WRTTEN BY Paul Grimshaw
Our 60 miles of shoreline, replete with beautiful inlets, lazy swashes and more than enough sand to accommodate all, is what most visitors (and many locals) say they love most about the Grand Strand. Our beaches are clean, safe and open to the public year-round, with hundreds of beach access points—even in the middle of residential neighborhoods. Free parking can be tricky, but not impossible, and pay-to-park options are readily available. Enjoy chair and umbrella rentals, freshwater outdoor showers and easily accessible restrooms along many portions of the beach.
Though watersports of all kinds, from dolphin cruises to parasailing to jet boat rides, generally compete for the same adventurous customer, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as piloting your own jet ski, technically known as a personal watercraft (PWC). Here along the Grand Strand, you can choose from milder guided Intracoastal Waterway trips to explore the inland’s scenic, natural beauty, or you can opt for full-speed ocean and inlet trips, where you and your PWC are on your own. Caution must be exercised, but, man, are they fun!
Myrtle Waves on U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach may be the best known of the area waterparks, with its 10-story-tall Turbo Twisters, but equally beloved by the wet set are Family Kingdom’s Splashes Water Park (the only oceanfront waterpark in the area) and Wild Water & Wheels in Surfside Beach, which adds bumper boats, mini golf and go-karts to the mix.
The Shark Wake Park in the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex offers adrenaline junkies their fix with cable-driven knee boards, wake boards, water skis and more on its own freshwater lake. Founded by golfing royalty Greg Norman Jr., the Shark Wake Park is great for riders of all skill levels.
Many hotels offer smaller water parks, too, perfect for a stay-cationing family or visitors with little ones in tow.
Kayaking & Paddle Boarding
Also in the watersport realm, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) can be relaxing and rewarding ways to spend a few hours on the water. Both kayaks and paddleboards are generally very easy to learn the basics and maneuver. Most all watersports operators rent them for guided trips or solo explorations.
Boat Rentals & Fishing
For those who love being on the water as opposed to in it, boat rentals, available at many area marinas, along with two boat clubs, offer ways for those without boats to fake it for an afternoon or a weekend without breaking the bank. Our Intracoastal Waterway, area rivers, and inlets protected from the trickier currents and waves in the ocean, make for boating even a novice can manage safely. While you’re out there, throw a hook in the water and see what bites. (You’ll a need a South Carolina fishing license for saltwater or freshwater fishing, however.) Fishermen, amateur and seasoned, love our many piers as well, and the most serious may opt for fishing charters that can go all the way to the Gulf Stream in search of trophy fish.
Photographs by StacieStauffSmith Photos; Paul Brady Photography; Ian Jacob Photography; courtesy of Wild Water & Wheels; Holy Polygon; shutterstock user Sanchik; shutterstock user PQK; Picture Partners; Ken Schulze