We are staying on King Street but would love to spend the day on the ocean and near a pool. Any resorts offer a day pass? Would love to find a private cabana rental.
We are definitely willing to travel up/down the coast a bit.
Yes, your options are Folly Beach, the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island ~ each about a 25-30 minute drive from the historic district. (assuming you are not trying to go on a Fri, Sat or Sun morning ~ traffic then can take over an hour to get there). We don't really have cabanas on our beaches. Pay attention to parking rules, they give expensive tickets if you don't.
From what I read, in general, resorts do not sell day passes, their facilities/amenities are for the benefit of those who pay the prices (and sometimes they are pretty high) to stay on their properties.
This appears to be the case in resort locations all over the world.
Unfortunately, if you want "resort amenities" you are likely going to have to spend the money and stay at the resort. If they let anyone come in for "the day", they would be overrun with people trying to take advantage of the amenities without paying for them.
Lots of nice resorts are selling day passes on ResortPass.com - they have an app that's great for booking cabanas and buying daily access. Usually daily access, per person is $30-90/day depending on the resort.
There's some other new companies like ResortPass that are popping up and helping resorts maximize profits and pool starved locals or visitors access a day the pool. Another one is called DayPass.
Good luck! Charleston is tough in that the beaches aren't really easily accessible from downtown for short visits. You sort of have to pick either staying out in Kiawah and having a beach vacation or milling around the small but quaint downtown area and possibly dealing with schlepping stuff to a nearby beach (not my cup of tea!).
Besides ~ this post is a year old. I suspect Amanda is advertising the service.