DREAMSCAPES Fall /2018
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THE MANY DELIGHTS OF MYRTLE BEACH
 
(2018 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: ADAM STANLEY



“Where y’all from?”

“Canada.”

“Oh, we love Canadians!”

 Such was our first exchange between locals and my wife and me upon landing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on board a quick WestJet flight from Toronto. We were greeted with stereotypical southern hospitality almost immediately in Myrtle Beach’s newly renovated airport, where any trip to the Grand Strand should begin.

I’ve been playing golf for almost my entire life, and living in Canada you’d think there would have been some opportunity to escape the snow and replace it with sand. But alas, it just never happened. I never had the chance to visit the No. 1 golf destination in the world. 

Until now.

I finally journeyed to this famed vacation location in mid-October with my wife, who was easily swayed into swapping scarves for sandals.

MAD ABOUT GOLF

It’s hard to ignore how golf-mad Myrtle Beach is. There are almost 100 courses in the area, and the town’s population is just north of 30,000, giving the area the distinction of having one of the highest golf course-to-population ratings in the world. The number of golf courses is staggering, but this fiery competition gives travellers so many affordable options. I played two fine courses, both of which were in impeccable shape.

First was the Witch Golf Club in East Conway, which is part of the Mystical Golf family (three courses in total) and requires golfers to traverse through a Carolinian forest. It called for precise shot making, but was also forgiving enough for those just looking to have fun. The standout hole was the par-3 7th, with water up the right side of the hole and across the front of the green. The green is almost on an island, so beware of the alligators (a first for me) if you do drop your tee shot in the pond.

Playing Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links in North Myrtle Beach, the second course on my itinerary, was also a treat. It’s part of the Glens Golf Group (four courses in total) and adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway—a feature that makes both the par-4 9th and par-4 18th truly memorable (and difficult) holes. The final three holes at Glen Dornoch claim to be the most talked about in Myrtle Beach. After playing them, it’s tough to argue with that notion. Coastal golf courses in South Carolina are usually flat, but this site challenges with several natural elevation changes sloping down toward the aforementioned waterway. Both courses are less than a 30-minute drive from the boardwalk.

UP AND OVER THE BOARDWALK

The boardwalk is really where Myrtle Beach shines. Beachfront activities are endless: water parks, grandiose miniature golf courses, arcades, restaurants, fishing, sightseeing, shopping, beachcombing and museums are at your disposal. However, you’d be missing a key element of the Myrtle Beach experience if you didn’t see it from above.

The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel allows visitors to do just that. The attraction is situated right on the boardwalk, adjacent to the Landshark Bar & Grill Restaurant—part of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville franchise. The SkyWheel, a 57-metre-high Ferris wheel-style ride complete with enclosed gondola seating, gives riders an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean and the boardwalk strip. My wife and I rode it at sunset before dinner, however at night, it features a light show using one million LED lights.

We thought the SkyWheel allowed us to capture beautiful panoramic views of the Grand Strand, but its vastness and picturesque aesthetic was not fully clear until the next day, when we hovered above it.

Ocean Watersports allowed us to experience the landscape of Myrtle Beach from a parasail 91 metres above the ocean. After being transported to the parasailing boat from shore via an unexpectedly thrilling banana boat ride, we were strapped into a harness in front of a giant colourful parachute. Then, as the boat pulled away, we were hoisted up in the air to our spectacular summit in the sky.

As the No. 1 water sports company in the region, Ocean Watersports usually begins its season in mid-March, thanks to some persistent Canadians who convinced the manager to open the doors early after explaining the timing of our March Breaks. Featuring jet-ski rentals, longer banana boat rides and, of course, parasailing excursions, this operator offers unique opportunities Myrtle Beach visitors don’t want to miss.

LOCAL GEMS

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the dining and nightlife in Myrtle Beach. There is no shortage of buffets, fresh seafood joints, ice-cream parlours and pancake houses. While there were the typical chains like Chick-fil-A, Olive Garden and TGI Fridays, we chose to frequent local gems on the beach instead.

Our favourite meal was enjoyed at the Sea Captain’s House on Ocean Boulevard, where we indulged in succulent crab cakes, crisp salads, spicy jambalaya, pecan-encrusted snapper and house-made key lime pie. I can’t forget to mention the inexpensive beers on tap, either.

As part of the entertainment offerings, we took in a fun evening of comedy thanks to the troupe at the Carolina Improv Company, whose take on Whose Line is it Anyway skits left us grinning ear-to-ear. The stage is located in a shopping mall, but the small space delivered big laughs to a sold-out crowd.

If Myrtle Beach is trying to shed its past image of being purely a golf destination, then it’s doing a fine job so far. It’s hard to deny that golf is the focal point, but between the sand and surf and the dining and entertainment options, there’s much more to Myrtle Beach than “y’all” may think.

Travel Planner

WestJet (westjet.com) and Porter Airlines (flyporter.com) offer seasonal scheduled flights to Myrtle Beach from Toronto. For more information on Myrtle Beach, visit:

Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: visitmyrtlebeach.com

Carolina Improv Company: carolinaimprov.com

Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links: glensgolfgroup.com

Myrtle Beach SkyWheel: skywheel.com

Ocean Watersports: parasailmyrtlebeach.com

Sea Captain’s House: seacaptains.com

Witch Golf Club: witchgolf.com

 
 
 
 
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