It’s crazy to be writing about this right now. We went on our Sullivan’s Island beach vacation last week and had clear skies, plenty of sunshine, and fairy gentle seas. Now though, Hurricane Florence is threatening the coast of the Carolinas with Sullivan’s Island being part of the potentially afflicted area. While I’m grateful to see the storm has weakened, a category 2 (at time of publishing this), I know it can still cause some damage, so I’m keeping all of you in it’s path in my thoughts. Stay safe, my friends!
Every year my side of the family tries to plan a trip to take together. In 2017 we went to Dollywood. In 2016 we went to Hilton Head. In 2015 we went to Edisto. This year, we decided on a Sullivan’s Island beach vacation. Sullivan’s Island is a town and an island just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. I have been several times before with friends (though it’s been years), and love the place because it’s a great size town. The island is only 3.3 square miles, it has a beautiful beach, an adorable and cozy “downtown” area (with some notable restaurants!), and a colorful history. It’s also a reasonable driving distance for all of us, so when I found this classic rental house with a pool available just after the end of the busy season, I snatched it up. As with all rentals, I do a lot of research, then cross my fingers and hope for the best. I was grateful that this one turned out to very closely match the online pictures!
While there was a little wear (maybe in need of a little paint here and there), we found the house to be very clean, well-appointed, plenty of room for all of us, and with an unbeatable view. Get the full house tour here. The water truly came right up to the porch during high tide (and about 50 feet out during low tide), which provided us with a constant awe-inspiring view. I’ll bet we commented on it no less than 10 times a day. The girls loved rolling the balls on the pool table and there was even a basket full of legos that provided them with a lot of entertainment, too. It was a great find.
My mom, dad, brother, SIL, and two nieces arrived Wednesday afternoon slightly before the four of us North Carolinians got there, but by 5:00 PM we were all together and more than ready for one of dad’s famous Grey Goose martinis (in wine glasses because who travels with martini glasses? 😉). Immediately we all relaxed into the sound of the ocean off our back porch and we spent the evening sipping, eating Mexican (my mom made this walnut and cauliflower taco meat which was yummy), and chatting on the deck.
Thursday morning the girls wasted no time getting into the pool. It made for a relaxing start to the day to have the girls swimming while the adults ate breakfast burritos (from the How Not to Die cookbook) and sipped tea and coffee poolside. After breakfast, the girls quickly decided it was time to switch to the beach side of the house. With six adults and four kids, the day was busy, but allowed time for trading off duties, so we could all take long beach walks, take turns jumping the waves, building castles, and just spending time relaxing and looking at the water.
With the house right on the beach, it was easy to come in for lunch, snacks, and bathroom breaks- a serious plus when you have a 6 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old, and a two year old. We spent the day like that, until late afternoon when we all cleaned up and met up with Charlotte for a family photo session. I can’t wait to see the pictures when they come back- crossing my fingers we got some framers! After the picture session the kids were beat (ok, we all were), so we came back, cleaned up, ate some local shrimp mom had boiled up, and crashed into bed.
Friday morning we felt up for exploring, so Kris, Cara, David, all the girls, and I headed down island to Fort Moultrie, one of the longest standing forts on the Eastern seaboard. It originally was built as a Revolutionary War defense then switched to a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War. The kids enjoyed running around and exploring the bunkers and dare I say they even got a little out of the small museum on site, too?
Afterwards we met up with Mom and Dad at Beardcats Sweet Shop, a highly-recommended gelato and coffee spot. The idea was to kick off the celebration for Hailey’s birthday week (she turns SEVEN on Saturday). I am thrilled to say that Beardcats over-delivered. Their service, gelato, food presentation, and service were out of this world! I highly recommend it.
The kids made up their minds quickly while the adults sampled and contemplated, but soon we took up half of the small shop, all happy with our choices. I went with the olive oil and sea salt variety after the lady behind the counter swore it was their best flavor and she nailed it. It was creamy and sweet with a sprinkle of salt for contrast- delicious! We all sang happy birthday to Hailey and I loved watching her face- lips pressed tight into a smile with her eyes glittering- loving the attention, but not quite wanting to admit it.
From there we went back to the house and soaked up some time sitting on the porch, relaxing, and getting ready for an early dinner out. We had reservations at The Obstinate Daughter, but feared it would be too nice a place for tired kids so we switched our plans to visit The Boathouse located just over the bridge on Isle of Palms instead.
It ended up working out for the best. We were given two tables in an outside nook that worked beautifully for containing the children. We got our seafood fix with oysters to start, then fried shrimp for the kids, and a medley of poached shrimp, scallops, and lobster for me. The food was fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must visit if you happen to be in town. The Arnold Palmer with Firefly vodka was quite refreshing though!
After dinner we walked just outside of the restaurant to the boardwalk overlooking an inlet. Not only was the sky showing off with all sorts of bright colors, there were dophins! We must have sat and watched the dolphins jumping for a good 20 minutes. It had cooled off and it felt like that perfect beach vacation memory.
When the sun was down, we headed back to the house to unleash the glowsticks Mom and I had brought with us. My brother joked that it was the kids’ first rave as they dressed themselves in neon necklaces and bracelets and ran around the beach chasing each other with light up butterfly wands. We sang endless rounds of Pop See Ko (not familiar with that song? Check it out here! You’re welcome and I’m sorry 😉) and one memory I’ll remember is how Lacey Mac (my adorable 2 year old niece) would keep walking up to me and saying “Ann Bwiney, you ready?!” It was a fun way to end the night!
Saturday was our last day and we made the most of it. In the morning we made friends with a local fisherman that was set up on the beach. He was so friendly and showed the kids how to cast a net, pull in the bait fish, pick them up, and put them in a bucket. He showed them crabs he caught and how to hold them. This entertained Kaitlyn all morning and the other girls for a while before the decided to opt for playing in the ocean instead.
My mom, Cara, and I took the girls for ice cream after lunch because… vacation. Chills 360, a roll-up ice cream place, had been recommended to me so we decided to check it out. The owner was incredibly personable and kind and really made it a fun experience instead of just a sweet treat. The girls thought it was the coolest to watch him write their names with caramel and then scrape the ice cream into rolls in their cups. They also didn’t mind the fact that it came in one size only, with PLENTY of toppings!
The afternoon of our last day was wonderfully relaxed. We turned on college football and spent time alternating between calling the dawgs (to a great win over South Carolina!) and jumping waves with the kids.
We had a couple beers, tried to eat up the rest of the fridge food (we failed miserably, yet still ordered pizza for dinner), soaked in the views, and ended the day with a skinny dip in the pool (no worries- just the kiddos).
Sunday morning we all packed up, gave each other big hugs, and agreed that the few days flew by way too quickly. We all parted ways, but I told David I couldn’t leave without trying The Obstinate Daughter that I had heard so much about. So we showed up right when they opened at 10:00 and they said the could squeeze us in for brunch (FYI: reservations are highly recommended).
We were seated in a corner booth and proceeded to devour our brunch. Kaitlyn knew exactly what she wanted- the cinnamon roll of course! Hailey went for the yogurt with granola and fruit. David and I split the roasted beet salad over ricotta, the eggs in purgatory and a shiitake mushroom pizza with an egg. The food was out of this world! So delicious! The bloody Mary left a little to be desired for me (but I prefer it slightly thicker and definitely spicier), but overall the experience, from service to food, was top notch. Being a food-lover, I’m so glad we didn’t skip this gem!
With full stomachs, we headed home with sun-kissed shoulders, overtired kids, and more great family memories to tuck away. Sullivan’s Island, you are a pretty special spot; thanks for the wonderful time!