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Everyone knows about the Myrtle Beach oceanfront. Featuring a 60-mile stretch of white sand beaches, the Grand Strand attracts millions annually to soak up the sun, sand and surf where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Carolina coast. But there’s another side to local life, one that is accessible only by boat through the backwaters around Myrtle Beach. Here are the top five riverboat cruises to take if you want to see a different side of the Strand:
Barefoot Princess: Take a relaxing ride down the Intracoastal Waterway aboard this luxurious riverboat cruise. Moored at the Barefoot Marina behind Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, the three-story, 64 x 24 foot vessel takes up to 130 passengers for an amazing tour of a side of the Grand Strand most vacationers never see. Check out the views of beautiful homes on both banks and the scenic sight of sunset to the west from the observation deck, or enjoy music and dancing in the air-conditioned areas on the first two floors. The Barefoot Princess offers three different tours the Sightseeing Cruise, Sunset Cruise and Dinner Cruise. Reservations can be made at www.mbriverboat.com.
Brookgreen Gardens: This former rice and indigo plantation turned botanical garden is best known for the beautiful works of art and nature that adorn the 9,000-acre property, and the Lowcountry Wildlife and Petting Zoo and Gullah Cultural Center are also popular attractions among guests. But the best-kept secret about this Murrells Inlet destination are the riverboat cruises that are offered to guests during the fall months. Visitors board small boats to tour the tidal creeks and rivers that border the property. The Big and Little Pee Dee Rivers, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Waccamaw River converge nearby to create swampy and scenic photo ops, and passengers can also see the old rice fields, alligators and rare birds of prey. For more information, visit www.brookgreen.org.
Plantation River Tours: The South Carolina Lowcountry is filled with old plantation homes, rice fields, slave quarters and other relics from the state's antebellum history, but most were built on the water and are reachable only by boat. The rivers that surround the Waccamaw Neck area in Murrells Inlet offers access to another place in time, and Plantation River Tours has a variety of boats and tours to choose from. The Waccamaw Lady is a 60-foot pontoon boat that carries passengers on a lazy ride past several points of interest, and your captain/tour guide Dale Prox is a local historian with a wealth of information about the area. The Waccamaw Cooter is an elongated air boat that takes passengers for a wild ride through the backwaters of the Lowcountry. For more information, visit www.plantationrivertours.com.
Rover Boat Tours: Why take a riverboat when you can take a rover boat? This 40-foot pontoon boat sails out of Winyah Bay in Georgetown and carries passengers for a slow ride along the coastline for views of bird sanctuaries, lighthouses, shipwrecks and the abundant wildlife that call the Lowcountry home. This 3 to 4 hour trip offers a unique view of the waters and wetlands along the barrier islands of the South Carolina coast. For more information, visit www.roverboattours.com.
Wacammaw River Tours: The Waccamaw River is a winding waterway that runs from Lake Waccamaw just over the North Carolina border to Winyah Bay in Georgetown, SC. Consisting of dark waters that wind through dense woodlands and pristine wetlands, the Waccamaw offers a scenic view of the Grand Strand's natural side. Among the many sites passengers can encounter are a national wildlife refuge, former rice plantations and the Wacatee Zoo, where it's not uncommon to see an elephant taking a bath in the river and other exotic animals roaming the shore. Enjoy a glass of wine while you wind down the Waccamaw and soak up all the sights and sounds. For more information, visit www.waccamawrivertours.com.
Come explore by boat, and see what all there is to offer! Enjoy your stay at Paradise Resort, Myrtle Beach!