The main attraction here, and the reason people started visiting in the first place, is the beach. Myrtle Beach sand is mostly hard packed and the color of brown sugar, to which it’s often compared. During the resort’s rapid growth during the 1980s and 1990s, city planners deliberately interspersed residential zones with commercial zones, thereby relieving clusters of honky-tonk with carefully landscaped communities of private homes and condos.
The beach has lifeguards and plenty of fast-food joints. Amazingly, there are no public toilets. South Carolina law, however, obligates hotels to allow beach buffs to use their facilities. (Many male beachgoers don't bother to go inside the hotels but use walls instead—a habit that has provoked endless local-newspaper comment.)
At the southern tier of the beach, Myrtle Beach State Park, 4401 South King’s Hwy., Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/238-5325; www.myrtlebeachstatepark.net), offers 312 acres of pine woods and access to a sandy beach. Admission to the park is $5 for adults, $3 for children 6 to 15, and free for children 5 and under. Seniors age 65 and over who are residents of South Carolina pay an entrance fee of $3. The park contains toilets and picnic tables, and it's possible to fish from Myrtle Beach pier for $5 for ages 16 and older, $3 for South Carolina seniors, and $3 for children ages 6 to 15. The park is full of nature trails and offers 302 campsites, priced from $31 to $52 per night for full-service campsites, $21 to $42 per night for electrical and water (but not sewage) connections. Simple campsites with none of the above-mentioned hookups rent for $18 to $31 per night. Free Wi-Fi is available for overnight guests. The park is open March to November daily 6am to 10pm, and December to February daily 6am to 8pm.
Fishing -- Because of the warming temperature of the Gulf Stream, fishing is good off Myrtle Beach from early spring until around Christmas. You can pursue king mackerel, spadefish, amberjack, barracuda, sea bass, and Spanish mackerel, along with grouper and red snapper. Great fishing is available from Crazy Sister Marina, 4123 Business Highway 17, at Murrells Inlet (tel. 866/557-3474 or 843/651-3676; www.crazysister.com). Private sport fishing charters are available, while regular trips on the “Head Boat” run from a 4-hour afternoon shark-fishing excursion ($40) to an all-day deep-sea fishing expedition ($84). The rates include rod and reel, bait, tackle, and license. Once a month, between March and November, Crazy Sister hosts the Overnight Gulf Stream fishing expedition for the true fishing enthusiast. The cost of the 25-hour trip, which departs Saturday at 1:30pm and returns Sunday at 2:30pm, is $220. The rate includes rod and reel, bait, tackle, and license; an electric reel is an additional $20. On this trip, the price of the electric reel may well be worth it.
Sailing & Kayaking -- Crazy Sister Marina also offers cruises that afford stunning views of the Grand Strand. The Saltwater Marsh Adventure is a 2-hour ecology trip that allows you to see marine life in its true element. Rates are $21 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. The Sunset Evening Cruise along the coast of Myrtle Beach lasts 75 minutes. Rates are $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 (both outings are free for children 2 and under). You can rent kayaks and Hobie Cat sailboats at Sail and Ski, 515 Hwy. 501, Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/626-7245), from April to September. Usually rented only to experienced sailors, the boats cost $35 to $50 per hour. Escorted 2-hour kayak tours through local mangrove swamps are around $60 each. Paddleboard lessons are $120 for 90 minutes, while an introduction to kiteboarding is $99 for 1 hour.
Paddleboarding -- To enjoy the up-and-coming pastime of paddleboarding (standup paddling on modified surfboards), contact Carolina Paddle Co. (tel. 843/222-3132; www.carolinapaddlecompany.com), 3937 Mega Dr., Unit 78, Myrtle Beach. Private lessons are $85 for 2 hours, or as low as $50 for a group of four people or more. Rentals run from $40 for 4 hours to $60 for 8 hours, and $75 for 24 hours.
Tennis -- The Myrtle Beach Tennis Center, 3302 Robert M. Grissom Parkway (tel. 843/918-2440) features a pro shop and 10 courts, eight of which are lighted for night play. Courts are $2 per person, per hour. The center is open Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm, and Saturday 8am to 6:30pm most of the year (reduced hours Dec–Feb). Grand Dunes Tennis Club, U.S. 17 Bypass, across from Dixie Stampede, at Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/449-4486), has 10 composition courts, eight of which are lighted for night play. Courts cost $30 for two people and $50 for four people. There’s also an on-site pro shop and fitness room. It’s open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm.
Watersports -- To rent jet skis and other watersports vehicles, contact Myrtle Beach Watersports (tel. 843/497-8848; www.myrtlebeachwatersports.com). It operates out of four locations along the Grand Strand; 4495 Mineola Ave., Little River (North Myrtle Beach; tel. 843/280-7777); 2100 Little River Neck Rd., North Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/280-8400); Marina at Grande Dunes, 8201 Marina Parkway, in Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/839-2999); and Clarion Inn, 101 Fantasy Harbour Blvd., Myrtle Beach (tel. 843/903-3456).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.