The Grand Strand is a 60-mile stretch of Carolina coast that surrounds Myrtle Beach. Most of you know about – the white-sand beaches, award-winning golf courses, and neon-lit restaurants, shops and attractions. But there is a large part of the Strand few ever see, or know about.
No matter which road you take, you can't get there. It requires some serious off-roading and four-wheeling to weave your way through the backcountry trails and backwater swamps, where some of the most pristine (yet incredibly muddy) wetlands and woodlands in the Southeast serve as nature's playground. Don't forget to bring an experienced guide to help you find your way home.
Whether you want some mud-slinging fun or some relaxing exploration, you can find it (if you look hard enough) in the Myrtle Beach area. Here are some of the best places to get down and dirty and go off the Grand Strand grid:
Carolina Backwoods: The name says it all at this backwoods property near the Carolina border. Offering ATV rentals with all the safety gear and equipment, Carolina Backwoods is located on a densely wooded property that offers a number of trails to choose from based on your comfort level for filthiness. Get covered with mud from head to toe on the swamp of the swampier sections, or stay high and dry on other trails that are fun but won't require a change of clothes. The two-hour tours are guided but experienced and fun-loving guides who know the woods like the backs of their muddy gloves. Test your driving skills on obstacles and cut a donut in the dirt for a serious off-road adventure.
Carolina Safari: If you love the idea of getting off the beaten path but prefer to let someone else do the driving, Carolina Safari might be right up your alley. Offering guided jeep tours that take you to places you can't reach in a minivan, this Myrtle Beach-based business ventures deep into the backwoods to take you to some amazing sights. See the Lowcountry swamps and former rice fields and plantations on the south side of the Strand. In addition to enjoying the natural scenery, passengers can learn about local history, wildlife and even ghost stories of lore. Visit barrier islands and discover the Gullah culture while you explore the South Carolina coast. This is one of the few off-road adventure tours that is fun and safe for the whole family.
Island Adventure: This watersports outfit is more into the wet stuff than the mud, but it offers some awesome backwater tours that go to some isolated spots that can’t be reached by ATV. Because of the Strand’s abundance of wetlands, it takes a watercraft to cover it all. Besides, what is a jet-ski but an ATV without wheels? The Jet-Ski Backcountry Adventure is a two-hour frolic through a natural setting of cypress swamps and dark-water swamps. Explore the Intracoastal Waterway and its many tributaries aboard a high-powered jet-ski and see a wide range of wildlife, like alligators sunning on the shore or birds of prey fishing for their supper. Bring the little ones along for the ride on the back of your jet-ski, or opt for a paddle boarding or canoe tour through the swamplands.
Horseback Rides of Myrtle Beach: The name says Myrtle Beach but the location is in the nearby town of Loris, where stables and trails await horseback riding fans. During the summer months, this outfit offers guided tours of the rural trails that run through the woodlands and wetlands. During the winter months, horseback rides down the beach are added to the tour list.