If you are a frequent visitor to Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island, or are planning your first trip, you will see that the preferred mode of transportation on the islands is a golf cart or LSV (Low Speed Vehicle). This makes getting around a whole lot simpler, and much more fun! Plus, parking is easier and more convenient in a cart, especially during the busy season. If you want to cruise the islands like a local, you’ve got to have a golf cart or LSV!
Differences Between a Golf Cart and LSV
So, what exactly is an LSV, and how does it differ from a golf cart? In a nutshell, an LSV is a street legal golf cart. Overall, it looks and operates the same as a traditional golf cart, but has a lot more safety features and driving privileges. LSV’s are considered street legal motor vehicles, and thus are required by law to have certain equipment. This includes seatbelts, headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. Additionally, LSV’s must be able to travel at speeds of between 22 and 25 miles per hour. This ensures that someone operating an LSV cart can keep up with traffic on secondary roads. According to the South Carolina golf cart & LSV laws, LSV’s are legally allowed to operate on roads with a speed limit up to 35 miles per hour.
Traditional golf carts, on the other hand, are not required to have all of the safety equipment, and generally travel at speeds of 12-15 miles per hour. For this reason, they are not allowed to drive on certain roads, and can only be driven within 4 miles of the owner’s residence.
On Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, LSV’s are allowed to operate on all roads on the two islands. They can also cross the Breach Inlet bridge to go between the two islands. LSV’s are also legally permitted to operate 24 hours per day. Traditional golf carts can only be driven during daytime hours, cannot drive on Palm Blvd (Isle of Palms) or Jasper Blvd (Sullivan’s Island), and are not permitted to cross between the two islands. Another consideration for renters is the ability to drive inside Wild Dunes, which is a gated community at the north end of Isle of Palms. Only LSV’s are allowed to be rented for locations within Wild Dunes.
Where to Drive on Isle of Palms
To take your vacation to the next level, you have to experience the island by golf cart or LSV! Especially with an Isle of Palms LSV rental, you can traverse the whole island, and take in all of the sights. While the options are numerous, here are some can’t miss spots:
IOP Marina and Islander 71: Located at the end of 41st Ave, the Isle of Palms Marina is a must visit spot on the island, complete with a row of golf cart parking spots right up front. You can do some shopping in the marina market, recently renamed The Outpost. Here you will find an assortment of IOP-themed gear, clothing, fishing gear, snacks and drinks. Grab breakfast or lunch from the counter and enjoy on the back deck, overlooking the busy harbor and marina. If you’re in the mood for an adventure, you can also book a sightseeing boat trip, fishing charter, or rent your own boat. Right next door is the Islander 71 restaurant, which is a fantastic location for lunch or dinner, complete with a stunning view of the waterway and harbor.
Front Beach: Travel to “downtown IOP”, affectionately called Front Beach, with your golf cart rental in Isle of Palms, SC. Skip the metered parking spaces on the street, and head to the corner of Ocean Blvd and JC Long. Here you will see a grassy parking area on the street corner with other golf carts parked. From here you can walk the entire Front Beach area, including the shops, restaurants, bars, and the beach! Have brunch at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, which serves up some of the most consistent, delicious, and local food on the island. If you can make reservations, grab them, but also don’t hesitate to wait – it’s worth it! If you want to kick back and watch some sports at a local beach bar, head to the Dinghy, which also happens to be a favorite locals hangout. At some point during your trip, be sure to take in some live music at the Windjammer. This Isle of Palms mainstay has been going strong for over 40 years. And where else are you going to find a beachfront concert stage?
Breach Inlet/Boathouse Restaurant: At the far southern end of Isle of Palms, you will find Breach Inlet, and the Breach Inlet bridge that leads to Sullivan’s Island. There is beach parking on one side of the street, so you can get out and explore this unique stretch of coastline. Bring your fishing poles, if you are into that, as you will soon figure out this is one of the most popular fishing spots on the island. You are also almost always guaranteed to see plenty of dolphins close by in the water. Being an inlet between the two islands, this water is teeming with sealife, which is why this is a favorite feeding ground for the dolphin. On the other side of Palm Blvd, you will find the Boathouse Restaurant. This is a terrific spot to grab drinks and appetizers at the upstairs bar, and it also happens to be the best place on the island to take in amazing sunset views.
