Keller Williams The Trembley Group Real Estate Professionals love living in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand. What’s not to love? Great weather, more than a hundred professional golf courses, excellent entertainment, fantastic shopping, and, of course, the areas number one attraction, the Grand Strand – more than sixty miles of broad, clean, white sandy beaches.
Early Native American Settlements. The Grand Strand’s first inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians. They named the region Chicora, meaning “the land.” Long before Europeans settled along the Grand Strand, Kings Highway – what’s now US 17, a major thoroughfare through the Myrtle Beach area – began as an Indian trail. This trail ultimately became the route from the northern states to Charleston and Savannah.
These first Native American inhabitants are the subject of some of the oldest and most elusive stories of the area. While much has been written about Native Americans, documented facts about local tribes in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area are scarce. Physical evidence of their existence and way of life has been more forthcoming, as arrowheads, pottery, and other artifacts continue to turn up.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Long Bay as the area is also called, was inhabited by the native Waccamaw Tribe. The Waccamaw used the river for travel and fished along the shore around Little River. Waties Island, the primary barrier island along Long Bay, has evidence of burial and shell mounds, reminders of the resident Waccamaw Indians.
Spanish Settlement. The first attempts by European explorers to settle the Grand Strand were a disaster. Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Allyon founded the first colony in North America here in 1526. The colony was ravaged by disease, and the settlement and its inhabitants were gone within a year.
English Settlement & Colonial History. A new chapter in the Grand Strand’s history began when the English colonists settled in the area. Suddenly, goods and supplies needed to be imported and exported across the ocean. By the 1700s, scores of pirates had taken to the high seas to intercept cargo vessels and make off with the goods.
The South Carolina coastal waters were especially productive for pirates, and the many coves and inlets along the Grand Strand provided great hiding places for the marauders. Local Pirate legends include Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard because of his coal-black beard, and Drunken Jack, who was left behind on an island with a stash of stolen rum. It is said that Jack died with a smile on his face.
In 1730, the English colonists formed Prince George Parish and laid out plans for Georgetown, the state’s third oldest city and the southernmost point on the Grand Strand. Surrounded by rivers and marshlands, Georgetown became the center of America’s colonial rice empire.
Prior to the American Revolution, most of the area along the Grand Strand was uninhabited. Even when the American colonies gained independence, the area remained virtually unchanged and mostly undeveloped. George Washington scouted the Southern states during his presidency, traveling down the King’s Highway. He stayed a night at Windy Hill.
Initial Development. On February 28, 1899, Burroughs and Collins, the predecessor of modern-day Burroughs and Chapin, received a charter to build the Conway & Seashore Railroad to transport timber from the coast to inland customers. The railroad began daily service on May 1, 1900, with two wood-burning locomotives.
After the railroad was finished, employees of the lumber and railroad company would take train flatcars down to beach area on their free weekends, becoming the first Grand Strand tourists. The railroad terminus was nicknamed “New Town”, contrasting it with the “Old Town”, or Conway. In 1901, Burroughs and Collins built the beach’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn. At that time, oceanfront lots sold for $25, and buyers received an extra lot if they built a house valued at $500 or more.
After its founding, New Town continued to grow until 1957, when it was incorporated. A contest was held to name the town, and Burroughs’ wife suggested honoring the locally abundant shrub, the Southern Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera). So, the town was named Myrtle Beach.
Further Development & Expansion. In the 1920s, a group of businessmen began building an
upscale resort called Arcady, at the north end of the community. Arcady featured the present Pine Lakes International Country Club — home of the Strand’s first golf club and the birthplace of the magazine Sports Illustrated — as well as the legendary Ocean Forest Hotel.
Several major developments took place along the Grand Strand during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1936, the Intracoastal Waterway was opened to pleasure boats and commercial shipping. During the 1940s, an Air Force base was established and used for training and coastal patrols during World War II. The base was closed in 1993.
The Top Ten Places to Live on the Grand Strand
The Grand Strand stretches along the Atlantic Coast for more than 60 miles. White sandy beaches, pristine Oceanside communities, and plenty of beautiful neighborhoods on the Grand Strand make it the perfect place for homebuyers looking for a beach home. Divided into ten communities, potential homeowners can choose a locale that suits their lifestyle.
