Pawleys Island

Community Info 

Pawleys Island has an active community with most of its full time residents and vacationers happy to call Pawleys Island home.  It is not only a place to own a home; it is a lifestyle that is enriched by its people, heritage, culture, natural beauty, and location.  There are so many activities and area attractions that it could keep a vacationer here for a lifetime; and just that happens every day.  Many vacationers have been converted to residents when just visiting, because of one or more of the factors above.  In fact, Pawleys Island is considered to be the oldest seaside community in the United States.  It started as a [vacation] spot (c. 1700's) for plantation owners in Charleston to escape the hot summer days & pesky mosquitoes.  Some families who currently live here have a deep connection to the past, and their property in Pawleys Island has been in their family for generations.  On the other hand, many locals once called another place home, and are now considered local after living here for 10 or more years.  So - you may be a local "class 1" ,or a true local - either born & raised if so, or born and raised if tenure is accepted. This is just a silly observation, not to be taken to heart.  Pawleys Island has much diversity and yet stays much the same, giving it that lowcountry lifestyle.  Most recently, new construction is taking place on Highway 17.  Among this construction, restrictions must be met to maintain the ambience of Pawleys Island, and have been meticulousy considered from design to completion.


The weather in Pawleys Island can best be described as year round springtime.  The seasons are mostly mild, and the fact that it is possible to walk on the beach just about every day of the year is a missed opportunity for non residents.  The average highs in each month range from about 58º to 90º.  July is the warmest, & January is the coolest month.  The average low is about 40º.  To see monthly averages, click here. The ocean temperatures range is from about 45º to 85º during the span of the year, and is most comfortable from May to October.  In my experience, in June and July, the temperature of the ocean feels like bathwater, and is most refreshing on a hot humid day.  The ocean breezes definitely help with the balmy like weather on those particularly hot days.  If you have ever been to the west coast, you will notice the difference in the Ocean water temperatures.  It is much more pleasent here in Pawleys.

Vacation Season(s)

The weather plays a strong role in what the locals of Pawleys Island call tourist season.  If you live here, the biggest complaint will be that of tourist traffic.  In all reality, it is not that bad.  There are two types of the tourist season here.  One is the summer vacationers.  This time of year is predicted by the weather in Pawleys Island/Myrtle Beach.  The kids are out of school and families are out for fun, especially on the Beaches.  It seems the closer you get to Myrtle Beach, the busier it is.  There are many public access areas to the beaches along the grand strand area including Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island.  The Beaches stretch about 60 miles from the North Carolina border all the way through Georgetown County.  There is one private beach access in Pawleys Island run by Litchfield By The Sea.  There are subdivisions within Pawleys Island that pay for this access through their Home Owners Association fees.  The subdivisions in Pawleys Island with this access are Litchfield By The Sea, Willbrook Plantation, Inlet Point South, Tradition, River Club, & The Reserve.  The Debordieu Colony (pronounced DebbieDoo) is a privately gated beachside community with true private beach access. There is a new subdivision Assembly Lakes that is planned to also have this private beach access. Litchfield Plantation has its own beach clubhouse access, but parking can still be an issue during the tourist season.

The "other" tourist season is made up mostly of Golfers, and they come to the Myrtle Beach area to PLAY GOLF.  Of course they do other things, but golf is the main objective.  There are over 130 Golf Courses in the Myrtle Beach area.  That being said, Pawleys Island has several that are well known.  Pawleys Plantation has a Jack Nicklaus course and is well known in the golfing community.  A lot of the subdivisions here are situated on golf courses.  To name a few; Debordieu Colony, Heritage Plantation, Willbrook Plantation, Litchfield Country Club, True Blue, Tradition, and more.  Seagull Golf Course is the newest addition to the wonderful and often played courses in Pawleys Island.  It was a project that had been highly anticipated, and there is quite a bit of money in it.  Most people I've spoken with that have played the Seagull have very much enjoyed it.  Come check it out for yourself - it will be worth while if you are a golfer.  Golfing season usually starts in early March and continues all the way to October.  So you see, there is a mix of tourists during some of the year, but the locals don't seem to mind.  It makes it interesting, meeting visitors from all over the world.  From my recollection, I have met visitors from Hong Kong, Ireland, Germany, Canada & all over the United States.


