Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations, and snorkeling is one of the most common activities for people to do right off the beach. Snorkeling is a fantastic way to see the underwater world up close, without having to venture too far into the sea, and there’s not a ton of equipment required. But snorkeling in Myrtle Beach does come with a specific set of rules.
It is possible to snorkel in Myrtle Beach in specific spots, usually off-shore and accessible by boat. In other areas of Myrtle Beach, the water is very murky, so it’s not ideal for spotting much sea life. The ocean itself around Myrtle Beach can be dangerous for snorkeling due to changing tides, currents and limited visibility.
If you have an upcoming vacation planned to Myrtle Beach, and you’re wondering whether or not to add snorkeling to your plans, this article is for you. Or, if you love snorkeling and are curious about Myrtle Beach being a potential future destination, then this article is for you, too. Keep reading for everything you need to know about snorkeling in Myrtle Beach.
Can You Snorkel in Myrtle Beach?
Snorkeling in Myrtle Beach is not impossible. There are specific areas that have been mapped out for snorkeling, and guides to help you do it. Of course, it’s fun to be able to strap on a pair of fins and a snorkel and walk right into the ocean from the sand, but the Atlantic Ocean’s waters off the Myrtle Beach coast don’t allow for much visibility.
Underwater visibility is one of the most important factors in safe and effective snorkeling. The ebb and flow of the tides on the shores of South Carolina stir up sand and sediment in the water that clouds your vision when you are underwater. The movement of the water itself can also hinder visibility and make snorkeling more difficult. Read my post on how wind, weather and currents affect visibility for more info.
In addition to the fact that there’s no way to really see any of the ocean life up close with these conditions, they also make for a potentially hazardous trip. Rip currents are one of the most dangerous conditions that can come out of nowhere in the ocean, so being caught can be life-threatening.
Safe Snorkeling in Myrtle Beach
Even though the conditions aren’t ideal right off the beach, there are places in and around Myrtle Beach that allow for good snorkeling. There are even some dive shops and local businesses that provide guides for those that want to snorkel.
Find a Guide
Hiring a guide is one of the best methods to snorkel safely, especially in an area like Myrtle Beach. Guides are typically local people and experienced snorkelers. They know the area well, so they’re aware of any potential threats.
Guides are also very aware of what sea life is lurking in the waters where you’ll be snorkeling, which is key. There are plenty of dangerous sea creatures, and it’s best to know about them before an encounter, and ideally, you’ll be able to avoid them.
The most popular shop I could find in Myrtle Beach while researching this post is Coastal Scuba, so contact them online or give them a call. Tell them AquaSportsPlanet.com sent you.
Many of the water sports shops in Myrtle Beach host snorkeling excursions. When you sign up, they’ll take you to a location that they know to be a safe and exciting snorkeling spot. Their goal is for you to have a fun trip, so they’ll do their part to ensure that happens.
There are group boats that will take you to the locations if you choose to go with a larger group on a planned snorkeling adventure. Or, you can go the route of chartering a private boat with a captain, and the boat will be much smaller.
Either way, you’ll be getting transportation to a well-known snorkeling location that will hopefully have plenty of things to see. And, you’ll be traveling with someone that knows the waters well and has your safety in mind.
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What do You Need for Safe Snorkeling in Myrtle Beach
Now that you’ve planned the who and the how of your snorkeling adventure, it’s time to plan the what. There are a few pieces of equipment that you must have when snorkeling in Myrtle Beach. These things will make your adventure as safe as possible, which will, in turn, make your adventure as fun as possible.
Because the water off Myrtle Beach does have limited visibility, a full mask will give a better range of view. The above link is for the Deep Sea O2 full-face mask. It is one of the top-rated quality masks in the full-face category. It fits angular faces well. For those of you who have a slightly rounded face shape, I have always recommended the Sea-Beast AF90
This mask and snorkel combo is also great because it makes breathing much easier. With the whole face being covered and the snorkel being attached, it reduces the risk of breathing in water through your nose. I’ve written about the safety of full-face masks before. Though concerns were raised in 2018, there haven’t been any studies or reports since with actual data showing they are dangerous. Stick with the top-quality manufacturers and practice removing the mask quickly before your first trip.
A solid pair of fins can make or break your snorkeling adventure. Fins that allow for more movement are easier to use since they don’t restrict your foot as much as stiff ones. The above link gives you a list of fins on Amazon. For a lot more choices, read my buyer’s guide for snorkel fins.
If at all possible, invest in a pair that has swivels on the side. This feature allows more flexibility when your foot is bending while kicking and helps to propel you through the water more efficiently, without compromising in comfort.
Remember, once you have fins on your feet, the only way to walk is backward. Trying to walk forwards will only end in disaster. I often put on and remove my fins while in the water.
Even the most experienced swimmers can get caught in the dangerous currents off the shore of Myrtle Beach. A lightweight, non-restrictive, snorkeling vest will keep you afloat in the event that you do get stuck in a rip current.
Also, vests will prevent you from getting exhausted from the constant movement needed to stay on top of the water. Wearing a vest is a great safety measure, but it also makes snorkeling a lot more enjoyable.
All of the sediment from the surf and the rivers that empty into the Atlantic near Myrtle Beach makes it hard to see. An underwater flashlight will help with visibility. It’s also a good safety tool to keep on hand. Many of them come with wrist straps so that you can wear them around your arm and not have to actually hang on to them.
Motion Sickness Prevention
Whether it’s a medicine or another measure, the waters around Myrtle Beach are known to cause motion sickness. If you don’t get sick on the boat ride to the snorkeling location, it’s possible to still get tossed around in the surf while snorkeling. This is when a lot of people become the sickest. Taking preventative measures will help you avoid this.
What You’ll See When You Snorkel in Myrtle Beach
If you do choose to snorkel right off the beach, don’t expect to see a lot of sea life, and prepare to get a lot of saltwater in your snorkel from all the waves. But, if you choose to join a snorkeling excursion that ventures a little farther into the ocean, you might have better luck with the sea creatures.
The waters off the North Myrtle Beach shore is home to a few shipwrecks, both of which are known scuba diving sites. Snorkeling in the area is a great way to see these sights, without having to go too far into the deep blue. You’ll see not only the boats but also the sea life that’s made the area their home.
Myrtle Beach is definitely not a known as a premier snorkeling destination, thanks to murky waters and dangerous currents. But that doesn’t mean vacationers can’t snorkel in Myrtle Beach. With the right equipment and a guide, it is possible to snorkel in Myrtle Beach.