimillion-dollar range for pristine, six-to-ten-bedroom luxury mansions.
The Isle of Palms shares the 29451 zip code with Dewees Island, a private nature-preserve community, accessible only by ferry, with a scant 150 home sites.
Jobs providers on the Isle of Palms mainly service the permanent residential and transient tourist populations of the island, with Wild Dunes Resort one of the largest employers. Restaurants and real estate are the other two big industries on the island.
Take a Video Driving Tour of Isle of Palms, SC
Check Out Another Video I Did On Isle of Palms a Few Years Back
For more information on the Isle of Palms, SC: