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The Living Faces of Folly
by: Shayne Garcia

No artist can engrave the unique images of Folly Beach with colored brush strokes alone. Not even experts can measure its playful tides and traveling sands with precision. There are thousands of reasons that brandish Folly Beach more like fantasy rather than reality. With all its magnificence and history, crystal-gleaming shorelines, tranquil and violent winds, dancing fishes, and singing waters – Folly, in itself, is a reflection of life at its best.

A 6-mile long barrier island, Folly is a 15-minute drive from downtown Charleston. Its proud facades of the Folly River and Atlantic ocean reveals the true meaning of coastal living. The first inhabitants, an Indian tribe called the Bohickets, niched Folly on the map back in the 1600s. In 1744, Folly was darkly known as the Coffin Land – ships leave the very ill (customarily plague or cholera victims) in Folly before entering Charleston. As they go back to sea journey, they bring on-board the survivors and bury the dead.

Morris Island lighthouse, also one of Folly’s historical fences, was completed in 1876. Being the second lighthouse to be built on the island, it is now completely surrounded by water, 300 yards off shore from Folly beach. In the 1700s, there were in fact 3 islands that stretched out in Folly’s and Sullivan’s 4-mile islands. They were Middle Bay, Morrison Island, and Cummings Point. Because of tidal currents, sand bulks began to build up between openings. This resulted to the 3 islands merging into one. Morrison Island was at the middle of the 3 islands, so the “merged” islands were called singularly as Morris Island. Infrastructure, livelihood, and public utilities were at height in the 1940s. The opening of Ocean Plaza, which tagged 1700 feet of boardwalk, amusement rides, and entertainment, marked the golden years of Folly in the 1960s. Today, more and more tourists including locals get to live the “Folly life.”

Folly Beach boasts a wide array of water activities and beach-friendly sports. Folly is famous among local and international surfers for its annual Wahine Surf Contest every May. Folly beach represents the best waves on the South Carolina Coast. “The Washout,” popularly known as the byproduct of Hurricane Hugo, is considered to be the best surfing area in Folly. Other annual celebrations and events include the Tides of March Festival in March, the Sea and Sand Festival in Spring time, the Folly River Float Frenzy in August, and the Folly Beach Fine Arts in October. Folly also takes on fishing tournaments like a King Mackerel Tournament in The Fishing Pier.

One that sets Folly apart from the others is its rich waters. Wildlife in Folly is very well taken care of. Bottlenose dolphins can be seen everywhere, that you can safely touch and play with them. They can amaze you with how social they are – they can even dive down to more than 1000 feet and jump up to 20 feet from water surface. Kids cheer for dolphins that race after speedboats! These dolphins can chase you around up to 35mph in speed.

Part of Folly’s rich wildlife are sea turtles. Local authorities take the responsibility seriously by providing for the safety of sea turtles that reside in the Folly shores. In fact, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Section makes sure that “turtle watchers” do not disturb Folly wildlife. They keep guard, as well as volunteers, and make sure that turtles are not “used” in any commercial way. People can watch the turtles, from a distance, resting in their nests, laying eggs, and breathtakingly tending for live hatchlings.

The public also loves the one and only Folly Beach County Park. Its 2500 feet of ocean frontage, a 600-feet beach front, swimming areas, picnic area, gift shops, gourmet, and snack foods are all a big plus to a family outing or personal getaway.

With wildlife and the waters alone tell you what Folly Beach is all about. Folly is a living island on its own. It is alive. Its living faces can easily narrate to you the millions of people who enjoy its shores and its waters. As you admire Folly at a glance, you will know that certainly no artist or expert can put Folly on a measure.

There is only one thing that the faces of Folly can leave on your face… A SMILE.

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