Getting to Isle of Palms Without a Car
Local bus service in the Charleston area (including Isle of Palms) is provided by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). For route and schedule information, visit: www.ridecarta.com, call (843) 724-7420 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A taxi from Charleston International Airport to Isle of Palms can cost $55-$60 each way.
But you can save money on the return trip. East Cooper Taxi (843) 554-8066) charges approximately $40-$45 from Isle of Palms to the airport, but it is not authorized to pick up passengers at the airport.
Public transportation, although less expensive, can take two hours or more each way.
CARTA’s Route 11 (cost: $1.50) serves the airport, seven days a week. A one-day pass costs $5, and a three day pass costs $11. These passes include all CARTA routes (except express routes), including the Flex Bus to Isle of Palms. Ride at Night CARTA buses cost an extra $.75 with a pass, or a flat fee of $2 per ride.
Route 11 also serves the Charleston Greyhound bus terminal.
Route 10 stops in front of the Amtrak station (Rivers and Morningside Avenues).
Isle of Palms is served by CARTA’s Flex Bus: a door to door service from any fixed route bus stop in Mount Pleasant along CARTA’s Route 40. To use the Flex bus, call (843) 747-0007 and press 1 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, (and 2 evenings and weekends) at least 2 hours before you want to use the service.
From downtown Charleston, transfer at Mount Pleasant Town Center from Route 40 to the Flex Bus. Then, take the Flex Bus to 14th Street and Ocean Blvd.
If you want to stay in downtown Charleston, call CARTA to schedule a Flex Bus pickup at Mount Pleasant Town Center when your route 40 bus is scheduled to arrive. Take the Flex Bus to 14th Street and Ocean Ave. Call CARTA at least two hours before you want to leave the beach. Then take the Flex Bus to Mount Pleasant Town Center, and the 40 downtown.
Enjoying Your Visit to Isle of Palms after You Arrive
Isle of Palms County Park has changing facilities, restrooms, picnic areas, volleyball courts, boardwalks, and (in season) umbrella and beach chair rentals. The sandy family-oriented beach is a great place to enjoy the sun and the ocean. Lifeguards are on duty from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., May-September.
The beach is popular and a good choice for walking or running in either high or low tide. The ocean here is warm and a good place to swim. According to Jared Becknell at the Palms Hotel, the beach at Isle of Palms has won the blue tide award—for many consecutive-years-for having the cleanest beach in South Carolina.
If you want a relaxing weekend at the beach, both the Palms Hotel (843) 886-3003) and Seaside Inn (843-886-7000) are on Ocean Blvd. between 10th and 11th Streets. From either hotel, it’s an easy walk to the beach, restaurants, and several shops. A grocery store is just a few blocks away.
My Favorite Things, a beach shop across from the Palms Hotel, rents bicycles for $20 for 24 hours, or $35 for a week. They will be glad to recommend bike trails and other interesting rides. (No web site, call  886-6387.
If you are staying for any length of time, or it’s simply not a good beach day, consider visiting downtown Charleston. Take the Flex Bus to Mount Pleasant Town Center. Then take Route 40 downtown to the Visitor Center: on Meeting Street between Ann and Johns Streets. While you are downtown, CARTA’s 3 Dash shuttles (Routes 210, 211, and 212) will get you nearly anywhere you want to go.
For More Information
For information about Isle of Palms County Beach and other Charleston County parks, visit www.ccprc.com or call (843) 886-3863.
For local bus information, visit www.ridecarta.com, or call (843) 724-7420. For Flex Bus reservations, call (843) 747-0007, and press 1 (2 evenings and weekends
Steve’s e-book, Car Free at the Beach, spotlights 20 U.S. beaches you can enjoy without driving. Visit http://carfreeamerica.com for details. For information and resources about living and vacationing without a car, visit Steve’s other website: http://carfreeamerica.org. If you have ideas for future Car Free Journey columns, or would be like to be interviewed for a future article, e-mail Steve at email@example.com.