Sandlapper Society

Pier Pleasure

There’s something romantic about piers. 

by Kay Gordon  l  photos courtesy CCPRC


Maybe the ambiance lies in the water lapping all around, a gentle breeze rippling through your hair, shore birds gliding in and out, catching magnificent sunsets, relishing a moment or two in a magical place where time stands still. Two piers in the Charleston area offer all that and more, with plenty of activities and events.

Drop a fishing line into the Atlantic Ocean or the Charleston Harbor, dance the night away at a Moonlight Mixer, picnic, stroll, swing, beach walk and just relax. The Folly Beach Pier, stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mount Pleasant Pier, in the middle of Charleston Harbor, offer all kinds of possibilities and fun.

This is the first full year for the Mount Pleasant Pier, which opened in July 2009. The Folly Beach Pier opened in 1995.

The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Town of Mount Pleasant operate the Mount Pleasant Pier, which is part of the town’s Memorial Waterfront Park. The complex includes a playground for children, a Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion, visitors’ center and war memorial. CCPRC manages the pier and its amenities, including rentals, tackle sales and the River Watch Café and Gift Shop.

The concrete pier is 1,250 feet long, stretching out onto the Cooper River in the Charleston Harbor. “Sunsets are gorgeous here right in the middle of the harbor, with a 360-degree view of Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston,” says Eric Couch, pier manager. “There are a number of dances at the end of the pier. They’re all live bands, with a variety of music. You can buy lunch here or bring your own.”

The South Carolina Department of Transportation donated the land to Mount Pleasant, with the understanding that the pier would be open to the public, Couch explains. CCPRC leases the pier and its amenities, and “is family-friendly.

Couch, who was assistant manager of the Folly Beach Pier for 11 years, said the two piers offer the best of all worlds. The Mount Pleasant Pier was built on the foundations of the Grace Memorial Bridge, which was built in the 1920s. The Folly Beach Pier was built in 1995, replacing the pier that burned in the 1970s. CCPRC owns and operates the Folly Beach Pier.

The wooden Folly Beach Pier, which extends 1,045 feet into the ocean, has a gift shop, Locklear’s Beach City Grille restaurant and beach access to Folly Beach. This pier showcases the ocean, while the Mount Pleasant Pier accentuates the harbor. 

Kerry Hanson, manager of the Folly Beach Fishing Pier, said the pier is so popular because “it’s just Folly Beach. We have beautiful views of the sunsets and sunrises from the pier. The dolphins are awesome."

A number of special events are planned for each pier this year, including fishing tournaments and moonlight dancing— “Shaggin’ on the Pier” at the Folly Beach Fishing Pier, and “Shaggin’ on the Cooper” and “Bluegrass Under the Bridge” at Mount Pleasant Pier. The dances are summer favorites and draw hundreds of visitors from throughout the region. “Together, we offer over 20 dances [this season],” Couch said.

If fishing’s your passion, you’ll be in heaven. Fishing tournaments or fishing on your own from the piers can yield a bounty. From both piers, the fish are similar, Couch said. Hanson said the Florida Pompano is one of the most prized catches among the locals. The most popular, Couch asserts, is the blackdrum.

Other common catches include sea trout, sheepshead, king and Spanish mackerel, flounder and more. The largest fish caught so far from the pier was a 100-pound tarpon in August 1996. “Pier fishing is as easy as dropping a line into the water,” Hanson said. “The staff always is available with a helping hand and a few tips.”

The Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier is at 101 East Arctic Avenue, Folly Beach. The Mount Pleasant Pier is at the foot of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, 71 Harry Hallman Boulevard, Mount Pleasant. For current hours, activities and fees, visit ccprc.com or call 843.795.4386. Parking and fishing fees apply at each pier. 

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Veteran writer Kay Gordon lives in Chapin.

This article is sponsored by Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission.

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