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Sullivans Island South Carolina

Life on Sullivan’s Island 

One of Charleston’s 3 barrier islands, Sullivans Island is one of the most highly sought-after, residential beach towns in the country. Known for its casual, relaxed pace of life and a community that takes pride in its safe and inviting atmosphere, it is no wonder that this quaint island attracts families, retirees and summer vacationers alike. And with a history so rich in American past times, Sullivans Island is a distinctive, timeless getaway, nestled between the Atlantic coast and the gorgeous Low Country marsh lands.

Early development of Sullivans Island dates back the late 1600’s when Cap’t Florence O’Sullivan established the island as a major component of coastal defenses. Various legislative acts in the early to mid 1700’s aided in the building of streets and lookout stations, a piece of history that is still preserved today! (Instead of numbered cross streets, they are known as numbered stations) In the late 1700’s, Colonial William Moultrie began construction on the first large scale fortification of the island, and in 1817, this area of the island became a town called Moultrieville (Stations 9-22). But it would be more than 100 years before substantial construction began in an attempt to make Sullivan’s Island more accessible to Charles Town residents.

A post office was established in 1875 and in the 1890’s, Long Island (now known as Isle of Palms) was developed as a “resort” area and the first construction of a trolley line was introduced. It rolled from Mt. Pleasant, through Sullivan’s Island and into Long Island, carrying box cars large enough for furniture and entire households. Before the trolley, those wanting to summer on the island built homes with materials brought over by ferry, but due to the undoubted inconvenience, most preferred The Old Village in Mt. Pleasant.

The trolley’s generating station brought electricity to the entire island and a telephone service followed suit in 1913. The other side of the island – Atlanticville – had formerly been too rustic and dangerous to populate, but with the addition of the trolley, rapid development began and a post office was even built in 1915. By 1920, nearly every dry lot had been populated.

Currently, many of the original homes and structures built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s not only remain, but have been restored and renovated for today’s lifestyle. Station after station, Sullivan’s Island shows us memories of its historic beginnings and triumph through war and weather alike.

Fun History Facts!

  • Edgar Allen Poe was stationed on the island from 1827 to 1828 and Sullivan’s became the setting of his short story, The Gold Bug. Today, one of the island’s small streets is named Goldbug Ave. and one of the neighborhood hot hang out spots is Poe’s Tavern, of course, named after Edgar himself.
  • The lighthouse (built in 1962) that stands at a whopping 140 feet tall boasts an elevator instead of a typical spiral staircase!



Located just southeast of the Charleston peninsula, Sullivan’s can be accessed by bridge – The Ben Sawyer bridge from Mt. Pleasant or Breach Inlet, the small waterway that divides Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms.

As you can see, the streets on the island are laid out in a very systematic, block structure. Each property on the island has a dedicated street to street lot, spanning a 1/2 acre, offering each resident on this cherished community plenty of land with privacy that has become hard to find in typical, tightly built communities of today.


Children who live on the island attend Sullivan’s Island Elementary School. Currently, the school is located in Mt. Pleasant while a new, renovated school is being reconstructed on the west end of the island.  With just 430 children, grades k-5, students receive individual attention and care from teachers and the community is committed to making Sullivan’s Island Elementary the best it can be! For more information on the future construction the new elementary school (that will be located ON THE ISLAND) click here

AMENITIESNancy Sisk Photography

Sullivan’s Island offers a plethora of public activities and venues for everyone to enjoy. A large park, complete with a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields and a nice gazebo span a few acres on the island’s main road, Middle Street. Restaurants are sprinkled along Middle Street as well:

  • Poe’s Tavern – for live music and a famous burger – Casual
  • Home Team Barbeque – for some home grown delicious eats – Casual
  • Taco Mamacita – a fresh-mex, organic good time – Casual
  • High Thyme Cuisine and Cocktails – a laid back, little island bistro – Casual
  • Atlanticville – perfect for a date night for a gourmet meal and live music

Also on the island, there is a small grocery store, a private workout facility, a small country club and various art and this-n-that shops.

Head to the public beach at any of the beach access points (located at each station) and remember to bring your children and your pets, because dogs are welcome! This beach is beautiful and the community has taken pride in protecting their shoreline.


Homes on the island range from island bungalows between $450-700k to beach and marsh front estates anywhere from $1-3m. Historic properties for sale are easy to find on beautiful Sullivans Island and most have been restored beautifully and are in move in condition.