Two pirate ships

When you drive around downtown Charleston SC, you can’t help but to be intrigued by all the history and preserved architecture. Driving around Folly Beach SC however, may not give you quite the same euphoria. Perhaps it’s because the vibe is more of a bohemian, artsy, small town. However, the history of Folly Beach dates back to 1696, long before it gained its reputation as “Funky Folly, ” a small, east-coast surf town.

If you take a tour of downtown Charleston, you may hear the lore that the famous pirate Blackbeard plundered ships off Charleston’s harbor and frequented the “Pink House” more often than he probably should. In May of 1718, Blackbeard’s fleets pillaged ten vessels and diverted any other ship from entering or leaving the harbor until Blackbeard received a medical trunk for his crew who were sick with a host of illnesses prevalent among sailors in those days. His crew, among many other pirate crews, were known to sail along Folly Beach before reaching land. He even held some of Charleston’s high ranking citizens as ransom before his demands were met. 

Before it was known as Folly Beach, the barrier islands were called “Coffin Land. ” It was rumored that before the pirates reached the Charleston harbor, they would bury their dead on Coffin Land. They also used these islands to hide “booty” and as a stopping point before voyages. This may be the more “pirate legend ” behind the macabre name, because historical documents have shown that it was actually called Coffin Land because it was maintained by plantation owners by the name of Coffin. The island’s modern day name was derived from the Old English word “folly” which means dense foliage.  Folly Beach continues to recognize the island’s old name by holding an annual 5K run every April during the “Sea and Sand Festival. ” The pirate themed run is called the “Coffin Island 5K” and the best dressed pirate is given an award.

Long after its pirate days, the island was inhabited by the Union Army during the Civil War. It was used as a supply depot and camp for Union soldiers. A privately-owned home on Folly has even collected thousands of artifacts found on their property from the war. Only one battle was fought on the island in the summer of 1863 when the Confederates attacked, mainly looking for useful information rather than to conquer back the island. As the landscape of the island has changed as a result of the past few years of hurricanes hitting Folly Beach (most recently, Hurricane Matthew which unearthed centuries old cannonballs), you can take a walk near Morris Island Lighthouse and find historical structures protruding from the dunes that have just recently been uncovered from the erosion.

The desire to own real estate in this barrier island beach town has grown exponentially as Folly Beach has become a popular beach vacation destination in Charleston.  For buyers looking to own a vacation getaway of their own, or to capitalize on the potential of investing in real estate for positive cash flow, good opportunities to buy still remain. Our investment team is well versed in how to evaluate these various real estate scenarios.

Note: The island is now home to 2,400 full-time and seasonal residents. The locals of Folly Beach embrace its history and show a strong sense of pride in it. Next time you drive around Folly, look for Blackbeard’s “Edward Teach ” flags to remind you of its unique history on our historic coastline. If you’re ready to become a local yourself and experience all the exciting history and incredible surf that Folly has to offer, start searching for properties now.

Interested in Learning More?

Our expert teams - from development, investment, real estate, and property management - have experienced it all and have the insight to help you along the way.

Find Out More