State Officials Encourage Beachgoers to Safely Enjoy and Also Protect SC Beaches

Waves hitting an empty beach.

May to October is a busy time for South Carolina beaches, when residents and visitors flock to the coast to enjoy one of South Carolina’s greatest and most beautiful natural attractions. South Carolina’s sandy beaches, dunes, and ocean waters drive a booming coastal tourism economy.

Healthy beaches and dune systems also protect life and property by serving as a first line of defense against coastal storms. The South Carolina beachfront provides important habitat for numerous plant and animal species, some of which are identified as threatened or endangered. Sandy beaches near dune systems provide critical nesting habitat for South Carolina’s state reptile, the loggerhead sea turtle. The state’s beaches also provide essential habitat for shorebirds and seabirds.

DHEC offers a variety of programs to promote healthy beaches and dune systems. The agency’s Keep off the Dunes Program encourages preservation of the state’s dune resources through a collaborative partnership to enhance public awareness of sensitive dune environments. DHEC’s Adopt-a-Beach Program is a voluntary, beach cleanup program designed to keep South Carolina beaches clean and healthy. Residents and tourists visiting the coast can take simple, but important steps to help protect the state’s beaches, dunes, coastal waters, and the species that rely on these critical resources.

While at the beach, DHEC reminds beachgoers to protect their own safety and the safety of others by being aware of potential ocean hazards like rip currents, water quality-related swimming advisories, and other risks.

  • Visit DHEC’s Beach Monitoring webpage or CheckMyBeach webpage to review any long- or short-term swimming advisories due to elevated bacteria levels in ocean waters.
  • DHEC’s SC Beach Guide can be used to find beach access locations and information about seasonal lifeguards, parking, public transit accessibility and more.
  • Pay special attention to local reports about rip currents or other potential risks. Ocean currents present an added threat to safe swimming. Learn about rip currents and other ocean safety tips from the American Red Cross.
  • Be aware of areas that do and don’t have lifeguards on duty, and never leave children unattended near the ocean or any body of water. Review swimming safety tips and guidelines on DHEC’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention webpage.

It’s also advised to avoid swimming in natural waterbodies, whether fresh or salt, if you have an open wound as doing so can increase the risk for infection.

Learn more about DHEC’s role with protecting the coastal environment at scdhec.gov/ocrm, and find important safe swimming guidance on our Water Safety and Drowning Prevention webpage.

Written by the SCDHEC.