One blessing of COVID has been the gigantic push to get adventuring outside.
Bikes, paddle boards and kayaks flew off the shelves as people desperately sought any kind of connection outside of the house in the beauty of nature. Something we’ve always encouraged you to do and is the major focus of our travels.
We love experiencing kayaking in new destinations, and the East Coast of the USA offers boundless opportunities with its access to the Intra-coastal Waterway, the ocean and its many rivers.
We can’t wait for it to warm up so we can escape for a beach vacation with our paddle boards.
However, as you can see from the sweaters worn on our Myrtle Beach kayaking pictures below, we also do it during the winter time as well. It’s an easy activity to do during the colder months as the chances are falling into the water are slim, and if you know how to paddle right, the backsplash minimal.
Thanks to our kayaking tours with Black River Kayaking, we were able to learn the correct way to paddle to do this!
On two separate trips to Myrtle Beach, we experienced two different kayaking tours. One through the salt marshes at Huntington Beach State Park in South Myrtle Beach, and the other a little more inland on the Waccamaw River.
Both were serene, informative, and full of wildlife and beauty.
Salt Marsh Kayaking tour, Huntington Beach State Park
Our guided kayak tour with Black River Outdoors began in the Murrell’s Inlet salt marsh at the border of Huntington Beach State Park.
Huntington Beach State Park is on the coast of South Carolina. Its Atlantic beach and wetlands are inhabited by sea turtles, alligators and rich birdlife.
Our guide, Paul was quick to let us know that Huntington Beach State park has some of the best bird watching on the East Coast. (A fact we discovered on a later Myrtle Beach vacation where we saw scores of bird watchers throughout the park!)
As an Aussie we know what it’s like to be surrounded by an abundance of birds, each with their own personality and quirks. It’s one of the things I miss most about Australia.
So it was wonderful to paddle through marshlands thriving with birds such as egrets, herons, cormorants, eagles, vultures and osprey.
We even saw a kingfisher standing on the tip of the grass. It looked so much like its relative, our very own kookaburra. Unlike the kookaburra, this kingfisher is a fish eating bird and doesn’t have the laugh of the kookaburra, more like an evil cackle.
For two hours we paddled under the warm sun through the marshlands learning more about the history of the area and the ecology of the marshlands. Paul was a friendly and knowledgeable guide on this gentle and easy paddle.
It didn’t end up being an alligator adventure for us, as they were starting to move to warmer waters.
During the warmer months, you have a good chance of seeing them out in the marshlands doing a little lunch hunting. Don’t worry, they are not interested in you!
Kayaking Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh is a top family-friendly activity near Myrtle Beach, SC.
Read this post for more ideas on family things to do in Myrtle Beach, (including beyond the beach!)
Explore more in Huntington Beach State Park Region
- Huntington Beach State Park is stunning on land or water, so choose to spend time exploring more of this South Carolina state park. You’ll find easy trails, a boardwalk, and a wide white sandy beach.
- Stop in at Murrels Inlet Marshwalk for lunch (or dinner). The Marshwalk is a ½ mile wooden boardwalk along a natural saltwater estuary.
- Brookgreen Gardens is a national historic landmark that hosts the largest collection of outdoor American sculptures in the world.
- There is also a small zoo, an Enchanted storybook Forest, a butterfly house and boat rides and trekker excursions taking you deeper into the property. Most impressive to me were the magnificent live oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss.
Myrtle Beach with Kids Video
Kayak the Waccamaw River
All holiday vacations need an equal dash of shopping, spiced warm wine, croissants, and heart elevation in the great outdoors.
Don’t worry, nothing too extreme, just a gentle paddling to suit the slower winter tempo. It was one of the gentlest kayaking paddles we’ve done; the first half I barely had to lift the oar.
The moderately moving Waccamaw River took us downstream past bald cypress, their leaves recently stripped with the changing of the seasons.
We met all manner of birds: turkey vultures, Anhingas, and kingfishers. Turtles lay sunning on logs all the way along the two-hour paddle. By the end of it, our eyes had relaxed enough to spot them ourselves.
Our guide Robert’s skillfully trained eyes spotted a ribbon like green tree snake. After some time of peering and kayak maneuvering, I was able to spy it slithering its way along the vines.
And the highlight of any swamp kayak adventure, paddling past an alligator – its eyes and snout peaking above the waterline until the moment he realized we were just too darn scary to look at any longer and soundlessly he slunk underneath the tannish colored water of this black river.
It was the most peaceful and serene way to spend the morning, especially during this time of social distanced travel.
There was not another soul in sight, just us and our guides, respectfully keeping their distance but teaching us so much about the ecosystem of this region as we went by.
In this time of chaos and uncertainty when you don’t know each morning when you wake what on earth this year is going to deliver to us today, this was the perfect therapy needed to escape to a moment in time where none of that chaos exists.
Just let me sit here silently listening to the bird’s call and connecting to the perfection of Mother Nature.
Read more from our 3 day itinerary for your Myrtle Beach vacation
Both kayaking tours were hosted by Black River Outdoor and Visit Myrtle Beach
While Here: Visit Historical Conway
With oak-lined streets and historical buildings, it’s known as one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. Pick up a map from the visitor center to do a self-guided tour of the many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You probably don’t want to miss the donuts from Trestle Bakery. They were something special!
Other cool places to visit in the South East
And don’t miss these places close to Chattanooga in Georgia and North Carolina
- Amicalola Falls State Park
- Unicoi State Park and Anna Ruby Falls
- Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa
- Bryson City, North Carolina
Comment: Have you found any special places to kayak on the East Coast? (or anywhere else)