Sharing Love for IOP: Creating Family Memories


As the beachfront begins to shimmer in the summer sunlight, warm memories of vacation, ice cold treats, and the joy of relaxation return to many minds. The enjoyment of this season inspires many families to pack up and head for the Carolina coast. In this article, we meet a few families who spend part of their year at Isle Of Palms. They share some of their favorite experiences as well as what keeps them coming back.

–The Editors

As told by Jacqueline Thomas

Thomas family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #1When did you start vacationing in IOP?
I have been visiting IOP since I was a young girl for our one week of vacation every summer.

What time of year do you visit and why?
My family and I visit the Isle Of Palms every summer, from mid June until late August.

What do you do while on vacation?
We love the laid-back feeling on the island. Most days we go to the beach for a few hours, hang out, prepare a family meal and relax.

What are some memorable moments that you have created while on the island?
My children are spoiled as they have been spending their entire summer at the beach since they were 18 months old. They don’t know any different. My favorite thing is driving over the connector for the first time at the beginning of the season. When you reach the top, the view of the ocean is amazing. It’s a wonderful feeling to know this will be home for the next two months.

Thomas family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #2What made you choose IOP over so many other locations to relax?
IOP is a family tradition. It’s where my parents vacationed, and we have followed suit. I guess you could say IOP is my home away from home!

What keeps you coming back?
The beautiful ocean and the laid-back atmosphere keep us coming back.

Which places on the island do you find to be the most enjoyable/beautiful?
IOP beaches are hands down the most beautiful. They are wide, sandy beaches with plenty of room for the kids to play ball, skim board, etc.

Do you have any other comments or things to say about the island or your time here?
IOP is a must see on any vacation list!

As told by Frank de Nobriga

De Nobriga family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #1Mom and dad were married in 1950 and had five kids – Kathie, Frank, Donna, Deborah and Phil. There are 11 grandkids and 11 great-grandkids. We lived in Kingsport, Tennessee. Dad was a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, so he and mom enjoyed going to the Naval base to the PX to shop. I do not know the exact year we started going to IOP. We camped at Sand Dollar Campground, which is where Wild Dunes is presently located. I believe Wild Dunes was built in the early ’70s, so we were going to IOP in the late ’60s. As the kids grew up and married and we had kids ourselves, mom and dad would rent a house somewhere on the island. It started out as one week and then grew into two. As family members started working, they would rent the house around the 4th of July in order to get as many of us kids and grandkids there as possible. Carroll Realty always worked with us, and we had a standing reservation. Our dad died in September 2015, but my wife and I brought my mom to IOP last year for a week. She will be 94 in August.

De Nobriga family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #2When did you start vacationing in Isle Of Palms?
Late 1960.

What time of year do you visit and why?
We have visited all times during the year, but the two-week rental was normally the 4th of July.

What do you do while on vacation?
Most days were spent at the beach, playing in the surf. We were always down near 7th or 8th Avenue, so we were away from the larger crowds up near the pier. Of course, for many, many years there were no homes directly on the beach, and the crowds were sparse. We always went into Charleston to eat, particularly the Sunday buffet at the Mills House after attending church at St. Matthew’s Lutheran.

What are some memorable moments that you have created while on the island?
We were there the week in 1990 that a hurricane was off the coast. That was neat to play in the surf. We always enjoyed walking out to the sand dunes when the tide was extremely low. We also enjoyed going to Sullivan’s to eat. We would go there two or three times while at the beach. It did not take a lot to entertain us; we would go down to the point on Sullivan’s Island and watch the cargo ships enter and exit the harbor.

What made you choose IOP over so many other locations to relax?
The proximity to Kingsport and a nicer beach and less crowded than Myrtle Beach.

What keeps you coming back?
We can be there in six hours; the sun; the beach; the warm surf; and crowds that aren’t huge.

Which places on the island do you find to be the most enjoyable/beautiful?
Certainly rising early and walking on the beach before the crowds arrive. But even during the day, you can find space to spread out and play boccie ball and walk back to the house.

Do you have any other comments or things to say about the island or your time here?
My wife and I have just come down for the weekend when we need to get away, enjoy the beach and eat some shrimp.

As told by Dot Champion

Best friend memories in Isle of Palms, SCWhen did you start vacationing in Isle Of Palms?
We first discovered Isle of Palms five years ago when our large group of friends, who summer in Highlands, North Carolina, needed a really large house for our annual early spring gathering. We had gone other places and had to have two or three small houses. I went online and found a great rental company – East Island Rentals. Tammy has helped us continue to secure the greatest house ever, “Sunbeam,” with 10 bedrooms, 10 full private baths and two half baths – also, a television in each very comfortable bedroom.

