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“A beach is a beach is a beach,” my husband often says. And then in case anyone doubts what he’s trying to convey, he usually adds, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all.”

He changed his tune this weekend. Playing the part of Mr. Nice Guy, he agreed to visit Folly Beach Friday and Tybee Island Saturday. I convinced him to visit these sandy strands by telling him I needed research for a future “beach book,” and since we were going to Rincon, GA for a family event anyway, it seemed like a good idea to kill two birds with one stone.

Folly Beach was first on my list, especially after reading that its pier is the second longest on the east coast. With great anticipation, we left Charleston after lunch at the Marina Variety Store Restaurant, a favorite of one of my Charleston friends, and headed towards James Island and Folly. The entire drive along Folly Road was awesome. So many interesting looking homes and businesses! Some homes were large and practically palatial in appearance while others were small, quaint, and weatherworn.

Before dead-ending into the pier, we turned left and immediately came up close and personal with locals charging from five to ten dollars for parking. We opted for a $5 spot, the last one available in a large grassy lot between houses.   Excited, we practically ran to the beach to get a glimpse of the famous pier.

Was the sight worth the drive? Absolutely! The breeze, the fascinating mix of people, and the moderate temperature pumped my mood up a notch or two until I was practically borderline euphoric. The 24 foot wide pier extends more than 1045 feet into the Atlantic and was busy with people strolling about and fishermen staring out to sea in hopes of a bite. While there, I learned that several fishing tournaments are held on the Folly Beach Pier (a.k.a. Edwin S. Taylor  Fishing Pier) each year.

After snapping a couple of dozen pictures of the pier and beach, we wandered around the downtown area picking up the eclectic, seaside feel of the area. We then drove to the end of town to get a look at the Morris Island Lighthouse. When I say “end of town,” I’m being literal. When we stopped to ask a realtor putting up Open House signs how to get there, she said, “Turn right at the next street you come to, and then turn right again and keep driving until you can’t drive any farther.”

Five minutes later, we parked and began the trek down a narrow paved road towards the beach. Lined on both sides by lush vegetation, the pavement soon gave way to soft sand. Although we could see the lighthouse in the distance, it wasn’t until we climbed a small hill at the very end of the road that we could see it clearly. Awed, I admired it standing out on the tiny island, but I was equally impressed with the curved sandy beach and huge rocks right in front of us.

We stood gawking for few minutes as we noticed the people scattered along the shore, all reading and relaxing. Vowing to revisit this magical strip of sand at some future point, we reluctantly trudged back through the sand and down the paved road to our car. Minds and souls refreshed, we smiled at the birds flying in V-formation above us, glad we had taken the time to visit both the busy and quiet parts of Folly.

Little did I know what splendid views lay in wait for us at Tybee Beach the next day.

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