12 Fun Things You Didn’t Know about Pawleys Island

Whether you’re a frequent visitor or a newcomer to these sandy shores, there is always something new to learn about our favorite coastal destination.

1. Pawleys Island is a barrier island less than four miles long and about a quarter-mile wide, separated from the mainland by a salt marsh.


2. Several Native American Eastern Siouan tribes inhabited the area, including the Pee Dees, Seewees, Sampits, Santees, Winyahs, and Waccamaw.


3. A small group of Spaniards attempted to settle the area in 1526 but left within a year due to bad weather and attacks from nearby tribes. 


4. Pawleys Island is one of the oldest beach vacation destinations on the East Coast. Rice planters who owned plantations on nearby rivers settled Pawleys Island as a summer retreat in the early 1700s. They knew the rivers were unhealthy for their families, and the seashore was healthier. They would remain on the coast until the first frost in November.


5. Twelve of those planters homes from the late-1700s to mid-1800s still stand in the Pawleys Island historic district, including LaBruce/Lemon House, Nesbit/Norburn House, and the R.F.W. Allston House, all on Myrtle Avenue. 


6. The island was named for European settler Percival Pawley, the first to develop plantations in the region. 


7. Golfers can play at 10 first-rate courses found within five miles of Pawleys Island. 


8. Pawleys Island is dog friendly. Man’s best friend is allowed on Pawleys Island public beach year-round. Owners must have a leash in hand and must pick up after the dogs. 


9. The picturesque setting draws filmmakers. “The Notebook,” starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, filmed at several sites around the area, including Rice Hope/Black River Plantation. “The Patriot,” starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger, filmed scenes at Mansfield Plantation. 


10. To say Pawleys Island is a small town is an understatement. The 2020 census showed the town has a population of 110 year-round residents. 


11. The island is known for hammocks. In the late 1800s, local riverboat captain Joshua John Ward designed a repo hammock to sleep in instead of traditional canvas versions. It’s one of the most popular hammock brands in the country, and his descendants still operate it. 


12. It’s also known for cheese. Its Palmetto Cheese is one of the top makers of pimento cheese, a Southern staple. 


Did any of these little gems take you by surprise? What’s your favorite fun fact about Pawleys Island?