What do you do while on vacation?
Our usual group is 12 to 14 ladies, and we play bridge, and hand and foot, and we read, shop, chatter, laugh our heads off and share our hearts. Our motto now is “What Happens in IOP Stays in IOP.” It always ends up with at least one good reason for that motto!!

What time of year do you visit and why?
We try to go in the off season, in mid-March, so as not to miss our time later on in Highlands! And it is a bit less money at that time. Sunbeam is a spectacular property, with huge open spaces, lovely updated furnishings and every amenity possible to make our stay truly memorable. The views are simply stunning, with a picture perfect beach, although some years are a bit chilly in March.

What are some memorable moments that you have created while on the island?
We usually stay four nights and the ladies come from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina to catch up, rest, eat and just enjoy our longtime friendships. Each one brings lots of goodies and beverages of choice! We cook in some and eat out often. We love Boathouse and Acme for yummy seafood, Coda del Pesce for gourmet offerings and Obstinate Daughter for unique lunch or dinner.

What made you choose IOP over so many other locations to relax?
There are so many wonderful dining spots on the island that we never venture back into Charleston once we are settled in. However, we do love to meet on the day of arrival in town at Magnolias. You must try their buttermilk fried chicken, succotash and Southern style collard greens! It sets the tone for our visit!

What keeps you coming back?
We have all agreed that there is no reason whatsoever to go anywhere else, so we book our gorgeous place far ahead each year. Isle Of Palms is especially wonderful because of easy access to great shopping and day trips. With Mount Pleasant just over the bridge, the shopaholics in our group are happy.

Which places on the island do you find to be the most enjoyable/beautiful?
Each visit, we truly hate to leave and threaten to stretch out our time to five nights or more, so that could possibly be an option soon.

Do you have any other comments or things to say about the island or your time here?
Most everyone in our group is well-traveled, and we all agree wholeheartedly that Isle of Palms is indeed a very special place which has gotten under our skin and in our hearts for many years to come!

As told by Tim Thigpen

Thigpen family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #1When did you start vacationing in IOP?
(As recorded in my dad’s diary) 50 years ago, the week of my 9th birthday, July 1966, me, my parents and older brother brought the family tent to Isle Of Palms. We stayed at the Sand Dollar Family Campground, Spot #4. It cost $3 a night. Back then, everyone drove on the beach and, of course, our huge Pontiac station wagon sank in the sand and got stuck. Immediately, several adults and kids surrounded us, dug and pushed us out. (Over the week, this process, with my family included, would be repeated for many others.) From that time to today, helpful friendly people, locals and us vacationers are all I have ever found at IOP. Add this to me finding several sand dollars during that first stay and I fell totally, completely and forever in love with Isle Of Palms.

As kids, we came back from time-to-time, but, once I became part of the adult decision-making process, I/we have not missed a year. For over 30 years I/we come two to four times a year during all seasons.

Thigpen family memories in Isle of Palms, SC #2Over these past 50 years, many things have changed in my/our lives, lots has come and gone, but getting back to IOP has never stopped.

What time of year do you visit and why?
We come all times. For many years, the week of July 4 has been the summer vacation week. The weather has been excellent (the occasional rain shower just allows for recovery time in the condo or house). Daily time (sun, fun, surf, games) on the beach, which is never too crowded, biking to breakfast and dinner, night walks through town, neighborhoods, around Wild Dunes and on the beach define a vacation for me.

Sitting on a deck with a cup of coffee watching the sun rise or sitting on a deck with a glass of wine watching the sun set over the marsh – I know no better way to start or end a day.

Fall, winter and/or spring is for our long weekends. We often bring our dogs and take advantage of the “off leash” times. I am sure we have not missed any month over the years.

What do you do while on vacation?
Of course, every day includes time on the beach and playing/swimming in the ocean.

Mornings will begin with a beach run, breakfast in or out, then head to the beach for the day. We play, swim, surf, skim board, boogie board, competitive beach games. All the while we plot the evening/night plans. Most often we will all bike to dinner and find our way to Ben & Jerry’s for dessert – then a night walk on the beach with the stars and through the local area where we are staying.

I/we will often do a local race or triathlon. Flat courses have their advantages!

Staying on IOP gives you full access to Charleston, its unique history and the endless options of every category for a vacation week or long weekend. I believe we have done most everything and, in many cases, done them so many times.

