So you have strolled the Boardwalk, cruised the Boulevard, and walked around Broadway. You've been there and done that at all of Myrtle Beach’s major manmade attractions, and even got the T-shirt to prove it.
But there's a whole other side to the Grand Strand that you might not have seen yet. In fact, many visitors don’t even realize it exists. But hidden far away from the neon lights and seafood buffets is a much wilder world of Lowcountry wetlands, maritime woodlands, and abundant wildlife.
You can’t get there by foot, trolley or a minivan, and even your SUV might be not match for some of the hard-to-reach places. It takes a four-wheel drive Jeep or a four-hoofed horse, and a knowledgeable tour guide to discover some of the Strand’s most scenic and natural settings. Here are four great ways to get back to nature and enjoy the Grand Strand’s great outdoors:
- Carolina Safari: Leave the driving to an experienced guide on one of these jeep tours that take you deep into the Carolina backwoods. Ride through former rice fields, swamplands and Carolina bays, where you may spot alligators, black bears, and various birds of prey. In addition to enjoying the scenery, passengers also can learn about local ecology, history, and legends. Tour options also include longer trips to some of the Carolina’s barrier islands and former plantation grounds. Despite the rugged ride and occasional hike, this outfit also offers tours that are fun and safe for the whole family.
- Horseback Rides of Myrtle Beach: Located in the rural town of Loris about 20 miles from Myrtle Beach, this outfitter operates a number of stables and is surrounded by trails for horseback riding enthusiasts who want to get away from it all. A day trip includes instruction for beginning and out-of-practice riders and time to get acquainted with your mount before you hit the dusty trail. The guided tours feature lots of options for distance, terrain and pace, and the horses have been specifically trained to work well with inexperienced riders. Year-round tours are available for the woodlands on site, but special beach trips are offered during the winter months, when horseback riding is permitted directly on the sand and surf.
- Inlet Point Plantation Stables: Horseback riding on the beach is only allowed during the winter months in Myrtle Beach, but Inlet Point Plantation has the horses and access to let you experience the thrill year-round. Located near the Carolina border, Inlet Point offers tours of nearby Waites Island, an uninhabited, 1,380-acre preserve where you can ride horses on the beach year-round. Experienced guides offer basic instruction before taking patrons on the trailhead and over a small bridge to the island for some trotting in the surf. Tours of the ranch and wooded trails are also available, and pony rides are popular among the kids.
- Myrtle Beach Safari: Better known as T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station, this tour is as close as you can get to Africa without leaving Myrtle Beach. Featuring a variety of animals from all over the world, including lions, bears, elephants, and of course, tigers, “The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species” is a 50-acre outpost where visitors can get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Professional trainers and handlers help visitors pet and hold some of the smaller animals on the property, but guests head for the safety of the viewing stand when the big beasts come out to play. See a cheetah sprint at full-speed, a lion leap 20 feet in the air, and, for the main event, a liger show off its pure size and power. For a nice preview before you buy a ticket, visit the free T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing.