You’ve arrived in what may seem to be the hottest place on earth. Trudging around campus, you find that lower back sweat has reached an all-time high, making running-down-the-leg sweat a river of truth. Grab your friends and head to one of the area’s three convenient beaches where the sand and surf are free, free, free.

Folly Beach

About a half hour from downtown, Folly Beach is the perfect mix of natural and comfortable. An island lighthouse looks out over a driftwood shore at one end, next to the surfer hangout, The Washout. The town of Folly has everything for your laid-back beach-going needs. We recommend checking out Chico Feo, a backyard restaurant that serves up four kinds of tacos and big, steaming bowls of Cuban rice and beans. Head to Loggerheads for live music and make sure you stop by McKevlin’s surf shop for new gear and surf lessons. Pro tip: don’t let those convenient “park here for five dollars” signs fool you — there’s plenty of street parking to be had. Just make sure your tires aren’t on the pavement; you can get a ticket for that.

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms is generally considered the most family-friendly of the area’s three beaches, so head here if you’re looking for a relaxing time at the beach. IOP’s main street has hourly places to park, which may be your best go-to since street parking can be limited. If you need to fuel up before your swim, check out Acme Lowcountry Kitchen or Sea Biscuit Cafe, where you can tuck into hefty portions of breakfast food. And while the Windjammer’s world-famous (well, OK, not really) bikini bashes have come to an end, the venue still has loads of live music almost every day of the week. If you’re feeling sporty head to the volleyball nets in front of the Jammer, where very toned guys and gals give beach volleyball a good name.

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island hosts a beautiful expanse of sand, making it the most beach for your buck compared to IOP and Folly. The town of Sullivan’s is cute, and hotspots like Poe’s Tavern and Home Team BBQ fill up fast every weekend. Grab an iced coffee from Cafe Medley and park at Station 19 or 20 where you’re close enough to lug your cooler and chairs to the sand. This summer has seen a lot of sand dollars peppering the beach so keep your eyes peeled for a souvenir to take home. Just make sure they aren’t still alive (turn them upside down to see their squiggly little legs). There aren’t any lifeguards on duty at Sullivan’s, so if your tiny man-baby arms and legs can’t swim, throw on a few floaties or just wade near shore.

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