What are some memorable moments that you have created while on the island?
An annual tradition, is our “local wild-caught shrimp night.” We buy, fix shrimp many ways and eat-eat-eat. And we always probably feel we need to repent for being gluttonous.

We are avid runners, so morning beach runs and/or late night after it cools off happen every day. (I coach high school cross country and track) We often do the IOP Beach 5K. My son TJ ran his first 5K there at age 8 and placed first in the 12 & under. (Now a 9th grader, he is the top distance runner at Byrnes High School, and it all started at IOP.)

We often bike at night from wherever we are staying to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream, sometimes on the beach to get there. The fireworks on the July 4 – you can see them going off in every direction.

We often enjoy family events like my Mom’s 80th birthday in 2009. We rented a house in Wild Dunes big enough for everyone. IOP is perfect for family celebrations.

A few times we have done our own “in family” ghost walk, making up true ghost stories. And we always see the few alligators in Wild Dunes.

What made you choose IOP over so many other locations to relax?
Always so good. I truly have never had a complaint in any category. I/we have stayed on the tip of Wild Dunes, on the beach, on the marsh, on the Intracostal Waterway, across from the Boat House Restaurant, and numerous places in between. I have fully enjoyed every visit.

With good timing, it is easy to avoid heavy traffic getting there (three hours from my driveway to sitting on the beach). Every person I have interacted with (local, business staffs, vacationers) is warm and friendly. IOP is very safe, well-managed, beautiful, plenty to do but has kept the local (less commercial) beach. As you arrive, top the rise on the Connector bridge and see the ocean once again, you feel like you have left all the demands of life on Earth in the rearview mirror, with fun and sun the only option.

Ocean, beautiful beach with easy access no matter where you stay, mesmerizing marsh, golf, tennis and watersports, perfect running/biking options.

We have probably eaten at every restaurant on IOP – never a bad outing.

The size of the island is perfect – just big enough to have everything you want and enjoy for beach life and just small enough to avoid the typical problems and difficulties larger commercial beach vacation locations come with.

What keeps you coming back?
I have only the best memories of our vacations and long weekend getaways.

If it is a romantic getaway I wanted, IOP offers every ingredient you need for a perfect escape, including music to dance to and warm sun on the beach. You have the sound of the waves day or night and/or the quiet and unique noise of water descending from high tide in the marsh.

For a family vacation – space for very competitive beach games, perfect tans, safe walks/runs/biking, great weather, short walk to the beach from every house/condo, great food at the IOP restaurants.

Every option one can imagine to stay at a beach area is available, all reasonably and competitively priced and maintained – high-end plush or small one-bedroom condo/house. You can stay beachfront, marsh front, Intracostal Waterway front or on a very quiet street in between. And just about every place comes with a pool or access to one.

We often make new friends like Bil Krauss. We met at Morgan Creek Grill many years ago as he performs there every summer. We have met people from all over the world, and they all say they love their visit.

Which places on the island do you find to be the most enjoyable/beautiful?
The shore, beach, ocean waves, surrounded by the two inlets, the huge mesmerizing marsh and the Intracoastal Waterway – no matter which direction you look on IOP, all is perfectly beautiful.

Biking and/or running from one end of the island to the other – It’s difficult to find a better course.

As I mentioned: The sunrise over the ocean and the sunset over the marsh are second to no other place. Even the occasional storms that pop up provide an amazing view of nature as you wait as long as possible before packing the tent and hustling back to the house/condo.

Do you have any other comments or things to say about the island or your time here?
I have rented through the wonderful people at Island Realty for over 20 years, when I first discovered them. They do an excellent, top-flight job!

The logistics, infrastructure, size and scope of IOP makes for a perfect, contained yet wide open beach location to live or for vacation. In all these years, I have never experienced a disturbance or difficulty. Everyone working on the island has always been of a helpful nature.

If IOP offered a money back guarantee if I ever failed to have an amazing and memorable vacation there, over my 50 years, there’s not a single time could I have collected.

I’ve been many places since coming there 50 years ago, domestic and foreign, and it is my plan to retire on IOP. Every time I have come to IOP, I did not want to leave. One day I will not!

Isle of Palms, SC Rental Companies photo

Isle of Palms Vacation Rental Companies

Carroll Realty, Inc.
103 Palm Blvd. #1a, Isle of Palms, S.C. 29451

Charleston Coast Vacations
(Dunes Properties)
1400 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, S.C. 29451
888- 250-8730

East Islands Rentals
29 J .C. Long Blvd., #104, Isle of Palms, S.C. 29451

Island Realty
304 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, S.C. 29451


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