Tran­quil­ity awaits near Myr­tle Beach

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - By Beth J. Harpaz

MYR­TLE BEACH, S.C. — Condo tow­ers with ocean views. King Kong hang­ing off a mini-Em­pire State Build­ing. A zi­pline, es­cape room and he­li­copter rides. Myr­tle Beach is all of this and more. But just a few kilo­me­tres from the city’s busy board­walk and road­side at­trac­tions, a dif­fer­ent type of thrill awaits. Here, the Wac­ca­maw River me­an­ders through a cy­press swamp in a wildlife refuge. Span­ish moss drapes the trees, tur­tles sun them­selves on stones and spi­der lily plants bloom with bright white flow­ers. Spend a few hours kayak­ing the calm wa­ters and who knows what you might en­counter. A drag­on­fly could land on your arm. A wa­ter snake could slither by. A bright yel­low bird might pierce the quiet with a loud call as it flits from tree to tree, but good luck pro­nounc­ing its name (pro­thono­tary war­bler). Duck your head if a low-hang­ing branch comes up too fast to pad­dle around, and move to the side if the mod­ern world in­trudes — mo­tor­boats turn up on the wa­ter­way, too. I did a two-hour kayak trip with a group of friends, book­ing through the Black River Out­doors Cen­ter. Our guide, Mandy John­son, was bril­liant at spot­ting wildlife and gen­er­ous with her knowl­edge. And her love of the nat­u­ral world was in­fec­tious — we smiled as she picked a flail­ing white moth out of the wa­ter and let it cling to her hat un­til its wings dried. The kayak out­ing was one of many ex­cur­sions I took on a five-day get­away to the Myr­tle Beach area. But while I en­joyed the des­ti­na­tion’s other plea­sures — in­clud­ing brunch at the Tu­pelo Honey restau­rant and a visit to Fat Harold’s, a North Myr­tle Beach club fa­mous for the swing dance known as the Carolina shag — the kayak trip stands apart. Ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­i­ties are easy to come by in a place like Myr­tle Beach — not to men­tion restau­rants, bars, fire­works and shop­ping. What’s harder to find is tran­quil­ity. But there it was, in a kayak.

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