Picture a Different Myrtle Beach

Picture a Different Myrtle Beach

June 28, 2014

Myrtle Beach South Carolina is one of the most visited vacation destinations in the Southeast. If you love white sandy beaches, golf, outlet shopping, and endless buffets spiced with a bit of Southern charm – then Myrtle Beach is your destination!  But if you haven’t figured it out by now, Rambler and I prefer our travels to involve a little natural beauty. How does one find that in Myrtle Beach, SC?

As always, click any picture for a higher resolution version.  Then click your “Back” button to return to the story!

While we were there, we enjoyed some local flavor at “Filets on the Water” at North Myrtle Beach(NMB) where we ate by the Harbourgate Marina while the rain fell through leaky tarp covers in Cap’n Dilligaf’s Tiki Bar and Deck. We were promised musical entertainment, but that didn’t happen.  Oh well, – when life gives you lemons, have a lemon-drop strawberry martini! The food was delicious and the leaking tarps were just part of the charm of choosing to sit on the deck in a thunderstorm.

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We also enjoyed walking through the shops at Barefoot Landing. We later returned there to eat at Crossroads at the House of Blues. We highly recommend the Voo Doo Shrimp appetizer. Yum!

But enough of this silliness, where is Mother Nature?  Where is the beach? Where is the history and legacy of the Carolina’s? It turns out, it is just a few miles down the road at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrels Inlet, SC.

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Welcome to Huntington Beach SP

When visiting Huntington Beach State Park, especially after driving through NMB and MB traffic, you feel the world’s devices and worries vanish into the awe inspiring beauty of the park. To get to the main parking area you drive over a causeway with a fresh water preserve on one side and a salt water marsh on the other.  The water fowl are stunning and on this particular day the alligators were sunning themselves on the banks and sandbars.  Just look at what we saw!

Many of the Egret’s appear to be tagged with transmitters with antennae sticking out. I don’t think they are remote controlled or part of a drone program.

 

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Great White Egret in flight

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Get my “good side”

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In for a marsh landing

 

 

 

 

 

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Here, fishie fishie fishie…

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Sushi! Nom, nom nom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Anhinga (a.k.a. “Snake birds”) are very striking and distinctive.  They prefer the fresh water swamps, and swim and dive similar to a Cormorant.  They spear their fish with those long straight bills.  They almost seemed to be posing for us!

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There were also quite a few Little Blue Heron’s fishing around the marsh flats.  Even though they are the smaller cousin to the Great Blue Heron; they are no less impressive!  We saw these magnificent birds on both the fresh and saltwater sides of the causeway.

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We have lift-off!

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What’s for lunch today?

 

 

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Ah, I see fresh crab is on the menu!

 

In addition to the birds, an amazing number of alligators were sunbathing and giving tourists some great poses for the camera.  We saw several relatively close, and a number of others in the distance.  The ones we observed ranged from about 2 feet in length, up to about 9 feet!  It’s a safe bet there are some even larger somewhere within the park.

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From the end of the causeway, it is just a short walk to the Salt Marsh Boardwalk, and the the park’s Nature Center.  Both are well worth it!  You will find quiet beauty and solitude – as well as more opportunities to enjoy the wildlife of this environment.

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Salt Marsh Boardwalk

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We should have brought our kayaks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo opportunities everywhere!

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This couple is just beginning their Boardwalk Adventure

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The Nature Center, from the Boardwalk

 

After a long and  hot summer day, day the air conditioned Nature Center is a welcome respite. There are restrooms, vending machines for a cool drink, and places to sit in the fresh air and shade.  Or better yet, you can go inside and see the educational displays regarding the local ecosystems.

Here you will find displays of many of the native land and marine animals found within the park.  The starfish seemed to be especially photogenic during our visit.

 

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The “Touch Tank” – where you can interact with skates, rays and horseshoe crabs – is a hit with the young AND the young at heart!

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And who doesn’t like seahorses?

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Rambler of course particularly enjoyed the reptile room. I had to smile when I heard him giving a herp’ talk to a couple of kids about the different kinds of snakes on display.

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Hognose Snake

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Diamondback Terrapin

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Eastern Box Turtle

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Eastern Garter Snake

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Rough Keeled Green Snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, the park is called Huntington BEACH State park! There is a beautiful wide sandy beach there. While it isn’t as crowded as Myrtle Beach – like any other beach in the summer, you want to get there early to claim your spot. There is a large changing area and restroom facility there. Families can rent shelters or just claim a table in the picnic area. And the outdoor shower areas are just fine for rinsing off excess sand before heading home.

 

The sandy path to the beach area.
The sandy path to the beach area.

This family had set up to surf fish early in the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I knew I should have brought my body board!

 

It was a long and fabulous day.  And we haven’t even told you about the Atalaya Castle tour, or the magnificent gardens and sculptures of Brookgreen Gardens. Wow, time flies! We will have to save that for another post.  (but here’s a teaser 😉

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Until then, Keep Picturing the South ya’ll!

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