January 22, 2024 12 min read

Explore creeks, channels, and South Carolina's Intracoastal most loved waterway

Myrtle beach

Myrtle Beach, a beloved coastal paradise nestled along the shores of South Carolina, has long been renowned for its sun-kissed beaches and vibrant entertainment. But beyond the bustling boardwalks and amusement parks lies a hidden treasure trove of natural wonders waiting to be explored. For kayak enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, Myrtle Beach offers a plethora of breathtaking waterways that beckon with serene beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Let us share with you the 12 best places to explore Myrtle Beach by kayak. This handpicked selection of picturesque locations will leave paddlers awe-inspired. Whether you're an experienced kayaker seeking adventure in swift currents or a leisurely explorer searching for tranquil marshes, Myrtle Beach has something for every skill level and inclination.

Get ready to paddle through winding creeks, meander along lush marshes, and immerse yourself in the coastal charm of these carefully chosen kayaking destinations. From the peaceful serenity of Murrells Inlet to the thrilling majesty of the Great Pee Dee River, each locale promises an unforgettable experience that brings you closer to nature's bounty.

So, don your life jacket, grab your paddle, and embark on a journey through the 12 best places to kayak in Myrtle Beach. Let's dive in and discover the hidden gems that make this coastal haven a kayaker's dream come true.

Kayaking in Myrtle Beach

Kayaking in Myrtle beach

So what makes Myrtle Beach so great for kayaking? Here are some of the distinct characteristics that set Myrtle Beach apart as a fantastic location for both recreational kayaks and ocean kayaks alike.

  1. Diverse Waterways
  2. Scenic Beauty
  3. Rich Wildlife
  4. Year-Round Kayaking
  5. Suitable for All Skill Levels
  6. Guided Tours and Rentals
  7. Eco-Tourism Opportunities
  8. Relaxing and Meditative Experience

The best weather conditions for kayaking in the Myrtle Beach area typically involve a combination of mild temperatures, calm winds, and low chances of rain. It is important to remember that weather conditions can change rapidly, so it's essential to check the local weather forecast and tidal charts before heading out for your kayaking adventure in Myrtle Beach. 

Best Inland Waterways and Rivers To Kayak in Myrtle Beach

Sit-inside kayaks are often thought the best vessel to take on inland waterways and rivers. Here are a few locations to give you inspiration for your next trip to Myrtle Beach.

Black River

Kayaking the Black River is a mesmerizing journey that transports paddlers into a world of pristine beauty and natural wonder. Nestled within the heart of South Carolina's Lowcountry, the Black River winds through a lush and untouched wilderness. As you navigate its meandering waters, the peaceful ambiance is accentuated by the towering cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, creating a timeless and almost otherworldly space.

Black River's clear and dark waters give you a mirror-like reflection of the surrounding greenery, making it a photographer's paradise. The river's gentle current is perfect for leisurely paddling, allowing ample time to observe the abundant wildlife that calls this haven home. So be sure to pack your camera for this unmissable paddle.

Waccamaw River

Bridge over the Waccamaw river, South Carolina

The enchanting Waccamaw River in Myrtle Beach offers an unforgettable kayaking experience. With its calm and meandering waters, the Waccamaw River promises a serene escape into the heart of nature. Paddle beneath a lush canopy of ancient cypress trees, their majestic branches creating a cathedral-like atmosphere. As you glide along the tranquil river, keep an eye out for a diverse array of wildlife, from graceful herons to playful river otters. 

This is a kayaker's dream, where the rhythmic flow of water soothes the soul, and the unspoiled beauty of South Carolina's Lowcountry unfolds around every bend. Whether you're a seasoned paddler seeking serenity or a nature enthusiast seeking closer encounters with the wild, kayaking the Waccamaw River promises an unforgettable journey through one of Myrtle Beach's most captivating natural wonders.

Lynches River

Lynches River is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers, offering abundant opportunities to spot a variety of bird species, including graceful herons, majestic egrets, and colorful wood ducks. As you paddle, keep a keen eye on the riverbanks, as glimpses of deer, turtles, and other wildlife are a common occurrence along the way. The river's calm current makes it ideal for both novice and experienced kayakers, allowing you to fully savor the sights and sounds of this captivating ecosystem.

