Beach destinations make great vacation choices. There’s warm sunshine, white sand beaches, and big blue skies. But in more temperate climates, late fall and winter can put a real damper on your plans. It’s rainy. It’s too cold to swim. And some of the best outdoor attractions shut down until spring.
Because of this, you can save a lot of money traveling to beach towns at this time of year, since many businesses lower prices to attract more patrons. But what’s there to do once you get there?
Here are my recommendations for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
1. Helicopter Ride
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of helicopters. Both the news and Hollywood productions have taught me that these things are fragile – easy to take down, easy to crash.
That was, however, until I got to Myrtle Beach and saw ads for rides at just $20. This is an amazing opportunity to take photos from a vantage point you likely won’t be able to enjoy in any other way.
If you do decide to go, pick a clear day. For some reason, Myrtle Beach tends to attract quite a bit of fog. Even just six floors up in the hotel room, there were times I looked outside the window and all I saw was white and grey.
2. The Boardwalk
One of the most fascinating features on the Boardwalk is this upside-down house, but there’s more than just the eerie architecture. The Boardwalk is a labyrinth of wooden walkways going back and forth over a body of water. They link together a maze of golf courses, clothing stores, surf shops, candy shops, ice cream parlours, night clubs, and bars.
My favourite attraction on the Boardwalk was the Hurricane Show at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. I originally wandered into the bar and restaurant while hunting for a restroom, but then stayed to see Hurricane Myrtle strut her stuff.
It takes about ten minutes and includes a news report on Hurricane Myrtle wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and the U.S. This is then followed by lightning in the “skies” overhead, the crash of thunder, and this “hurricane” descending upon us.
Shark fins and sandals get swept up in the whirlwind, and then a bottle of tequila descends from the heavens to fill the blender. It’s a cooky concept, but boy is it fun to watch. They really went all out.
3. Mustard Challenge at Lucky Panda
Technically this isn’t a “thing”. You probably can’t just walk into Lucky Panda and tell them you want to try the Mustard Challenge. But it should be. Here’s what happened.
After bringing out our order, the Lucky Panda waitress set down a saucer with mustard in it. “Be careful, it’s spicy,” she warned us.
Of course we didn’t believe her. She was American, and we were three Jamaicans and a Haitian. If you’ve never had Caribbean food, let me tell you now: it’s spicy! American food is often bland in comparison.
So we dipped into the sauce with reckless abandon – and paid dearly for it. It was made from wasabi, and when that heat filled our mouth, and exploded through our nose and ears, we almost died.
Note to self: Always listen to the waitress’ recommendations, unless of course you want to take the mustard challenge.
Note to you: Water does not help…
4. Surfing & Swimming
In spite of the freezing water, people still go surfing in Myrtle Beach during the fall. If you’re a bit on the adventurous side, don’t mind the cold, and know your way around a surf board, then go for it.
If you’re like me, and your tropical genes aren’t cut out for such follies, then at least grab the camera. You’re sure to get some great action shots. The best time to catch surfers is at dawn.
If you’re really bent on swimming, but know you can’t bear the cold, then find out if your hotel has a heated swimming pool. Even if front desk tells you it doesn’t (like mine did), go find out for yourself.
5. Myrtle Beach State Park
If you love hiking, then the Myrtle Beach State Park is a great spot to check out. Some of the trails run right by the beach, and aren’t far from the Boardwalk. So when hunger strikes, you can always get off the trail to grab some grub.
If you’ve ever wanted to go camping, but dreaded giving up modern conveniences like the internet, then fret not. The campgrounds now offer complementary WiFi.
Even if you’re just going for a walk on the trail, remember to dress warmly. The temperature switches dramatically here, especially as you move towards the beach.
Traveling in the off-season is a great way to enjoy a low-key vacation in Myrtle Beach. While there’s definitely a lot less to do than in the spring and summer times, it’s not without its charms.
I give wintry Myrtle Beach a 3.5 out of 5.