Ready to learn more about South Carolina’s Grand Strand? Let’s start at the northernmost point and head south.
- Little River
The town of Little River is generally regarded as the northernmost point of the Grand Strand. It is South Carolina’s oldest, and one of the most unique towns along the greater Grand Strand. Known for its fresh seafood, fishing charters, annual blue crab festival, and historical, centuries-old live oak trees, it is one of the last communities on the Grand Strand where a slower pace of life still exists.
The town’s protected location on the mainland gave it status as a fishing village when Myrtle Beach was nothing but sand and bushes. George Washington spent the night here in 1792 but rode right past what is now Myrtle Beach. Little River hosts a fewer number of overnight Grand Strand visitors, but it still manages to attract the attention of homebuyers with its good restaurants, great sports fishing, fresh seafood, golf, and casino ships. And Little River is just a few minutes’ drive to all the Grand Strand’s famous attractions, signature golf courses, unique variety shows, shopping, and world-class entertainment.
With two Las-Vegas-style casino gambling boats docked in Little River, locals and tourists flock to the waterfront twice a day, every day, for world-class casino gambling excursions into international waters where gambling is legal.
The Intracoastal Waterway begins its inland tack to Georgetown at Little River, and much of life in Little River is centered on boating, fishing, and watersports. Marinas line the area and waterway, as do seafood restaurants, boats, and outfitters.
Little River is home to generations of charter and commercial fishermen and shrimpers. Folks who love fishing can choose between half-day party-boat fishing trips near the shore, or spend an entire day fishing in the deep waters of the Gulf Stream.
For those who’d rather play than fish, the Little River waterfront offers an opportunity to jet ski or pleasure boating from the local marinas.
Little River residents enjoy a quality unlike any other community on the Grand Strand.
A few minutes drive west from Little River are the communities of Loris and Longs.
- North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach has great beaches and many excellent restaurants. The oceanfront there is lined with cottages and condos rather than high-rise hotels. Barefoot Landing is also there and offers first-class entertainment and shopping. Only about 15 miles separate North Myrtle Beach from Myrtle Beach on US 17, the main highway from North Myrtle Beach to Myrtle Beach.
North Myrtle Beach is the perfect place for a laid back lifestyle. The quaint, historic town is made up of communities like Windy Hill, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive, and Cherry Grove. Fishing, boating and waterfront dining are highlights of this town, as are attractions like Barefoot Landing. North Myrtle Beach has wide, sandy beaches that tend to be a bit less crowded than the ones located in Myrtle Beach and points south.
- Myrtle Beach
Many folks believe the city of Myrtle Beach is the Grand Strand, but it is not. The city of Myrtle Beach is only a small stretch of beach that is part of the 60 mile stretch of sand known as “The Grand Strand”. The city of Myrtle Beach offers dining, shopping, entertainment and numerous neighborhoods that are oceanfront and non-oceanfront.
Myrtle Beach is the heart of the Grand Strand. With fun family beaches, over one hundred championship golf courses, tennis courts, outlet malls, specialty shops, live musical theatre, nightclubs and a wealth of family attractions, Myrtle Beach is the place to be for convenient access to all of the Grand Strand activities.
Conway is a short drive 15 miles west of Myrtle Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. It is Horry County’s seat. The downtown area of this historic river town is home to a unique array of shopping, dining and scenic views. Founded in 1734, Conway is rich with both American and natural history.
A drive through the town will take visitors down streets of historic Craftsman-style homes built around live oaks that are protected by a tree-ordinance designed to preserve the town’s “Oldest Citizens.” Historical markers dot the downtown landscape, providing curious visitors with an idea of the area’s past.
Conway is home to the Theatre of the Republic, a decades-old live performance venue where locals and visitors alike take in shows year-round. A short walk from downtown is the Riverwalk, which is a mile-long wooden boardwalk that winds along the Waccamaw River’s blackwater.
- Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach is the first city south of Myrtle Beach. Family-friendly and easy-going, Surfside Beach residents enjoy a part of the Grand Strand that is less developed. There aren’t high-rise hotels and condominiums in Surfside Beach. Residents enjoy oceanfront and near-oceanfront communities of beach houses and low-rise condominiums. Oceanfront restaurants and piers, as well as less crowded beaches, make living in Surfside Beach one of the most pleasant places to live along the Grand Strand.
