Five Fun Things To Do on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast
Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist destination on the coast of South Carolina, but just a few miles south on the Grand Strand lies a welcome escape from the crowds and traffic. The region is aptly named “The Hammock Coast” and includes five relaxed communities, Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, Pawleys Island, and Georgetown.
While the Hammock wasn’t invented there, many say Pawleys Island is the humid place it was perfected. In 1889, a riverboat captain named Joshua John Ward was frustrated with traditional naval canvas hammocks when he created the popular woven cotton rope hammock with wooden spreader bars that is now known as the Pawleys Island Hammock.
Clearly the area has much more than Hammocks to offer, and we recently had the chance to visit South Carolina’s Hammock Coast to see for ourselves. We began our visit at the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet which is home to some of the best waterfront dining on the Grand Strand. Located in the heart of the historic fishing village, the Marshwalk offers a selection of eight appealing restaurants, each bustling with active bars and live music. We love to dine on the water, but we highly recommend the more interesting views of the marina and marsh over views of endless ocean when you have the choice.
Coastal South Carolina is home to some of the best Golf in the country, and no doubt that is what attracts many people to vacation in the area. However there is much more to see than just fairways, greens, and club houses. So for this feature we wanted to focus on the water and history of the region. Please enjoy our list of Five Fun Things To Do on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.
1) Brookgreen Gardens
First on our list is Brookgreen Gardens, the largest and oldest public sculpture garden in the United States. You could easily spend a full day on their 9,100 acre property that includes walking trails in addition to the meticulously groomed sculpture gardens. Built on four former rice plantations and created by a donation of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1931, Brookgreen Gardens showcases Mrs. Huntington’s famous animal sculptures along with the work of many other artists.
While the sculptures are the star attraction, Brookgreen is also home to a Native Wildlife Zoo, which features many species indigenous to the area. Everyday, Brookgreen offers a selection of tours and programs, and adult tickets cost $15.
2) Carolina Rover Boat Tours
A Shelling and Lighthouse Cruise aboard the Carolina Rover was definitely a highlight of our trip to the Hammock Coast. The 3 to 4 hour tour on a shaded pontoon boat departs from Historic Georgetown and makes its way on smooth inland waters to South Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, built on North Island at the mouth of the Winyah Bay in 1811. The narrated cruise tells the story of that Georgetown Light, the sunken USS Harvest Moon, and Georgetown’s shrimping fleet while also keeping an eye out for dolphins, bald eagles, and alligators.
While the journey is enjoyable, the destination is the real treat on this cruise, as the captain beaches the pontoon boat and lets everyone off to collect shells on the remote North Island. Even if you aren’t first off the boat, there is plenty for everyone to find, and enough time to walk on the beach before heading back to town. The cruise costs $38 for adults, and we recommend that you bring a bag for your shells and a personal fan, as the cruise itself can be very hot without a breeze.
3) Hobcaw Barony
Hobcaw Barony is a 16,000 acre property dedicated to research and education that was also once a plantation. While now known primarily for its private research facilities, Hobcaw does offer a $20 two-hour bus tour of the property that is highlighted by a guided tour of Hobcaw House. The house welcomed Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and other leaders of the 20th century when it served as a winter hunting retreat for Bernard Baruch, an investor, philanthropist, and presidential advisor. No photographs were permitted inside during the fascinating house tour, to help preserve the original furnishings that were once used by those great men.
The guided tour covers the history of the property and many of the powerful men who owned it and visited. However the most interesting tales surround the daughter of Bernard, Ms. Belle Baruch, who was clearly a woman before her time. She was a noted equestrian, athlete, sailor, hunter, and pilot. She purchased the land from her father and upon her death in 1964, preserved her legacy with the Belle W. Baruch Foundation that established the property as a nature and research preserve.
4) Huntington Beach State Park
To get a break from the history and golf that surrounds you on the Hammock Coast, we recommend spending a few hours at Huntington Beach State Park. It’s home to a wide open pristine beach that is far removed from the crowds you’ll encounter in Myrtle Beach. The park costs just $5 per adult, and also offers camping, fishing, and picnic shelters.
While we didn’t get a chance to visit, the Park also is home to the Atalaya Castle, which served as the Huntington’s (same family as Brookgreen Gardens) sprawling oceanfront home. This truly unique Moorish-style home has 30 rooms, including bear pens and art studios, but no formal living room or any guest rooms. Atalaya admission is another $2 per person.
5) Hopsewee Plantation
Last on our list is the beautiful Hopsewee Plantation, which was definitely an interesting place to visit. It was built circa 1740 as a major rice plantation, and was the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This National Historic Landmark was constructed of black cypress, which is a resilient material that allowed the original structure to survive all these years.
A one-hour guided tour is offered for $20, and photographs are permitted inside the house. However please note that none of the furnishings inside the home are original, and they belong to the current owners of the house, who actually currently reside inside the home. The tour includes a look at the brick floored cellar and two original slave cabins that still stand on the grounds. Mosquitos are plentiful on the property though, so make sure you make use of the bug spray they offer at every exterior door. You can also enjoy lunch or tea onsite at the River Oak Cottage Tea Room.
The Inlet Sports Lodge
During our visit to the Hammock Coast, we were hosted at the Inlet Sports Lodge, which was truly a remarkable place created by outdoor enthusiasts. It’s located just minutes from the Marshwalk at Murrells Inlet, and offers everything you’d need for a golf or fishing trip to the region. It’s affiliated with some of the finest courses in the area, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club and True Blue Plantation, and they offer great packages. Check out the luxurious property and rooms in our photos below :
Road Trip Vehicle : 2017 Acura MDX Hybrid
We drove over 1000 miles on our trip from Baltimore to the Hammock Coast of South Carolina, and did it in style thanks to the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid. It was perfectly suited for our trip with a compelling combination of capable luxury, sporty performance, and impressive efficiency.