Fripp Island - Best Beach Community of the Year
For many of us, flip flops, the smell of Coppertone and sounds of the waves crashing along the seashore invoke some of the best childhood memories. Oh, how we counted the days until our family’s summer vacation at the beach. The more uncrowded the beach, the better. For the lucky few, the Sea Islands of South Carolina are the perfect place to enjoy the best golf and beach resorts.
After visiting many South Carolina beach communities this year, our conclusion is that it’s hard to find a more beautiful private island in the Lowcountry than Fripp. Completely surrounded by salt water, the southernmost Sea Island is tucked secretly between Hunting Island and Pritchards Island. Development of the 3,000 acre island began back in the mid 1960’s when a narrow bridge was built connecting the island to Beaufort South Carolina. The one lane bridge still remains today. Getting around the 6 mile square island is quite fun because Fripp Island is golf cart friendly. The island is also a popular place to safely bike ride on miles of trails in and around the beachfront homes.
With tides fluctuating as much as 8 feet every day in the Lowcountry, the footprint of the Fripp Island beaches look different all the time. Shallow wading pools, sand bars and sand dunes provide fun natural playgrounds along the 3 miles of private beach. Pastel colored umbrellas and beach chairs contrast beautifully against the bright white sand. Shells found along the beach include lighting welks, lettered olives, sand dollars and unbroken colorful coquina shells. At low tide, the sand becomes harder, making it easier for the longer treks. You can leave the beach gear at home. Fripp’s Beach Club rents umbrellas and chairs, boogie boards, and beach toys.
We’re pretty confident you’ll never forget seeing your first hot pink sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean during your morning beach walk, or a burnt orange sunset on the harbor side. There are so many places on Fripp Island to witness these priceless moments. The Bonito Boathouse at the Marina is a hot spot. The seafood restaurant is a two story building that offers stunning views of the Lowcountry marsh at sunset. The Fripp Marina is also the place to rent a kayak, canoe, standup paddle board or boat for your sunrise/sunset cruise. With very few street lights around the island, plan to be dazzled by millions of stars on a clear summer night. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear owls hooting at the moon and alligators bellow at one of the best beach and golf resorts.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the rich waters are filled with shrimp, blue crabs and native fish. During the summer months, Loggerhead turtles make their way to the South Carolina beach communities to nest and almost 200 species of birdlife have been documented in and around the island. It’s a photographer’s paradise! Fripp Island is one of the rare places in the world to witness bottlenose dolphins strand feeding. Beautiful palmetto palms and live oak trees provide shade and safe habitats for the healthy white tail deer population and native wildlife on the island. Fripp Island is proud of their designation by the National Wildlife Federation as a “Community Wildlife Habitat” in 2013. For those who know it, living on the island is about as close as one can get to living on vacation 365 days a year. One property owner says of the island oasis “Fripp Island is the best of both worlds - a nature preserve and amenities, all wrapped up in one! You feel like you are away from the city, but have everything available if you like.”
As if the beach and wildlife scene isn’t enough to brush a smile upon your face, Fripp Island is home to two golf courses and an active tennis facility. The Ocean Pointe golf course was designed by George Cobb and features several holes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Ocean Creek course designed by PGA Champion Davis Love III and Paul Cowley provides sweeping views of salt water marshes and fresh water lagoons. The Racquet Club has eight Fast-Dry clay courts and two hard courts. Accessing the amenities requires membership. There are three levels of membership with an annual fee depending on the membership level. The one time non-refundable initiation fee is $20,000. This fee is non transferable and non equity.
Fripp Island is a great place to find South Carolina beachfront homes, island cottages and low maintenance condominiums. There are approximately 1,000 homes on the island and over 50% of the owners live on Fripp year round. Surprisingly, approximately 1/3 of the island is still undeveloped, so you can still buy a lot and build a home. Yes, the island does get busier in the summertime and so does the list of fun things for ‘Frippers’ to do!