If you're not actually renting a house on the island, the best spot on Pawleys Island is the beach at the south end. There's plenty of parking there (parking is at a premium on the island elsewhere). Last year there was a nice area of beach about the size of a football field. Of course, it grew and shrank with the ebb and flow of the tide. It was rather scenic and not particularly over populated. It's a nice place to hunt for shells.
Cheryl and I got up early on Tuesday (June 24) with the idea that we could be out there shortly after low tide. We arrived at about 8am and were surprised at the change since last year. Evidently the inlet behind the island was dredged. The sand was dummped on the south end of Pawleys Island and the beach has now grown to the sized of five or six football fields. It was beautiful and spacious. The channel was shallow enough to walk across at low tide, so we were able to search the other side of the inlet for shells.
We liked it so much, we went back on Thursday morning.
Two warnings. First, there are no facilities of any kind. You cannot change at the site. There are no restrooms. There's no shower. There's no water. Nothing. A few miles away there are gas stations out on Highway 17, and they have restrooms. But that's as good as it gets.
Second, if you cross the channel at low tide (or I suppose at high tide) be forewarned that some powerful currents develop pretty quickly as the tide begins to flow in. It would not be hard to get trapped on the wrong beach. And even for the best swimmers, the current is dangerous. There are a couple of hours around low tide when the water is not a problem.
I'm sure we'll be back there again next year...