Sullivan’s Island Hot Spots
If you happen to be staying at one of the few rental properties available on Sullivan’s Island, or you are vacationing in IOP and want to explore Sullivan’s with your LSV rental, you will discover that parking and convenience are magnified greatly by having a cart. Like Isle of Palms, you can legally drive on all roads on Sullivan’s Island with an LSV golf cart.
Restaurants: Sullivan’s Island is known for having terrific restaurants, and there really is not a bad choice on the island. Access them all with ease with your Sullivan’s Island golf cart rental! Find terrific smoked meats, BBQ, and cocktails at Home Team BBQ. If you are in the mood for margaritas and tacos, check out Mex 1 Coastal Cantina. And for the best burgers and fries in the area, Poe’s Tavern will not disappoint. This local favorite is named after Edgar Allan Poe, who was stationed on Sullivan’s Island in the early 19th century when he was in the US Army. For higher end dining, there are multiple options to choose from. But arguably the best restaurant in Sullivan’s Island, and for that matter the whole Charleston area, is the Obstinate Daughter. Make reservations early, as this restaurant is always busy, no matter the time of year. Fun fact, they also have two dedicated golf cart parking spaces under their building!
Fort Moultrie/Military Bunkers: As you may or may not know, Sullivan’s Island has a rich and important military history. Cruise towards the southern end of Sullivan’s to discover Fort Moultrie, which was originally built in 1776 to help defend Charleston Harbor during the Revolutionary War. It was also used during the Civil War, and actually all the way up through World War II. The original structure, though long gone, was comprised of parallel palmetto logs stacked 10ft high. This fact, combined with the original Liberty Flag (later known as the Moultrie Flag), gave rise to the Flag of South Carolina that we still have to this day, featuring a blue blackground, palmetto tree, and crescent moon. You can take an official tour of Fort Moultrie, or simply park your cart and stroll the grounds. If you follow the path to the beach, you can also watch the many container ships coming into and out of the nearby Charleston Harbor. Elsewhere on the island you will find many former military bunkers and batteries. Some of these have been converted into other uses, including the Edgar Allan Poe Library, as well as even residences.
Wild Dunes LSV Rentals
Every vacation to Wild Dunes is enhanced by having access to a cart. As mentioned previously, Wild Dunes only allows LSV rentals, so you will need to choose a company that is licensed to provide an LSV golf cart rental in Wild Dunes. Parking comes at a premium on Isle of Palms, and especially so inside Wild Dunes, so having a cart makes parking significantly easier, especially during the busy summer months. Wild Dunes is the perfect community to simply take a golf cart cruise, which is always a hit with the kids. You can also access beach parking within Wild Dunes, that is only accessible with a cart. One of these is off of Island Cottage Court, which is very close to the Boardwalk Inn and Boardwalk shops/pools. There is another designated parking area off of Summer Dunes Lane. And you can also access the golf cart only parking that is adjacent to the new Sweetgrass Inn hotel. From here, you can explore the many shops, restaurants, and pools that are part of the Wild Dunes resort. Definitely be sure to visit Coastal Crust for delicious brick oven pizza!
Choosing a Rental Company
The options for golf cart and LSV rentals in Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island have increased greatly over the years, as more and more travelers want to experience the cart life on the islands. While there are many upstart options, a few companies have stood the test of time, and consistently deliver high quality and enjoyable rental experiences for their customers. Of course the first consideration for most people is price. While price can vary considerably, you must also consider the quality of the cart and the overall rental experience that you will receive. LSV’s typically rent for more than standard golf carts, but not in all circumstances. And the quality of the LSV is also important to consider. What features are important for you? Check to make sure the cart that you are renting has the features that you are looking for. Also consider the age and wear of the carts that different companies use. While a certain company make look like a deal, they may be providing an inferior rental experience with an old and tired cart. Next, consider the online reviews of the rental company you are considering. Choose the company with the most consistent and highest rated reviews, so you know what you are getting before you get to your rental house. And finally, what is your all-in cost? Some area companies charge delivery fees and assorted tack on fees, that will increase your overall cost. Choose a local island company that doesn’t charge delivery fees, has quality and new carts, and has terrific reviews. This way, you will be sure to have a quality and safe golf cart rental experience.