Compass Cove guests looking for a change of pace should point their compasses south to Murrells Inlet, a historic fishing village that is only 15 miles from the bright lights of Myrtle Beach but seems like a world away. It’s the perfect day trip to experience the laid-back lifestyle of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina,” Murrells Inlet backs it up by harvesting the fertile waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the tidal creeks that feed into the Inlet. Fishing and shrimping boats set sail for deeper waters every morning out of the marinas and private docks along the Inlet, while crab-trappers and oyster diggers comb the backwaters for their fresh catches. And it all ends up on the dinner tables that surround the Inlet, particularly the popular Murrells Inlet Marshwalk. This wooden walkway carries visitors along the waterfront and into the doors of a dozen or so local restaurants and bars that serve the freshest seafood on the Grand Strand and lots of cold drinks to wash it all down.
The view of the Inlet tells the history of this village, which dates back to the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians. The first European explorers and settlers began gravitating to this area in the 1600s, and Murrells Inlet became a notorious hideout for pirates, including the legendary Blackbeard. The legend of Drunken Jack Island is it became the final resting place of a pirate who was left stranded with only a stash of stolen rum, and his bleached bones were eventually discovered surrounded by empty bottles. Close by is Goat Island, where a family of goats spend the summer months to keep the vegetation at bay. All can be viewed from the Marshwalk.
Murrells Inlet also offers a wide range of watersports activities for the whole family. Deep-sea fishing trips, dolphin-watching tours, Banana Boat rides and a trip aboard a replica pirate ship are among the many family-friendly activities. Jet-ski rentals, parasailing rides and kayak trips through the salt marshes are also available for the more adventurous-minded visitors. Fishing and crabbing are also permitted from dry land, such as the Murrells Inlet Jettywalk. Licenses, bait and gear can be purchased at the many bait-and-tackle shops along Highway 17 Business.
If golf is more your speed, Murrells Inlet features eight championship courses to choose from, including the award-winning TPC of Myrtle Beach and Wachesaw East, which is built upon a former rice and indigo plantation. Many of Murrells Inlet’s layouts provide a beautiful nature walk as well as a tough test of golf. The wetlands and woodlands that make up the Lowcountry provide natural hazards on the well-designed courses, giving golfers a unique experience.
The natural beauty of Murrells Inlet is on full display at the nearby Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park. Brookgreen Gardens is the oldest and largest botanical sculpture garden on the East Coast, featuring the works of some of the great artists of the 19th century intertwined with the colorful flowers and plants on the premises. Ancient live oak trees, some that predate the birth of the United States in 1776, sprawl across the 900-acre property, providing shade and ideal photo opportunities.
Also located on-site is a boat trip through the tidal creeks where nature has taken over the old rice fields, the Lowcountry Zoo that features native species such as alligators, otters and various birds of prey, and a Butterfly Pavilion where rare species of these colorful creatures are on display. It’s all part of what makes Murrells Inlet, SC a great place to spend a day.
(Photo courtesy: MenuPix.com)