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Ocean Reef Resort is filled with good things indoors - clean and comfortable accommodations, an indoor pool deck with hot tubs and a lazy river, and the Banana Boat Lounge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. But it's the things outdoors, both the beach in our backyard and all the wonderful places to explore around the Myrtle Beach area, that keep guests coming back year after year.
A big part of what makes the Grand Strand so grand is the great outdoors, and visitors have lots of options for exploring the places you can't reach by car or tour bus. From the backwaters of the South Carolina Lowcountry to the south to the wildlife at Bird Island to the north, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the east to the coastal woodlands to the west, our little corner of the coast offers nature in every direction. Here are five great ways to experience it all on the Strand:
* Biking/Hiking: Myrtle Beach recently added bike lanes to both the north- and southbound sides of Ocean Boulevard, allowing guests to go for a scenic trek just outside Ocean Reef's doors. Walk or pedal north through the exclusive Dunes section of town, or head south to the Golden Mile and Cabana Shores, which features a walking trail and workout equipment overlooking the beach. Those looking for a more challenging hike can connect to the nearby East Coast Greenway and the connecting Perrin's Path, or bike to the nearby Hulk, which features dirt nature trails along the Intracoastal Waterway.
* Jeep Tours: Sometimes it takes a four-wheeler to find all the jewels of the coast, and Carolina Safari Jeep Tours knows the way. Offering a variety of tours, Carolina Safari takes you to the back roads (and the off-roads) for a firsthand look at the history and mystery of the area. The Plantation Tour explores the old rice fields, slave quarters and plantation homes that were common in the Carolinas in the 18th century, or hit the Nature Trail Tour for some off-the-beaten-path fun.
* Kayaking: Escape the mainland and paddle out to the inlets and creeks along the Carolina coast in these seaworthy one-seaters. Ocean kayaks are great for use on the waters just behind Ocean Reef, but to truly get away from it all, check out local outfitters like Glass Bottom Kayak Tours or Jack's Surf Lessons & Board Rentals. Both offer excellent tours where you can discover a different side of nature, like the short trip to Waties Island for a day of shelling or the backwaters of Murrells Inlet for a laid-back ride through the Lowcountry wetlands.
* Sailing: Get away from it all off the coast and explore the ocean waters, or spend the day cruising down the Intracoastal Waterway in a sailboat or yacht. The Grand Strand is filled with opportunities to charter the vessel of your choice for a deep-sea fishing tour, dolphin-watching cruise or just a luxurious day of sailing. Due to the availability of ports, most outfitters are based in Little River to the north and Murrells Inlet to the south - either about a 20-mile drive from Ocean Reef.
* Scuba Diving: If this popular water sport is on your bucket list, this is the right place to add a check mark. The waters off the Grand Strand are a prime location for diving on shipwrecks and artificial reefs that are teeming with diverse sea life. Outfitters like Coastal Scuba and Express Watersports offer lessons in a swimming pool for safety that are designed to have you out on the open waters in no time.
This list hardly scratches the surface for outdoor fun (don’t forget about golf, parasailing, skydiving and more) on the Grand Strand. Make your plans to visit Myrtle Beach and Ocean Reef Resort, and see all the natural beauty of the Carolina coast for yourself.