Wild Dunes Resort, the eastern half of the Isle of Palms, anchors the coast northeast of Charleston the way Kiawah does the southwest: with golf courses, tennis courts and a modicum of exclusivity.
As recently as 1977, the eastern portion of the Isle of Palms was largely vacant and known for just a campground. Then causeways opened the island to development, notably the gated Wild Dunes community.
The look is faux Chautauqua: Victorian-styled, built on 2-by-12 joists and up on stilts. Bright white trim and lattices are everywhere.
Tom Fazio designed the 18-hole Links and Harbor courses; the Wild Dunes Tennis Center has 17 Har-Tru courts (including a stadium court) plus a hard court. There are no crowds on Wild Dunes’ 2 1/2 miles of litter-free, closed-to-the-public beach. And the sand is fine enough to pass through a salt shaker.
Can’t afford to buy here? There’s a 93-room Boardwalk Inn hotel ($219 and up through June; more in July-August). More good news: Many Dunes condo/cottage owners can’t afford to let their houses be empty year-round. Roughly 300 of the 850 or so Wild Dunes properties are leased to vacationers. The Village at Wild Dunes, in the middle of the resort, has about 120 more rentals.
Rates vary. Through June, you can get a three-bedroom home for $2,800-$4,000 per week – more in July-August. (www.wilddunes.com)