Just 10 miles south of the water parks, themed drinks and Ferris wheel of Myrtle Beach is the sleepy little town of Murrells Inlet, the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” A historic fishing village full of natural beauty, quaint characters and colorful sunrises, this spot is a nature lover’s paradise. Visit Murrells Inlet to relax and enjoy the unobstructed ocean views, gardens and parks, fishing wharfs and antique shops. Enjoy the restaurants and the fresh-caught fish, and learn what it means to experience Lowcountry life.
If you’re enjoying a Bluegreen vacation at any of the Myrtle Beach resorts— Carolina Grande™, Harbour Lights™, Shore Crest Vacation Villas™ I & II or SeaGlass Tower™— an afternoon exploring this salty sanctuary is easy to make happen. Known for its wildlife-rich salt marshes, historic sites and legendary seafood, you’ll discover a world completely different from the Myrtle Beach experience, and one you may just fall in love with. The famed crime novelist Mickey Spillane sure did. Spillane, who created the detective character “Mike Hammer,” discovered the beauty of Murrells Inlet from the cockpit of a fighter plane on training maneuvers during World War II and lived there the rest of his life. He became one of the town’s leading advocates and today a segment of the main local highway is named in his honor.
Slow Down and Smell the Sea Breeze
As soon as you roll your windows down, you’ll experience what Mickey Spillane and so many others have loved about this special place—the cool, clean air that accompanies only well-preserved coastal towns. There are no high-rises; neon is minimal. Instead, you will feast your eyes on miles and miles of salty marshes, wading birds, piers and fishing boats. The occasional gator may be seen cruising through a canal and you’ll always spot a few buoys marking crab traps.
Murrells Inlet prides itself on its serene surroundings, fishing culture and hometown hospitality. It is quiet and cozy, but happy to help you discover its riches. Sign up for a fishing charter and catch your own dinner. Fish often found swimming these seas include mahi mahi, black sea bass, red snapper and tuna. Have your captain or first mate tend to your catch (as in clean and cut the fish), and store your fresh catch in an ice-packed cooler.
If you’re not the open-water type, opt for an eco-tour. Kayaks are a great way to explore the marshes and waterways of the area, letting you get up close and personal with the watery wildlife.
Let’s Not Forget the Food
Like we said, Murrells Inlet is a fishing village. If you’ve gone fishing, take your catch to a bar and grill. Most places will grill your steaks for you.
But you well may want someone else to rustle up your dinner as well as prepare it for you. If that’s the case, head down Highway 17 Business, where some of the most popular restaurants and restaurant/hangouts in Murrell’s Inlet have something in common: They’re all on Marsh Walk. They’re one after another between the highway and a half-mile boardwalk overlooking breathtaking unspoiled saltmarshes. You’ll find a variety of styles among the eight establishments but a single, spectacular setting. Let’s stroll from one end to the other.
Bovine’s is your place if you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or aged steaks grilled over mesquite and charcoal, not to mention pizza from a wood-fired brick oven. USA Today ranks Bovine’s among the “South’s Finest Restaurants.” It’s the one of three establishments on Marsh Walk that are considered fine-dining, Murrells Inlet-style—which is to say reserved but relaxed.
Or you might consider Drunken Jack’s. How fresh is the seafood? Let’s just say you had a better day than your dinner choice did. And what could be a more indigenous food experience than dipping hushpuppies in honey butter?
Captain Dave’s Dock Side is another fine-dining destination, respected for its cuisine and acknowledged by Travel Channel for “the best waterfront atmosphere.” Its outdoor alter ego, Bubba’s Love Shak, offers an entirely different vibe, as the name suggests. The menu features “Bubbatizers” such as “Chillium’s Shuck & Suck” (oysters on the half shell) as well as oyster, creek shrimp and flounder po boy sandwiches and barbecued brisket dinners (or rather “Bubba Q Briskey”). But you also can enjoy drinks and live music and take home Bubba’s Love Shak souvenirs from shirts to sunglasses.
Creek Ratz serves sandwiches salads and seafood, and stands out because of a kids’ play section to go along with tasty food and drink, indoor and outdoor seating, and great live music.
Dead Dog Saloon keeps the kitchen going late night so lovers of live music won’t go hungry as they sip their favorite drinks under the stars on the exceptionally large outdoor deck.
Finally, Wicked Tuna—which opened in April—specializes in sushi, spirits and an unbeatable view of the nearby marina and the spectacular marshlands beyond, especially at sunset.
But whether you enjoy Murrells Inlet for its great beauty, fishing or restaurant selections, you’ll be truly taken with this paradise not far from your Bluegreen resort. It’s truly one of the grandest segments of the Grand Strand.