September not only marks the start of the fall season in Myrtle Beach, it also brings some major changes for local beach laws. Just as the temperatures begin to drop and the crowds start to dissipate on the Grand Strand, the rules and regulations governing what you can and cannot do on the beach become a bit more lax, giving visitors even more reasons to come this autumn. Below is a list of changes to the laws that took effect on Labor Day, along with a few year-round rules you need to know:
* Beach tents: The city of Myrtle Beach's ban on beach tents is lifted after Labor Day, allowing guests at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort to make good use of those handy shading devices in the offseason. In order to avoid blocking the sight lines of lifeguards and the paths of emergency vehicles, the city enacted the ban for the summer months a few years ago. But the lighter beach crowds and absence of full-time lifeguards mean more room for beach-goers to stretch out in the shade of their tents in the offseason. These can be very useful for those looking to avoid getting sunburned in the deceptively cooler temperatures. Just don't leave them up overnight, or your tent could fall victim to the beach sweeper.
* Bicycles: This little-known law prevents visitors from riding their bikes down the beach during the summer months, but that ban is lifted after Labor Day, and cyclists can take full advantage of the opportunity. Special beach bikes with extra-wide tires ideal for navigating the sand are available for rent, or you can try using your personal bike at low tide in the more-compact sand by the shore. It is important to be on the lookout for unsuspecting beachcombers while you pedal up and down the coast. Most aren't expecting to be passed by a bike while they're searching for seashells, so leave them plenty of room so they don't accidentally cross your path.
* Dogs: Summer beach laws restrict the times that beachgoers can bring along their four-legged friends, but pets get the green light after Labor Day. After being banned from the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the summertime, dogs are permitted any time of day in the offseason. The city's animal-control ordinance still requires that owners keep their pets on a leash that is a maximum of 6 feet in length, and owners must clean up after their critters. Free bags are provided at all beach-access points.
* Parking: Myrtle Beach made the controversial decision to charge for parking at some beach-access points that have always had free parking in the past, but this move primarily impacted locals. Compass Cove guests have free covered parking at the resort, but you can also park for free at any public beach-access point or parking space after Oct. 31. If you decide to explore a different section of beach between November and March, city parking is free for locals and tourists.
* Water sports: In order to maintain safety for all beachgoers and ocean-swimmers, the city of Myrtle Beach maintains some regulations regarding when and where certain water-sports activities can take place. But those are lifted after Labor Day as visitors can use jet skis, kayaks, surfboards and even sailboats within 100 yards of the beach. Surfers are restricted to “surf zones” set up by the city to separate swimmers from surfers, but those zones are only in effect from May through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
* Other laws: For first-time visitors unfamiliar with the local laws, Myrtle Beach forbids driving or parking vehicles on the beach, including golf carts. Alcohol is also prohibited, although the beach patrol is usually very tolerant of those quietly and peacefully enjoying a cold one in a cup. Glass containers are a no-no regardless of the contents. Fires and fireworks are prohibited on the beach without a special permit, and it is illegal to litter or destroy sea oats or dune fences.
Of course, the No. 1 rule you should know about going to the beach is to have fun, and that's exactly what our guests at Compass Cove Resort do. Guests can take a short stroll to the beach or to enjoy the water slides, hot tubs and splash pads on our beachfront pool deck. These are just a few of the many good reasons to take a fall break with us here in Myrtle Beach at Compass Cove.