Kayaking Lynches River is not just an outdoor adventure; it's a chance to connect with the natural heritage of the region and gain a deeper appreciation for the delicate balance of its ecosystem. The untouched beauty and peaceful surroundings promise an unforgettable kayaking experience as you weave through South Carolina's Pee Dee region.

Great and Little Pee Dee River

Kayaking the Great and Little Pee Dee Rivers in Myrtle Beach is exhilarating. These waterways showcase the majesty of South Carolina's river landscapes. As the name suggests, the Great Pee Dee River is a larger waterway, offering kayakers thrilling adventures with its varying currents and occasional rapids. Experienced paddlers will love navigating the more challenging sections, where the river's beauty is matched only by the adrenaline-pumping excitement of the ride in river kayaks.

On the other hand, Little Pee Dee River is a gentler counterpart, providing a more tranquil and relaxed kayaking experience. As you meander along the banks of the Little Pee Dee River, you'll be immersed in a serene environment, surrounded by dense forests and green wetlands. This river is perfect for leisurely exploration, wildlife observation, and those seeking a peaceful communion with nature.

Both the Great and Little Pee Dee Rivers offer opportunities to encounter a myriad of bird species, diverse wildlife, and the unspoiled beauty of South Carolina's countryside. Whether you crave the excitement of navigating thrilling currents or prefer the calm embrace of a gentle river, kayaking the Great and Little Pee Dee Rivers in Myrtle Beach promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Palmetto State's natural wonders.

Best Marshes and Estuaries To Kayak In Myrtle Beach

For paddling marshes and estuaries, a sit-on-top kayak is often considered the best choice. Sit-on-top kayaks offer stability and maneuverability advantages that make them well-suited for navigating unique and diverse environments.

Huntington Beach State Park

Aerial view of Huntington beach state park

Kayaking Huntington Beach State Park in Myrtle Beach is a delightful experience that combines the best of nature and outdoor adventure. The park's freshwater lagoon, known as "Mullet Pond," is perfect for kayakers seeking a serene paddle surrounded by picturesque scenery and diverse wildlife. 

After a day of paddling, visitors can explore the park's pristine beaches, nature trails, and the famous Atalaya Castle, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a well-rounded outdoor escape.

Murrells Inlet

Murrells Inlet is one of the most popular places to visit in Myrtle Beach. Kayaking here is a captivating journey into one of Myrtle Beach's most picturesque saltwater estuaries. Paddling through the winding channels, kayakers are treated to breathtaking views of marsh grass, oak trees, and abundant birdlife. 

With its calm waters and tranquil ambiance, Murrells Inlet offers kayakers an opportunity to immerse themselves in the serenity of coastal nature and witness the wonders of South Carolina's Lowcountry. This place is suitable for all levels of kayaking ability.

Waites Island

Heading up to Waites Island is like stepping into a pristine coastal oasis. Accessible only by boat, this undeveloped barrier island is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. As you paddle towards its sandy shores, the unspoiled beauty of Waites Island unfolds before your eyes. The rolling dunes, maritime forests, and secluded stretches of beach are mesmerizing. There is a sense of pure tranquility here.

Make sure you paddle right up to the shore and enjoy a stroll along the sand to discover seashells and other beach treasures. The island's untouched environment offers ample opportunities for wildlife sightings, with birdwatchers often treated to sightings of shorebirds, sea turtles, and even playful dolphins dancing in the nearby surf. 

For those seeking a unique and off-the-beaten-path kayaking experience, Waites Island beckons with its natural allure, providing a rare chance to connect with the coastal wonders of Myrtle Beach's untamed wilderness.

Cherry Grove Marsh

An aerial view of cherry grove marsh, South carolina

Cherry Grove Marsh is a stunning and serene environment, offering kayakers breathtaking views of lush marsh grass, coastal flora, and picturesque tidal creeks. The natural beauty of the marsh is also a haven for wildlife. Kayakers often encounter a variety of birds, including herons, egrets, ospreys, and pelicans. In addition to birds, you may also spot marine life such as dolphins and various fish species.

The creeks and channels in Cherry Grove Marsh generally have calmer waters, making it suitable for kayakers of all skill levels, including beginners. The protected nature of the marsh helps to shield paddlers from strong winds and waves, providing a smoother and more enjoyable kayaking experience. So whether you seek relaxation, nature exploration, or photography, Cherry Grove Marsh offers a memorable and enriching kayaking experience for all.

North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve offers a captivating and enriching experience for all kayakers. As part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, this protected area in South Carolina provides unique opportunities to observe and learn about the delicate balance of coastal habitats and their importance in supporting diverse wildlife.

You can kayak the labyrinth of tidal creeks, salt marshes, and coastal wetlands. The network of waterways provides an ever-changing landscape to explore, with the tides dictating the flow and direction of the currents. The serenity of the estuarine environment offers a peaceful escape, so you can completely disconnect from the outside world.

The North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve offers guided kayak tours led by knowledgeable naturalists and researchers, providing valuable insights into the ecology and conservation efforts within the estuarine ecosystem. 

Best Saltwater Creeks and Channels To Kayak In Myrtle Beach

Sit on top kayaks are the top choice again for kayaking on saltwater creeks and channels. These kayaks give you a higher vantage point so you can see more from your boat.

Hog Inlet

Kayaking Hog Inlet is a tranquil escape into a serene coastal wilderness surrounding Myrtle Beach. This secluded saltwater creek offers you a peaceful journey through marshy landscapes and winding waterways. 

As you glide along the gentle currents, the natural beauty of Hog Inlet unfolds, with its dense vegetation and picturesque marsh grasses providing a perfect backdrop for wildlife sightings, making it a hidden gem for kayaking enthusiasts seeking a tranquil and immersive coastal experience.

South Carolina's Intracoastal Waterway

Bridge over the Waccamaw river, South Carolina

Kayaking South Carolina's Intracoastal Waterway offers a unique and captivating adventure along the state's picturesque coastline. This expansive waterway provides you with a diverse range of paddling opportunities, from exploring serene salt marshes to gliding past charming coastal communities. 

As you navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the scenic beauty of barrier islands on the other. With its abundant wildlife, fascinating history, and scenic charm, kayaking the Intracoastal Waterway offers a memorable and immersive experience into the heart of South Carolina's coastal treasures. This is definitely not to be missed if you are kayaking in the area!

Little River Inlet

Kayaking Little River Inlet near Myrtle Beach is an enchanting journey through a coastal paradise. This scenic waterway offers a picturesque setting for paddlers to explore, with its serene tidal creeks and salt marshes providing a glimpse into the region's natural beauty. The tranquil atmosphere feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of nearby Myrtle Beach.

For those seeking a touch of history, Little River Inlet is steeped in maritime heritage, with charming fishing communities and seafood restaurants dotting the shoreline. Paddlers can enjoy a unique blend of coastal culture and natural exploration as they navigate through this captivating inlet.

Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a novice looking to experience the coastal charm of Myrtle Beach, kayaking Little River Inlet promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of South Carolina's coastal treasures. 

Popular Kayaking Routes In Myrtle Beach

People kayaking on beautiful myrtle beach

Of course, you can link up some of these destinations to make an epic and unforgettable kayaking route to paddle. Here are just some of the most popular routes to check out to get your brain ticking.

1. Murrells Inlet and Huntington Beach State Park

A mix of serene marshes, pristine lagoons, and coastal charm, the Murrells Inlet and Huntington Beach State Park kayak route promises an unforgettable and rewarding paddling experience. 

Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape into the coastal wilderness, this kayak route offers a captivating journey through the heart of Myrtle Beach's natural treasures.

The length of this route can vary depending on the specific route taken by paddlers and the duration of stops and detours along the way. The primary route from Murrells Inlet to Huntington Beach State Park covers approximately 5 to 6 miles (8 to 9.5 kilometers).

2. Waccamaw River and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

The Waccamaw River and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge kayak route is a captivating and scenic paddle through one of South Carolina's most pristine and ecologically diverse waterways. The route typically begins on the Waccamaw River, a blackwater river that winds its way through cypress swamps and lush forests, creating a serene and picturesque environment for paddlers.

