The south may be increasingly gentrified and stuffy, but not so at these coastal communities. Home to some of the most laid-back surfers, fishermen, and professional hammock sleepers in the world, these enclaves are surefire places to check in and tune out. Add humidity, cheap drinks and affordable lodgings and you’ll be a shoeless, free-loving, tanned southern hippie in a North Carolina minute, which is as loooong as you want it to be.
Buxton, North Carolina: A small community on Hatteras Island, part of the breathtaking Outerbanks, this rustic fishing town has been home to old hippies and burnouts for decades, thanks in part to its amazing campgrounds. After tramping along unspoiled Lighthouse Beach, picking up shells and participating in some of the best surfing, windsurfing and fishing in the country, you’ll be ready to fall into your RV with a bottle in one hand and Kerouac in the other.
Folly Beach, South Carolina: The closest beach to Charleston, South Carolina, this little island boasts of being “the edge of America.” Open-minded and sweet-smelling (especially during Big Gay Beach Day) with a funky main street and windswept, low-lying cottages, many come to Folly Beach for the amazing waves on Washout and stay for the good eats, good vibes, and relatively cheap cost of living.
Tybee Island, Georgia: Bikers, ‘60s survivors and vintage cottage lovers populate this rough and tumble community off the coast of Savannah. Every year the island hosts the legendary “Beach Bum Weekend,” which includes a parade where participants and spectators get in good-natured water fights with hoses and squirt guns. Afterwards, everyone floods into the bars and restaurants on Butler Street for some stronger liquid refreshment.
St Augustine, Florida: A mecca of hippy culture, St Augustine is known for its drum circles, street musicians and boat dwellers. Founded in 1565 by the Spanish, it is the oldest functioning city in America. This beautiful and fascinating port is not only super friendly, it is also super commercial—a drawback for the strapped beach bum but perfect for shoppers ready for a trippy shopping spree. History and many different influences make this one of the most eclectic beaches in the South.
Key West, Florida: From a drunk Hemingway to a drunker Tennessee Williams, this iconic town personifies the “beach bum” state of mind. The island has a vibrant gay and lesbian community, a dose of Cuban and Spanish culture and its share of sailors, wasted surfers and broke treasure hunters, not to mention a band of roaming chickens. Home to the annual Parrothead convention, it is the Jerusalem of thousands of Jimmy Buffet fans. Relax at Famous Joe’s Bar or Captain Tony’s Saloon after a day of deep sea fishing and you’ll never want to go back to square life again.