There are many different churches in Pawleys Island and they are active within the community.  Local churches have several different times of worship.  The All Saints Church has been around as early as the 1700's.  There is a historical landmark that you might want to check out as well.  A local legend about "Alice's Grave" is located in this cemetery as well.  There are many opportunities to volunteer within most churches, and some also offer "mommys day out" for younger children a few times a week. 


There are several local establishments that offer great choices and different atmospheres.  Some restaurants close for the winter season, and reopen in March.  From seafood to Italian - a wide selection is offered.  Some of my favorite spots are Pawleys Island Tavern, also known as The PIT, Landolfis, Quigleys,  La Playa Mexican Restaurant, Franks[Outback], Louis's at Sanfords, Nosh, and Applewood Pancake House.  I name these because they are well priced and offer a great menu. I have a family of three, and we can usually eat for around $25.00 to $50.00 at these establishments. Most have a happy hour and offer local and senior discounts.  Some also have special events for members only too!

The PIT is a "classicly shabby" local bar/restaurant with a variety of items on the menu, including seafood and pizzz, offering live music Thursday through Sunday.  The atmosphere here is low key casual and all around fun.  There are dollar bills lined on the walls & ceilings from visitors past.  If you get a chance, check it out.  It is small and unique.  You will know its location by the big green mailbox marked "PIT" off of Highway 17.

Landolfis, Kudzu's bakery and Pawleys Island Bakery are a few local establishments offering great coffee items as well as a  menu of fresh made sandwiches from pulled pork to Italian.  Landolfi's offers wood stove pizzas, and local desserts.  They also bake their bread daily.  If you plan on visiting here, be prepared to wait for an available table.

Quigleys is the only local mircobrewery in Pawleys Island.  They have a great menu.  My favorite is the Mingo Burger (a burger with all the works, plus an egg on top!), Fish Tacos (made from Grouper), and the Reuben on marbled rye bread.  It is also easy to bring your kids here. This establishment has become a favorite hotspot among locals and tourists.  It can be especially busy during their happy hour.

The Applewood Pancake House is great on the weekends, with some of the best pancakes I have had.  They have a breakfast/lunch buffet.  The rush is usually on Sundays, after church services.

Franks is a little more expensive, offering 2 atmospheres; one for fine dining and the other more casual, off of their beautiful patio[outback].  I do love their food and the elegence of it all.  It is a great place to get together with friends, associates, or family.  Reservations are strongly reccommended for either atmosphere, and you may end up waiting for a bit.  It is a popular place with the locals.


There are several subdivision with access to the Waccamaw River.  In the spring/summer, try to visit one or more of these marinas.  They are a great place to not only take in the view, but a wonderful place to socialize with the locals, and have a glass of wine or two.  Communities with marinas will usually host a few events at the marina such as oyster roasts or summer barbeques.  Heritage Plantation, The Reserve, Litchfield Plantation have marinas. 

Schools & Daycares

Pawleys Island offers a great school district within Georgetown County.  Some families prefer to be within this school district and will consider commuting to work in a different area because of this.  The public schools are in great shape, with active sports programs, community involvement, projects, scholastic recognition, and more.  The Waccamaw Middle School was recently built.  The most recent addition to public schools is the Coastal Montessouri Charter school, and operates currently out of the WMS. 

Pawleys Island Private Schools

There are several private schools.  Most have great teacher student ratios.  The enrollment information and ratios obtained by

Pawleys Island Christian Academy was established in 2001, opening its doors to 55 students.  Presently they have 127 students enrolled from preschool through the 8th grade.  They are accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI) and Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS).  Admission, Registration, and Curriculum fees vary depending on the age (grade) of the child, and whether you are a member or non-member.  Pawleys Island Christian Academy follows a schedule similar to the public schools.  Classes start in August and continue through to the beginning of June.  Currently, the registration process is about to start for the 2009-2010 school year.  They are not filled up at this time (as of March 2009), and have not had to turn anyone away.  Typically, once registration begins, it is the preschool classes that fill up first, then the K3 to K4 classes, then K-8th grade.  For the registration process, please return to the PICA website.   This school also offers a summer program open to current students and members.  An after care program is also offered and runs until 5:30pm. 