- Garden City
Garden City offers the best of both Grand Strand worlds. Garden City homeowners can enjoy quiet solitude or happening hot-spots. With access to both the ocean and Murrells Inlet, the area is great for fishing, crabbing and water sports. Beach houses and condominiums are the norm in Garden City. A new Creekwalk spans the salt marsh, and is a pleasant and peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of the area.
The Northern portion of the community is host to plenty of beachfront houses and high-rise condominiums. Garden City is a great place to live. The city offers easy access to the beach and the many seafood restaurants in nearby Murrells Inlet. The views across the inlet marshes are some of the most beautiful on the Grand Strand.
- Murrells Inlet
The historic fishing village of Murrells Inlet is known as the “Seafood capital of South Carolina” because of the fresh seafood drawn from its waters and served at the many restaurants lining the waterfront. Residents head to the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk to enjoy some of the best seafood specialties anywhere, as well as enjoy breathtaking views of the waterfront. There are many outdoor activities available in Murrells Inlet, including deep sea fishing charters, boat tours, individual boat rentals, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, and jet skiing. One of the best attractions along the Grand Strand is nearby Brookgreen Gardens, boasting beautiful sculpture and a garden that is a highlight of all of the Carolinas.
“The Seafood Capital of SC” Murrells Inlet is a fishing village that has became world famous for its excellent seafood restaurants and great views of its salt marshes.
- Litchfield Beach
Named after the 18th-century Litchfield Plantation, Litchfield Beach has a quaint, modern atmosphere. Lovely mossy oak tree lined settings surround eclectic shopping and dining opportunities, while miles of wide sandy beaches and world-class golf courses add to the things residents do in picturesque Litchfield. The Litchfield community offers a variety of beach houses and condominiums.
Litchfield Beach is an upscale community that sprang from the mind of a real estate developer. The once-upon-a-time collection of plantations is now a resort, designed to appeal to homeowners through a blend of history, golf, and beaches. The resort area offers a variety of options, from high-rise condominiums to family beach houses to magnificent estate homes, with all the amenities homebuyers expect.
- Pawleys Island
Pawleys Island is one of the oldest resort areas on the east coast and has a distinctly southern feel. Some claim Pawleys Island is the oldest resort area in America. This area was home to some of the most affluent planters on the continent. They didn’t grow tobacco or even cotton-rice, and indigo (used for a blue dye) were the crops of choice. To escape the heat and malaria of their mainland plantations, many moved their families to cottages on Pawleys Island for the summer. Remarkably, some of the cottages are still standing and still in use. Nine of them comprise the Pawleys Island “Historic District”. The rest of the narrow island barely keeps some 600 houses out of the water.
Four miles of sandy beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere, make this laid back island a perfect retreat. Village-style shops, wonderful golf courses and top-notch dining create the area’s undeniable appeal. Residents of the Pawleys Island area enjoy kayaking, biking, fishing and shelling. The Pawleys Island mainland is also home to McKenzie Beach, the first resort developed by and developed for Afro-Americans on the east coast. McKenzie Beach was once the only place Afro-Americans could stay between New York and Miami. While Little River was host to George Washington, McKenzie Beach was host to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Little Richard, and many others.
The beautiful oak canopied streets of Georgetown are among the most peaceful places in the Grand
Strand area. A majority of these old oaks have what is called “Tree Moss” growing and hanging from them. Georgetown was formed in 1729. For over a hundred years after its founding, the port was busy shipping the rice and indigo grown on the nearby plantations.
Georgetown has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. Front Street was redeveloped; bringing in restaurants, galleries, antique and specialty shops. There’s also a walking tour taking visitors down shaded streets past scores of antebellum buildings. When the sun of the beach becomes too much, this is a good place for Grand Strand residents to recover.
Oceanfront homes line the beautiful sandy shores of the Grand Strand from Little River all the way down to Georgetown. Whether homebuyers are looking for a dream home come true, a place to retire or a vacation home that’s a potential investment, the Myrtle Beach area offers oceanfront homes that suit every need in a variety of communities. The Grand Strand has a diverse array of cities and properties, and no one is better equipped to help homebuyers sort through the options than a Professional at the Keller Williams Trembley Group Real Estate.
At The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice.