We took all day to drive the eight hours from Cordele, Georgia to our next stop at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. We would truly be snowbirds here as our stay would be for a month. We are taking advantage of a special winter season discount rate offered at five South Carolina coastal parks. Normally stays are limited to 14 days at this park. To attract winter campers the park allows one 30 day stay at a discounted rate. The campground has 135 sites. When we arrived only 30 or so sites were occupied. This is one of the few times of year you could expect to get a “walk in” vacancy. When beach weather hits this park is booked solid months in advance. Over Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend that number doubled. We were able to get a site with 30 amp electric, water and sewer for the equivalent of $18.23 per night. Our site is large and open allowing for a lovely sitting area near the campfire pit and excellent satellite TV reception.Sites with only electric and water are more secluded with trees and bushes separating the sites. Since being here the weather has been unseasonably mild with temperatures in the 50s-70s. I’m walking around in capris and sandals! No, make that shorts and sandals. Can this really be January? This is why I moved south. The only snow I want to see is on TV! I just looked and for the first time in 2 weeks we’ll be having 3 days this coming week where highs are in the mid forties and nighttime temps in the upper 20’s. Yes, that is coastal South Carolina in January.
Some states use the term Resort Park for their flagship parks with numerous amenities. While South Carolina doesn’t use this term Huntington Beach State Park would certainly qualify. It is located 30 miles south of the highly developed area of Myrtle Beach and about the same distance north of historic Georgetown, South Carolina. Charleston, SC is only an hour or so away if we run out of things to do but that isn’t likely. Although I’ve been to Charleston several times and always enjoy it, Steve has not been to historic Charleston so we plan to go at least once to see the Battery , the Aquarium, the Charles Pinkney NHS and the Hunley. Huntington Beach has 2 public access beaches but as campers we have several short trails to the beach. Dogs are allowed on the beach on leashes. While not “allowed” many owners do let the dogs off leash as long as others aren’t close by and dogs are under control. Kite flying on the beach is easy as the wind is almost guaranteed. Biking is popular and a 4 mile ride within the park can be supplemented by the Murrell’s Inlet to Litchfield bike path. A causeway over wetlands is a very popular birding and photography spot. Other trails lead to shelters for viewing the many pelicans, herons, egrets, ibis, sandpipers, gulls and an occasional eagle. The park was established from land originally owned by Archer and Anna Huntington when they built their winter home, Atalaya, here in the 1930s. Atalaya is maintained by the park and open for tours. More about this and Brookgreen Garden later. Kayaking is popular and while there are no put-ins at the park there are public landings very nearby.
Murrell’s Inlet calls itself ‘the seafood capital of South Carolina’ and the waterfront along US 17 BR is dotted with locally owned restaurants and seafood markets. Looks like we’re in for another oyster, shrimp and fish fest! Adjacent communities of Litchfield, Pawley’s Island and Georgetown also offer many excellent local restaurants, beaches and wetlands for birding. So far we’ve eaten at Nance’s. They claim to be the oldest and largest seafood restaurant in Murrell’s Inlet.
Our time here will be a lot more relaxed than many of our stops. We have some maintenance and personal errands to catch up on and friends visiting from North Carolina. There will be time to see Le Miserables and perhaps an IMAX movie or stage show in Myrtle Beach.