Oldest Seaside Resort in America- Pawleys Island

Dear Reader:

I have had to reconcile myself to my weakness of looking over and under items…rather than at them and through them. This is true of one fact about Pawleys Island I should have picked up on.

Pawleys Island has the distinction of being known as the “Oldest Seaside Resort in America!” Now that is amazing. I know we must have ridden by this Welcome Sign numerous times. I am sure I glanced at it…but I didn’t take the time to read the bottom line!


When the first explorers pulled into (what is now known as ) Winyah Bay its earliest known inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah Native-Americans. They called their land ‘Chicora” which simply means “the land.” Chicora is a very popular term still used in the region for seaside cottage names, names of schools and recreational areas.

The Waccamaw got its name from the nearby Waccamaw river- it was referred to by the natives as “coming and going” which influenced their name.

Both of the tribes lived off the land and sea…and their special fondness was for smoked oysters. Today there is evidence of all the “Oyster Roasts” they held by hundreds of  “middens” left behind. ( huge piles of shells from the oysters that were harvested by both tribes.)

There are a few descendants of the Waccamaw tribes today  but the Winyah tribe was completely demolished and now extinct. The fight over territory and trading took its toll over generations, along with spread of diseases and always the dreaded malaria….causing the destruction of the tribes.

Summer tourists started flocking to Pawleys because of its consistent windy conditions that kept mosquitoes away…which in turn kept malaria away.  George Pawley owned the island during the colonial period before selling off tracts of land over time.

President George Washington made several famous stops along Winyah Bay and Georgetown in 1791…while visiting the 13 colonies. He was quite impressed by the sea island cotton acres… along with the seafood delights the region offered.

Hurricane Hugo posed the greatest threat in 1989 as many historical sea island homes, especially along the south inlet area of the beach were swept out to sea.

What makes Pawleys special today is the ban on commercial or industrial building on the island…a few old historic inns were allowed to remain… including the Sea view Inn…but that is it.

For us Ya’s… the nicest thing about Pawleys is its significance to us after ten years of building memories here….everything is quiet and family friendly. Our personal refuge…our “Balm in Gilead.”

So until tomorrow….”If Pawleys is the oldest seaside resort in America…I think we Ya’s need to strive for the oldest tourists to return each year to Pawleys in America.”  🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I remembered to look up yesterday and saw a few branches of a flowering pear tree  blowing in the breeze over the roof.

Happy Valentines Day to one and all! Make sure you eat something sweet today, give something sweet away and most off all…always be sweet. The perfect Valentines Day!








About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Oldest Seaside Resort in America- Pawleys Island

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    We tried to get reservations at the Inn on Pawley for this wkd but they are closed for the season. We stayed at another hotel this summer right on the beach and loved it too. Loved the information anout the island.


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