Living Here Guide

Pawleys Island

Kayaks and standup paddle boards race along Pawleys Creek.
Kayaks and standup paddle boards race along Pawleys Creek.

Established | In the early 1700s, the area was settled by rice farmers who established plantations along the Waccamaw River and spent their summers close to the ocean and away from the mosquitoes that spread malaria. The town of Pawleys Island, which is only on the island itself, not any of the mainland, was incorporated in 1986.

Origin of name | Colonial settler George Pawley apparently lent his name to the community, which refers both to the island itself and the surrounding mainland.

What’s grand about it | This beachfront community is unlike any other along the Grand Strand. Business and industry are banned on the island except for a few inns and high-rise condominiums. Instead, this unspoiled stretch of beach is home to about a dozen antebellum weathered cottages that have escaped the wrath of hurricanes. Newer houses, many built after the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, still reflect this community’s Lowcountry architecture laid-back lifestyle. Whether it’s a view of the Atlantic or one of the adjacent creeks, Pawleys Island offers picturesque scenes, crabbing and fishing in the creeks and shelling along its white sandy beach.

What’s new | Redevelopment of an old shopping center on Ocean Highway is nearly complete, resulting in a new grocery store and more restaurants. The biggest changes for the community this year are reconfiguration of Ocean Highway. The medians are being removed from much of the Pawleys stretch and being replaced with turn lanes and additional traffic lights.

Major events | A Fourth of July Parade, the annual Festival of Music and Art, Pawleys Pavilion Reunion which raises funds to benefit Georgetown Habitat for Humanity, and an annual kayak race, also in July.

Best kept secret | Along with its clean beaches and mom-and-pop boutiques, Pawleys mainland offers several public parks and recreation centers for kids and adults alike. Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center, at Parkersville Park, offers fitness classes, community get-togethers and even a climbing wall.

Property tax rate | 202.7 mills, paid to Georgetown County; the town itself has no property tax but operates on accommodations tax.

Numbers to know

Town of Pawleys Island | 321 Myrtle Ave., Pawleys Island, SC 29585, 843-237-1698 or

All mayor and council terms expire in 2015:

Mayor | William “Bill” L. Otis Jr., 843-237-8005 (work)

Mayor pro tem | Mike Adams, 843-237-0394

Councilmember Glennie Tarbox, 843-237-8228

Councilmember Howard Ward, 843-237-8639

Councilmember Sarah Zimmerman, 843-237-7774

Georgetown County Council District 6 | Steve Goggans, P.O. Box 1859, Pawleys Island, 29585, 843-545-3058

Georgetown County Council District 2 | Ron Charlton, P.O. Box 1998, Georgetown, 29442, 843-546-2200