While it may be best known for its endless array of family-friendly attractions, oceanfront amusement parks and showstopping entertainment, North Myrtle Beach also offers secluded spots where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy a little quiet time.
Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions specializes in guided paddling trips to some of those out-of-the-way places, among them Waites Island, an unspoiled barrier island near the North Carolina border.
Located just across the inlet from Cherry Grove Beach, the 1,062-acre undeveloped barrier island is inaccessible by car, leaving the shoreline virtually deserted. It's one of the few islands along the South Carolina coast where visitors can experience a natural beach with no development.
Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions is the place to start for a Waites Island tour. The trip runs about four hours and starts at the Cherry Grove Boat Landing on House Creek. Tours are scheduled to catch the outgoing tide, making the trip to the island a leisurely paddle. Much of House Creek is bordered by great expanses of salt marsh that are frequented by hungry blue herons, great egrets, marsh hens, black skimmers and oyster catchers. The birds feed on fish, insects and crustaceans that inhabit the shallow tidal waters of the creek.
At low tide, bottlenose dolphin may be seen hunting for redfish in the channel. With little motorboat traffic in the creek, it's a peaceful 30-minute paddle to Waites.
Once beached on the south end of the island, you'll have a couple of hours to roam the shoreline or swim in the surf. Shelling can be especially productive during the receding tide. Birders also will enjoy watching large flocks of foraging shorebirds, among them terns and piping plovers. Other avian visitors to the area include osprey, ducks, brown pelicans and the occasional bald eagle.
In the summer, you may spot a loggerhead sea turtle popping its head up in the waves. These large reptiles nest on the island, laying their eggs in the dry sand close to the dunes.
The return trip will be just as easy as you paddle with the incoming tide to the landing about a half-mile up the creek.
Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions offers single and tandem kayaks and all the gear you will need for your paddling trip, including life jacket, paddle and a dry bag to store items you don't want to get wet. For more information on the Waites Island Kayak Tour or to make a reservation, call 843.241.4588 or click here.