The Beach Zone

August 19, 2007

WHERE TO GO

Fun in Folly Beach

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. / / You don't come here for golf. The nearest links are across the causeways, on the mainland. If you're looking for tennis or spa resorts, you'd do better to head to Kiawah, the next island south. Fancy food? Nothing here tops what you'll find in Charleston.

But Folly Beach is where Charlestonians come to kick back and enjoy a beach experience less hectic than Myrtle. Area residents sometimes say it's more like Key West, Fla. They may be right.

Folly Island is about 10 miles south of downtown Charleston on Route 171. It's a six-mile-by-half-mile barrier island just dangling in the Atlantic.

With roughly 2,100 souls, Folly Beach is a tenth the size of Key West but just as tourist-friendly. What can you do? Well, enjoy the beach and check out the seven blocks of Center Street that pass as downtown.

The popular Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier rivals the surf for visual attention. Its wood planking is 23 feet above the beach. Extending 1,045 feet, it's the second-longest pier on the East Coast. It's 25 feet wide and often lined with anglers. The two-story shelter at its tip offers great views up and down the coast.

It's a half-hour walk from the pier to Folly Beach County Park at the southwest end -- a spit cornered by the sea and the Folly River and pointing toward Kiawah. The vista is of unbridled nature.

The northern end of Folly is more wild.

When the seaside houses stop, you'll soon come to a pocket of activity -- the "Wash" or "Washout" -- a popular place for surfers. This is where the island narrows and where a channel once divided Folly. The water remains strong at times.

High-tide downtown for pedestrian traffic and serious people-watching is Thursday through Sunday.

And keep your eyes peeled when you walk past McKelvin's Surf Shop on Center. Jimmy Buffett is seen here from time to time. The singer is said to have a place on Folly -- a great retreat when life in his Key West, Fla., neighborhood gets a little too hectic.

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[MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE]

IF YOU GO

City of Folly Beach: cityoffollybeach.com

Folly Beach Tourism Center and Visitor Information: follysurfcam.com

BEACH BET

VIRGINIA BEACH

SOUL MUSIC FESTIVAL

Head to Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday and Saturday for some sand, surf and sun at the Soul Music Beachfest. The two-day music festival features about a dozen local and national musical acts, all exploring the African roots of soul, soft rock, Latin, jazz and R&B. There will be food, arts and crafts, and ethnic merchandise for sale and other activities at the festival.

The Soul Music Beachfest takes place at the Beachstreet Seaside Palladium, 24th Street and the ocean, Virginia Beach. Festival hours are 3:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 757-491-7866 or beachstreetusa.com.

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[MATTHEW VENSEL]

WHAT YOU THINK

OUR WEEKLY POLL

This week's question: How will you remember your summer at the beach? To vote, go to baltimoresun.com / baybeach Results from last week's poll. How many times have you visited Ocean City?

More than 50, 22 percent 25 to 50, 15 percent 15 to 24, 11 percent five to 14, 18 percent Fewer than five, 24 percent Never, 11 percent

Note: Percentages are rounded, which may lead to totals slightly smaller or larger than 100 percent.

ONLINE

We want to see your best beach photos. Share them with us online at baltimoresun.com / beachphotos

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