The kayak route offers a variety of options, allowing you to choose your desired distance and duration. Paddlers can opt for shorter routes within the refuge or embark on longer journeys that span multiple days, camping along the riverbanks for a true back-to-nature experience.

This kayak route offers a magical and immersive experience into the heart of South Carolina, perfect for anyone wanting to discover the area's untamed beauty. 

3. Cherry Grove Marsh and Waites Island

The Cherry Grove Marsh and Waites Island kayak route is a fascinating and diverse paddle that combines the beauty of marsh ecosystems with the enchantment of an undeveloped barrier island. The route typically begins in Cherry Grove Marsh, where paddlers can explore serene salt marshes, winding creeks, and tidal inlets.

The Cherry Grove Marsh and Waites Island kayak route provide a sense of seclusion and tranquility, allowing paddlers to connect with nature in its purest form. Always be aware of tides and weather conditions and prepare for a longer paddling excursion, as the round trip to Waites Island and back covers several miles and can be tiring.

The awe-inspiring coastal vistas, abundant wildlife encounters, and the unique experience of kayaking to a remote barrier island make the Cherry Grove Marsh and Waites Island kayak route a truly unforgettable adventure in Myrtle Beach's coastal paradise.

Safety and Preparation For Kayaking In Myrtle Beach

Man and a woman wearing a life jacket while kayaking

Even though the waters may appear calm and serene, it is still super important to keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Always remember your safety measures while kayaking. Wear a PFD, carry your phone in a dry bag in case of an emergency, and know your exit points along the route.

Essential safety gear checklist:

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD): 
  • Whistle or Horn
  • Bilge Pump or Sponge
  • Paddle Leash
  • Emergency First Aid Kit
  • Map and Compass/GPS
  • Sun Protection
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing
  • Water and Snacks
  • Waterproof Storage
  • Cell Phone or Communication Device
  • Tide and Weather Information
  • Kayak Safety and Rescue Knowledge

Always be sure to plan ahead and do your research into the water you will be kayaking. Check the weather forecast so you don’t get caught out unaware. And most importantly, know what the tide is doing, especially on saltwater creeks and estuaries.

Wrapping Up

Myrtle Beach offers a plethora of remarkable kayaking destinations that cater to a wide range of interests and skill levels. From the tranquil waters of the Waccamaw River and serene Cherry Grove Marsh to the enchanting estuarine beauty of Murrells Inlet and Little River Inlet, each location presents a unique and captivating paddling experience.

So whether you're seeking peaceful communion with nature, thrilling encounters with marine life, or educational opportunities to learn about coastal ecosystems, Myrtle Beach has it all. The region's marshes, rivers, estuaries, and barrier islands offer endless possibilities for adventure and relaxation on your kayaks.


🏆 Where is the best place for beginners to kayak in Myrtle Beach?

Murrells Inlet is the best place for beginners to kayak in Myrtle Beach. This spot offers a calm and sheltered environment that is ideal for novice paddlers to learn how to paddle. The inlet's protected waters and gentle currents make it a safe and enjoyable location for those new to kayaking to gain confidence and practice their paddling skills.

👍 What type of kayaking can I do in Myrtle Beach?

Myrtle Beach is fantastic for ocean kayaks and exploring calm riverways. The range of ecosystems offers insight into the natural world, giving you a front-row seat to the birds and marine life in the region. Myrtle Beach is perfect for explorative kayaking and photography from your boat.

🏝️ Can I rent kayaks in Myrtle Beach?

Yes! There are plenty of rental shops around Myrtle Beach offering you equipment and tours. If you are visiting the area and want to learn more about the ecosystem or history, joining a guided tour is a great way to see the location.

❓ What other watersports can I do in Myrtle Beach?

Myrtle Beach is not just limited to kayaking. You can enjoy a whole array of watersports in the area. From jet skiing and parasailing to kiteboarding and snorkeling, this is a water lovers' haven! We recommend grabbing a stand up paddle board as an alternative experience.

Jay Regan
Jay Regan

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