Waites Island – Waites Island, South Carolina - Atlas Obscura

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Waites Island

Waites Island, South Carolina

A wildlife-filled oasis just off the coast of Myrtle Beach. 


In a city as lively as Myrtle Beach—with its beaches, bars, and even mini golf courses packed with people—it can be easy to want a little peace and quiet after a few days of fun. Enter Waites Island, a nature preserve off the coast of Myrtle Beach with pristine beaches, wildlife-filled marshes, and priceless peace and quiet.

Described as “one of the last undeveloped barrier islands in South Carolina,” Waites Island is a stretch of untouched nature. It was long home to the Waccamaw people before the arrival of Europeans, and their burial sites and other artifacts have been found across the island. In the mid-1900s, it was given to Coastal Carolina University as a grant by Anne Tilghman, whose father, Horace, had purchased it from the Waties family. (A typographical error is to blame for the shift from “Waties” to “Waites.”)

Today, the island is used as an educational research facility by Coastal Carolina University, but open to the public through certain tours. Its marshes and beaches are home to a wide array of wildlife, including bald eagles, blue herons, osprey, ducks, and in the summer, dolphins and sea turtles. Its beaches are pristine and ideal for lounging, but you can also explore the island through a kayak tour, where you’ll learn about the area through its tides, animals, and even shells. You can also catch a horseback riding tour if you want to explore the island on land.

Know Before You Go

You’ll need to book a tour in order to visit the island. Your options are a horse tour (via Inlet Point Plantation Stables) or a kayak tour (via Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions or J&L Kayak Tours). Be sure to book in advance. You’ll also likely want to bring things like water, sunscreen, and a towel so that you can enjoy the beach. Be sure to pack out any trash you bring in with you to keep the preserve clean.

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September 4, 2023

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