The Grand Strand is actually comprised of several small coastal towns and villages, stretching from Calabash to the North, where seafood reigns supreme, to the historic port city of Georgetown to the South. Located on the Calabash River, just north of Little River Inlet, Calabash might remind you of a New England fishing village.
Working boats, cruise ships and pleasure vessels line the waterfront, lending a seafaring atmosphere to the picturesque village. Calabash is the self-proclaimed "Seafood Capital of the World," and when you sample seafood "Calabash style," you'll realize these folks have something special going! Don't expect to get any recipes for the famous seafood dishes to take home, however; this particular style of cooking is Calabash's most closely-guarded secret!
Crossing into South Carolina, you'll first encounter the inlet village of Little River, where throngs of fishing vessels head out to sea daily, bringing back the precious cargo that fuels the engine of this community. Charter boats are plentiful and, every morning, visitors flock to the docks to book their fishing trips and try their own luck.
Just below Little River, the pace picks up considerably. The tourist-packed oceanfront strip of Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach and Windy Hill combine to make up the exciting resort area of North Myrtle Beach. During the peak summer months, the populations swells from a modest 8,000 to more than 80,000.
It's here that the "Shag," South Carolina's official state dance, was invented, and "Beach Music" began. When one of the local bands cranks out a soulful favorite and the shaggers take to the floor, it is a spectacle you just will not find anywhere else in the world!
Farther South, tucked in between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find yourself right in the thick of things... a collage of restaurants, shops, glittering resorts hugging the oceanfront, lavish golf courses and amusement parks. This is "vacation central;" family entertainment at its best.
Right below Myrtle Beach is the beginning of the South Strand, offering all the plusses of big- city resorts in Surfside and Garden City, but minus the snarls of traffic and the press of crowds. .
At Murrell's Inlet, you might feel like you've made a wrong turn and ended up in a town foreign to the blistering pace of the resort communities. Fortunately, you have. This quaint hamlet marks the gateway to Waccamaw Neck, where development is reigned in, neighbor knows neighbor and mossy live oaks create the feelling of an enchanted place.
The "Inlet," Litchfield Beach and Pawley's Island offer visitors a true hands-on experience with the riches of the South Carolina "Low Country."
Residents are quite proud of their rich history and their ties to the families of rice planters. It's a perfect place to stop and savor a home-cooked meal at one of the many waterfront and roadside restaurants, rock a while on the porch swing of a century-old cottage while listening to the locals spin stories passed down through generations.
The Strand's official end is historic Georgetown, the state's third oldest city. Once a vital international port, Georgetown's livelihood was built around the area's once-thriving rice plantations. Today, several marinas cater to the traffic along the Intracoastal Waterway. Aside from its pretty waterfront location, Georgetown boasts an abundance of fine antique shops and historic homes.