Pawleys Island Montessouri Day School was founded in 1984.  It became a non-profit organization in 1995 when it was purchased by the parents.  It is now run by an elected school board, and offers programs for children from 18 months to 12 years of age.  Hours of operation are from 8:30am to 2:30pm, with aftercare available before and after school.  Their mission is to provide a safe environment that empowers and challenges children to achieve, and to promote independence, self-confidence and the love of learning. The admission fees from toddlers up to 6 years of age are currently $5400 annually with payment plan options.  From 6 to 12 years of age the tuition fee is $6300 annually.  There is an additional fee for registration and materials fee for all students.  Pawleys Island Montessori School offers Financial Aid for School Tuition through Independent School Management.  You may link to this application through their website.  Of course, you have to be able to qualify for this program in order to take advantage of it.  There are a total of 102 students currently.  Their teacher to student ratio is 4.12.  Of the student enrollment, 48 are designated as prekindergarten.  School Membership Associations include the American Montessori Society.  This school is highly recognized throughout the Pawleys Island Community.

Lowcountry Dayschool  offers combined school levels from pre-kindergarten, to elementary secondary.  The ages range from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, with most of its enrollment being pre-kindergarten.   Currently there are a total of 244 students enrolled.  Their attentive, intellectual, and stimulating programs provide a demanding curriculum.  They are based on a Judeo Christian Heritage, and challenge their students to become resourceful, informed, bold, resilient, and ethical global citizens.  The Lowcountry Dayschool of Pawleys Island is accredited through the SACS and SCISA.  Admission is competitive with certain criteria requirements to be met in order to be accepted.  The Lowcountry Dayschool students performed at an 82% percentile in the 2008 Stanford Achievement Test Scores.  This is over 30% higher than the national  average.  The tuition fees are on a sliding scale and each students situation is independently evaluated.  This scale has changed based on todays current economy.   The school also offers financial aid to students who would not otherwise be able to attend.  Each applicant must first qualify and get approval for this assistance.  28% of its students received some level of financial aid in the 2008-09 school year.  Summer Camp is also offered to the students in the summer months.

A Brief History of Pawleys Island

The earliest known residents of Pawleys Island were the Waccamaw & Winyah Natives.  The term Chicora, meaning "the land" is frequently used by locals and it derived from these first inhabitants.  Their language family was Siouan, one of five Native American families found in the historical region.  The Winyah Tribe has no surviving descendants.  The Waccamaw on the other hand, are an active tribe and are recognized by the state of South Carolina and govern themselves.   The Waccamaw ancestors were river dwellers that occupied the land along the Waccamaw River (including Pawleys Island) from the Winyah Bay near Georgetown, SC all the way to Lake Waccamaw, NC.  They were primarily farmers and had private & community gardens that included pumpkins, squash, melons, and tobacco.  They also domesticated animals including deer & fowl. 

The Waccamaw people may have been one of the first mainland groups visited by the Europeans.  Some of the Waccamaw were carried off into slavery around 1521 via the Spanish by ships.  When the Europeans made contact, it nearly wiped out the population, mostly because of the disease they brought with them, as the Natives had no defense for it.  And, because of the need of the colonists needing labor, they were also forced into slavery.  In 1600, their population was around 900 and in 1715, dropped to about 610.  In 1720, they encountered the colonists in a brief war, accounting for at least 60 deaths or captivity.  When the king of England ordered all owners to free their slaves in 1752, the owners would not have it, because it would have devastated the plantations.  With the order of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, thousands of Native Americans walked off the cotton fields along with the African Americans.  Click here for more info on the Waccamaw

George Pawley was an early settler from the European colonization.  His name, Pawley, was given to the community.  Pawleys Island quickly became a refuge from mosquitoes during the summer because of its natural breezes.  Affluent families would move to summer cottages here to avoid mosquitoes which brought malaria and other sicknesses.  Pawleys Island had occupants mostly of wealthy plantation owners and rice platations.  The Alstons, an historical and affluent family within Pawleys Island area, were visited by George Washington in 1791.  The term arrogantly shabby started because of the cypress sided cottages on the island.  Most of these cottages did not survive Hurrican Hugo, thus allowing for more luxurious homes.  There are 12 residences dating from the late 1700's to mid 1800's that still stand in the historic district.  When staying in Pawleys Island, you will notice the lack of new development.  In general, the locals don't encourage it.  Once of many reasons is preservation of the area.  It remains a quaint and relaxed atmosphere, which is a rare find amont the USA Eastern Coastline. 

Pawleys Island was one of the last areas of the Grand Strand to be developed.  The Grand Strand area itself did not develop into a major area until the early 20th century. There are several historical locations and areas you should check out while in Pawleys Island.  For more information, or a brochure package, call 843-907-8787.