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Things to do and see at Huntington Beach & Myrtle Beach State Parks

Things to do and see at Huntington Beach & Myrtle Beach State Parks

For guests who have an appreciation for nature by day but enjoy the creature comforts of Compass Cove Resort by night, the Grand Strand is home to two state parks that allow you to experience the best of both worlds without having to travel all over the globe.

Myrtle Beach State Park on the south end of the beach and Huntington Beach State Park in nearby Murrells Inlet provide the perfect places to escape the neon landscape of the downtown district and experience the natural beauty of the South Carolina coast.

Myrtle Beach State Park was the first South Carolina State Park, opened in 1935 on land that was donated from the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. Featuring 312 acres of pristine maritime forest and scenic oceanfront, this park provides visitors with a wide range of outdoors activities that guarantee a good time for everyone in the family.

Oceanside picnic shelters offer the perfect place to take a break from a hot day on the beach for a bite to eat, and a fishing pier with a full-service bait shop give guests a great spot for angling or simply sightseeing over the ocean. Get tips from the bait shop staff for catching king or Spanish mackerel, drum, blue, spot, trout and whiting.

In addition to the undeveloped and relatively secluded stretches of beach, Myrtle Beach State Park also offers lots to do away from the coast. Hiking trails lead through the dense, old-growth forest for views of wildlife and unique trees and plant life. See rare birds of prey, turtles, snakes, crabs along the tidal creeks and ponds in the park.

An education center provides guests with a wealth of information about both the park and its inhabitants. Learn about the loggerhead sea turtle, which digs its nests on the beaches and deposits hundreds of eggs. The hatchlings eventually crawl their way out of the sand and make their way to the sea before returning to repeat the cycle someday.

Just 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach resides one of South Carolina’s top treasures in Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet. This 2,500-acre preserve features the scenic beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry plus some amazing amenities you won’t find anywhere else on the East Coast, such as the lovely Atalaya Castle on the beach.

This Spanish-style castle, built by the Huffington family who once owned this former rice and indigo plantation, features a large courtyard with palmetto trees and native flowers. Guests can tour the castle and learn about the rich history of the South Carolina rice culture that once dominated the coastal regions of the Southeast.

But the most beautiful aspects of this park aren’t the manmade structures, but the natural resources of this diverse ecosystem. See towering sand dunes filled with sea oats drifting in the ocean breeze, tidal creeks and salt marshes that are home to a wide range of coastal creatures, such as alligators, egrets, blue crabs and raccoons.

The nature center overlooks the expansive salt marsh and gives guests a bird’s-eye view of the unique habitat. Learn about the many animals that call the marshlands home, and see them in action from the observation deck. Bird watchers and nature lovers will be in awe of the abundance of bird species and the towering live oaks that make up this scenic landscape.

Both state parks offer camping facilities for those who like to rough it, but the casual nature-lovers can experience the best of the great outdoors by day and the best of the great indoors at night by staying at Compass Cove Resort.


(Posted: 1/9/15)

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