One of the nation's oldest and most historic resort communities, Pawley?s Island was originally populated by rice planters at the beginning of the 18th century. Many of the planters sought summer refuge from the inland river communities out of fear of catching malaria and with the belief that it was much healthier to be near the ocean during the warmer months. From that point forward, Pawley?s Island became known as a retreat destination where leisurely rice planters could enjoy their free time and "merrymaking."
On one of his visits to Pawley?s Island, famed American architect Robert Mills wrote, "The good things of this life are here really enjoyed by the inhabitants in abundance; for the land and the ocean lay their treasures at their feet." In the 1820s Pawley?s Island experienced growth due to increased wealth and leisure time of the planters. The island today retains the atmosphere of brilliant natural beauty enjoyed for leisurely retreat. For most visitors, the salt marsh lying between the island and the mainland is much more than just a physical barrier.
Pawley?s Island is located at the southern most part of South Carolina's beautiful and popular Grand Strand area. Wonderful attractions of this area include the excitement and bustle of Myrtle Beach, the center of activity in the Grand Strand ? with water parks, amusement parks, popular museums, gardens and expansive shopping arenas ? and the lovely coastline restaurants of Murrells Inlet, known as the seafood capital of South Carolina.
Art and nature enthusiasts will enjoy the Brookgreen Sculpture Garden. Over 550 pieces of American sculpture are maintained on display. The site is also a refuge for local wildlife. There are several animal exhibits on-site, including an alligator swamp, otter pond, raptor aviary, and an aviary for Herons, White Ibis and Wood ducks. The Lowcountry trail also offers visitors a close look at more than 2,000 species of plants and 190 species of birds. Brookgreen is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
South Carolina is known for its golf and the Waccamaw Neck is no exception. On the mainland, one may choose from the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, True Blue, the Heritage Club, Litchfield Country Club, The River Club, Willbrook Plantation Golf Club, Pawley?s Plantation Golf and Country Club, The Founder?s Club and Tradition Golf Club. There are many other options within driving distance outside of Pawley?s Island. Most of the courses are public, while others are semi-private. Of note is the Caledonia course, which is on the site of a former rice plantation, later turned nature reserve. The scenery is gorgeous and golfers may spot a variety of local wildlife. They may also catch a glimpse of sails from the boats on the Waccamaw River as they glide by. The Caledonia clubhouse is noteworthy as well. The building is an eye-catching piece of architecture designed after an 18th-century plantation home. Both Caledonia and True Blue are ranked in the best 100 courses in the United States.
Local annual events include an Independence Day Parade, a canoe-kayak race, 5K and 10K runs, home parade, Tastes at Pawley?s, the Pavilion reunion and celebration, and the Pawley?s Island Festival of Music and Art. The home parade features historic homes and fine examples of more modern low country architecture. The Pawley?s Island Festival of Music and Art is held each September and is one of the most extravagant of the community events in honor of Dr. Menton. The festival began in 1991by Dr. Menton with a single program, and has developed into a series of events featuring music from a range of genres, including symphony, jazz, gospel and big band.