Isle of Palms is located in Charleston County, South Carolina, to the East of Mount Pleasant and directly Northeast of Sullivans Island. Isle of Palms is a narrow barrier island with the Atlantic on one side and separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway.
Isle of Palms remained a remote, sparsely populated vacation spot until the early 20th century. A 50-room hotel opened in 1906, followed in 1912 by a beach pavilion and amusement park.
First known as Hunting Island, and then Long Island, developers renamed is the Isle of Palms in 1913 to attract tourists. Development of the 5.6 square mile island didn't begin in earnest until the 1940's.
The boom started in 1944 with the purchase of 1,300 acres by The Beach Co., which laid out roads and began building a mixture of vacation and affordable housing. The Ben Sawyer bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Sullivan's Island completed the Charletson-to-IOP automobile link in 1945 and more growth followed.
By the 1970's, developers turned their eyes toward a 1,600-acre tract and began construction of what is today the gated Wild Dunes Resort. This exclusive community features two golf courses, extensive tennis facilities and a system of walking and bicycling trails.
Hurricane Hugo destroyed 95% of the Isle Of Palm's buildings in 1989 and the influx of insurance cash led to a burst of luxurious gentrification, Today, the island has a population of more than 4,500, multi-million-dollar homes line the water and its Front Beach commercial district bustles with restaurants and shops.
The Isle of Palms Windjammer Lounge is a classic beachfront bar and music venue, and the annual Polar Bear Swim on Sullivan's Island, which draws thousands of high-spirited bathers every New Year's Day, originates at Dunleavey's Pub in the island's tiny downtown.
Life on the islands offer distinct choices for those who can afford them - the upscale energy of the Isle of Palms versus the quirkier charms of Sullivan's Island. Residents of both islands benefit from one of the state's finest elementary schools, enjoy easy access to shopping via the Isle of Palms Connector and can often be spotted tooling around in their ubiquitous electric golf carts.
Isle of Palms is an affluent community of both vacation home owners and year-round residents, with large beachfront homes, resorts, and local restaurants. Beach volleyball is popular in the summer, and the "Windjammer" club hosts several tournaments throughout the year.
The Isle of Palms is also home to Wild Dunes, an oceanfront resort. It is comprised of 1,600 acres on the north end of the island and has controlled-access gates.
Wild Dunes was developed in 1972 and has two famous golf courses on it: the Wild Dunes Links Course, and the Harbor Course, both designed by Tom Fazio. It also has a nationally ranked tennis complex with 17 clay courts, and an award-winning family recreation program.
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