Fun times in Myrtle Beach, plus great kayaking

MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA – Kitschy but tons of fun.

Last time I was here I didn’t have time for the massive SkyWheel that dominates the landscape near the boardwalk here.

This time, I made sure to check it out.

I’m not one for heights but it was quite enjoyable and about $13 for 10 minutes. The lights were quite spectacular around the downtown/Peaches Corner area, where there are lots of arcades and beach stores and t-shirt shops and a Jimmy Buffett restaurant.

I had a great meal down in Murrells Inlet, about 20 minutes south of downtown, earlier in the evening. I stopped in at Wicked Tuna for some sushi and an absolutely outstanding appetizer of raw yellowtail in a ponzu sauce with cilantro and a bit of chile pepper. Absolutely stunning, and the sauce was so good I wanted to drink it.IMG_3982

Murrells Inlet is full of quirky pubs and bars, such as Bubba’s Love Shak, where I sat on a rocking chair and sipped a Sweetwater Pale Ale from Georgia. I also like the Dead Dog Saloon and Creek Ratz and Drunken Jack’s. It’s right on a beautiful, marshy inlet with a boardwalk that goes for hundreds of metres, and plenty of colourful places to eat. Local fisherfolk were dipping their lines in search of flounder and other tasty treats.

It’s a really fun part of the area that’s casual and colourful and funky and fun, and I highly recommend it. I also was struck at the beauty of the natural surroundings of Myrtle Beach earlier in the day, when I did a two-hour kayak tour with the folks at Black River outfitting.

We toured the Waccamaw River and several surrounding bodies of water, touring past osprey nests and towering bald cypress and tupelo trees and didn’t see another boat in 120 minutes. The water is easy to navigate with a guide and there are hardly any gators around. Even if you saw one, alligators don’t think of humans as food and are really no concern at all, I was told.

IMG_1001A wonderful, wonderful way to spend some time and get away from the noise and bustle of the world. And thanks to Paul Laurent for the excellent guiding and information. He told us the river is black, for example, because of the tannins in the leaves of the bald cypress trees that fall in the water and practically stain it. It doesn’t look appetizing, but he said the black water in this part of South Carolina has nutrients and chemicals in it that allow it to stay fresher far longer than clear water, which made it a prized commodity when ships would return from North America to Europe in the old days. He also found a couple tree frogs for our group to take a look at.

Interesting stuff. And a beautiful part of the state.

Monday night I had a wonderful drink with citrus and soda and tequila at a fun spot called Collector’s Cafe, which is an art gallery meets bar/restaurant. Really cool, with awesome art on the walls and a real change from what you might expect in Myrtle Beach. Dinner was at the Brentwood Restaurant north of town, a fine old home that is said to be haunted (the owner showed me some pretty spooky video). The head chef, Eric Masson, takes traditional low country Carolina dishes like crab cakes and fried green tomatoes and adds classic, French twists. It’s a nice effect, with lovely presentation and some very tasty offerings. The fried green tomatoes with goat cheese were lovely and the roasted duck was wonderful.

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