Newcomer’s Notebook

By Phil La Borie

Newcomer's Notebook

As a Connecticut Yankee now living in South Carolina, I must admit that I’m incredibly enthusiastic about the Grand Strand beaches – they are such an improvement over my beach options in the Northeast that I’ve entitled this piece:

By the Sea, by the Beautiful See.

So, for starters, what’s the problem with the beach options in my former hometown? Well, for one thing, since I didn’t live in a beachfront community in Connecticut, if I wanted to spend a day at my nearest public beach during the summer, it would cost $30 a day during the weekend and $50 for the privilege on the weekends and holidays. And, if I felt like visiting throughout the season, a non-resident beach emblem would run me $220 and could cost as much as $440 for other non-residents depending on where their car was registered! Yikes!

I could, of course, elect to go to my nearby state park beach, but then I’d have to compete with hundreds of Canadian Geese for a parking spot and hundreds of other visitors looking to snag a picnic table and a spot on the beach. All that would cost a non-resident $15 a day during the week or $22 a day on the weekend.

All of this expense for the pleasure of swimming in water that rarely gets much warmer than 70 degrees all summer long and comes complete with an unobstructed view of the Northpoint hydroelectric plant on the north side of Long Island Sound belching steam into the sky.

I don’t want to sound too negative here, Connecticut beaches are really OK; it’s just that I’ve found Grand Strand beaches to be so superior and such a delight!

For starters, our beaches stretch a full 60 miles north and south with an ocean view so wide and expansive, I swear I can see a very slight curvature to the horizon; further evidence that the earth is actually round! For me, the views and the setting are inspirational. Whether I’m walking, swimming, shelling, reading or just sitting and thinking, there’s something in the air that sparks my creativity!

Further, since I now live in Murrells Inlet, I can either walk or ride my bike to the beach. That option comes complete with free parking. Should you desire to drive to the beach, public parking costs just $6 a day and is free in many areas. You can even use your cell phone to extend your stay and pay your bill – simply contact park-by-phone.com. If you get to the beach early enough in the morning, you’ll find numerous places along Ocean Boulevard and North and South Waccamaw Drive where the small parking lots are free of charge – but, remember, it’s first come, first served!

Here are some other facts about our lovely Grand Strand beaches to keep in mind:

• According to the South Carolina Climate Office, Myrtle Beach air temperatures from May through August average 86 degrees (F). Beach water temperatures average 20 degrees warmer than ocean temperatures for that time of year around New York City!

• There are numerous online sites to obtain information about shelling procedures (don’t remove any live shells) and tide times (shelling is best at low tide and in certain locations). My favorite site for complete, easy to access information is visitmyrtlebeach.com. In addition, from the Newcomer’s More than Anyone Needs to Know Department comes the information that there are more than 700 species of shells in South Carolina waters and the Lettered Olive is the state’s official shell. So there!

While I’m not sure how many Sasee readers will want to go fishing, for those who do, you will need to obtain a license if you want to surf cast, but no license is required should you wish to fish from a pier or a rental or charter boat. You can obtain a license online at dnr.sc.gov. If you’re walking the beach, surf casters request that you walk around their lines rather than under them, since you never know when they’re going to hook Moby Dick or its equivalent and you don’t want to interfere with their efforts.

• From May 1st to Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the beach before 10 am and after 5 pm. After Labor Day to April 30, dogs are allowed on the beach at any time. Regardless of the time of year, they must be on a leash at all times. Horses (should you have one handy) are permitted on the beach from the third Saturday in November through the end of February. Beach access for them (and their riders, of course) is available at Myrtle Beach State Park.

If you’re looking for pirate treasure or just loose change, the use of metal detectors on any and all beaches is permitted at any time.

• Alcohol is not permitted on any beach at any time; however bike riding is permitted after Labor Day until April 30.

• Setting off fireworks, unless under professional supervision is not permitted. From what I’ve seen, this is not strictly enforced.

• Whatever activity you’re enjoying, always remember to stay off the dunes. These are fragile and protected areas where birds, turtles and other species nest.

• Finally, a reminder that under South Carolina law, any person operating a golf cart must be at least 16 and hold a valid South Caroina driver’s license. And, should any problem occur, either on the beach or in the water, call 911 for help.

If it sounds like I can’t say enough good things ‘bout Grand Strand beaches, it’s true!

I walked Garden City Beach on Christmas Day last year and had the entire length of the beach practically to myself – as far as I could tell only five other people were sharing the experience with me. Try that up north!

Finally, to quote from Anne Lamott’s wonderful book, Bird by Bird, “…I am grateful for the ocean.” I hope you are as well.

About this writer

  • Phil La Borie Phil La Borie is an award-winning writer/artist based in Garden City, South Carolina. His work has been published in AdWeek, The Kaiser-Permanente Journal, Westworld Magazine and online at smilesforall.com. Phil is the 2015 winner of the Alice Conger Patterson Award offered through the Emrys Foundation. He can be reached at plaborie@voxinc.net.

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3 Responses to “Newcomer’s Notebook”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    My daughter is considering move to S.C. she loves it. The more I read about the amenities, the more I too would consider it for retirement.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Boy, I’m so glad I found you! My family and I just relocated here on Saturday from Ohio. We are excited and nervous, as we left our family and friends to start our lives here. I look forward to reading more from you.

    • Phil La Borie says:

      Glad you found the article helpful.

      See the September edition for more info. And more to follow after that.

      Best,

      Phil

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