Myrtle Beach laws and information

Swimming / Sun Bathing

Swimming is not permitted beyond 50 yards from the beach or over shoulder depth, unless otherwise stated by the lifeguard. Jumping or diving from piers is prohibited. Swimming within 50 yards of a pier is prohibited. Only canvas/fabric rafts may be used in the ocean. Rafts must be equipped with safety ropes. Swimwear is subject to city ordinances in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach. It is illegal for anyone to wear a thong bathing suit.

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Tents / Umbrellas

Horry County
Tents, tarps, cabanas and pavilions are banned on the beach year-round. Round umbrellas with a shade no greater than 7 feet, 6 inches are permitted.

Myrtle Beach
Tents are banned on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Round umbrellas with a diameter of 7 feet, 6 inches or less are permitted.

North Myrtle Beach
From May 15 through Sept. 15, only round umbrellas with a center pole no more than 7 feet, 6 inches tall and with a circular shade no larger than 9 feet in diameter are allowed on the beach.

To learn more about tent and umbrella regulations, click here.

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Boating / Surfing

Horry County
It is illegal to use any equipment in a manner that would endanger bathers, swimmers, surfers, or others in the water. Sailboats, motorboats, and Jet skis (or other personal watercraft) must remain at least 400 feet from the shoreline and 500 feet from any fishing pier, with the exception of entering or exiting the ocean. Sailboats, motorboats, and Jet skis may not be launched or retrieved within 50 yards of a lifeguard stand, unless otherwise designated.

Myrtle Beach
Boats may not be operated within 400 yards of shore at all times. Jet Skis (and other personal watercraft) may not be operated within 100 yards of the shore between May 1 and Labor Day; however, Jet skis may be launched and returned to the beach on a course perpendicular to the beach. Boats and Jet skis may not be launched from the beach or returned to the beach May 1-Labor Day in the area from 29th Ave. S. to 31st Ave. N., and from 69th Ave. N. to 77th Ave. N.

Surfing and kayaking are restricted to certain areas May 1-Labor Day. During those dates, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., surfing and kayaking are allowed only in these areas: from the terminus of the TA-80 Zone to the south city limits, from 37th Ave. N. to 47th Ave. N., from 62nd Ave. N. to 68th Ave. N., and from 82nd Ave. N. to the northern city limits. The area from the south side of 8th Ave. N. to the north end of the public boardwalk may be used for surfing or kayaking Labor Day-April 30. Surfing and kayaking are not permitted within 75 yards of any fishing pier. Kayaks launched and returned to the beach on a course perpendicular to the beach for use out of the surf zone are not subject to the previously mentioned time and area restrictions.

North Myrtle Beach
Motorized watercraft may not be launched from the beach from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 15-Sept. 15. Jet skis, catamarans, sailboats, or other watercraft may not operate within 100 yards of the shoreline or within 50 yards of any swimmer. Surfing is not allowed from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 15-Sept. 15, except in these designated areas: Cherry Grove Pier, 13th Ave. S., 27th Ave. S., 38th Ave. S., and 6th Ave. N. Surfers are required to wear a surfing leash at all times.

Surfside Beach
Access to the beach with a boat or Jet Ski is limited to the designated ramp at 4th Ave. S. Boats may not operate any closer than 50 yards from the shore, and Jet Skis may not operate closer than 150 yards from the shore between May 15-September 15. No watercraft may be transported to the water by vehicle. Surfing is not allowed from May 15th to September 15th from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Surfside Beach except in an area beginning 270 feet south of 12th Ave. N. and extending northward to 14th Ave. N., and in an area beginning 300 feet north of 13th Ave. S. and extending southward into Garden City.

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Fireworks

Possessing or discharging of fireworks is illegal within the city limits of municipalities along the Grand Strand. All establishments that sell fireworks within Horry County are required to post in a conspicuous location rules and regulations regarding fireworks.

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Driving On The Beach

It is unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle on the beach or within public marsh areas.

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Littering

Littering is illegal. Offenders may be required by law to assist officials in cleaning up the litter. All glass containers are prohibited on the beach.

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Campfires

It is illegal to build a fire or use a propane-fired grill or other cooker on the beach.

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Sea Oats

It is illegal to cut, break, or otherwise destroy sea oat plants, beach grass, or sand fencing.

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Cruising

Myrtle Beach
Cruising is regulated by the Myrtle Beach Police Department between 3rd Ave. S. and 21st Ave. N. on Ocean Boulevard from 2 a.m.-6 a.m. March 1-Oct. 1.

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State Laws

Seat belts must be worn at all times in a moving vehicle.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Penalties include a fine of more than $200 and loss of driving license both in South Carolina and the driver's home state.

It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to buy, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages.

Open containers of beer, wine, or liquor are prohibited in vehicles or any public place including streets, sidewalks, and beach areas.

Store purchases of alcoholic beverages are prohibited from midnight Saturday through midnight Sunday.

Vehicle headlights must be on if operating windshield wipers due to rain or poor road conditions.

Motorcyclists are required to use headlights at all times.

All children ages 17 and younger in a moving vehicle must be restrained at all times by means appropriate for the child's age and seating location, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Right turns may be made on a red light throughout the state, except where a sign denotes "No Right on Red." Remember, stop before turning and give way to traffic already in the intersection.

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Animal Laws

Horry County
Any animal on the beach must be on a hand-held leash not to exceed seven feet in length and under the control of the person having custody of the animal. Animals are not allowed on the beach from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1 - Labor Day.
It is unlawful to ride a horse or other animal on the public beach or within public marsh areas within the county limits March 1-Oct. 31.

Myrtle Beach
Dogs in public must be on a leash at all times. No animals are permitted on the beach or Ocean Boulevard from 13th Ave. S. to 21st Ave. N. in Myrtle Beach during any time of the year. Dogs are permitted on the beach anytime from Labor Day through April 30. No dogs are allowed on the beach 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1- Labor Day.

Horses are not permitted in the City of Myrtle Beach.

North Myrtle Beach
Dogs in public must be on a leash at all times. No dogs are allowed on the beach from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 15-Sept. 15.

Surfside Beach
Dogs are not allowed on the beach at any time May 15-Sept. 15. Riding horses on the beach is prohibited.

Georgetown County
Horses are not allowed on the beach March 15-Sept. 15. Riding horses on Pawleys Island or Huntington Beach State Park is prohibited year round.

Dogs are allowed on public beaches if accompanied by the owner or keeper and under the physical control by means of a leash or similar restraining device, or under the control of a responsible person to whom the dog is obedient on command. On Pawleys Island beach, dogs must be on a leash May-October. At Huntington Beach State Park, dogs must be on a leash at all times. In areas designated for the protection of endangered species, dogs and cats must be on a leash at all times.

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Sleeping on the Beach

Sleeping on the beach or at a beach access is not allowed between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

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Alcohol

Possession or consumption of alcohol is prohibited on the beach.

Glass containers/bottles are not allowed on the beach.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Penalties include a fine of more than $200 and loss of driver's license both in South Carolina and the driver’s home state.

It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to buy, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages.

Open containers of beer, wine, or liquor are prohibited in vehicles or any public place including streets, sidewalks, and beach areas.

In Horry and Georgetown counties, restaurants and bars may sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday. Beer and wine are sold in stores, as well.

Liquor stores can sell alcoholic beverages from 9 a.m. and to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Only liquor stores can sell alcoholic beverages other than beer or wine.

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Motorcycle Laws

South Carolina laws

  • DOT-Approved Helmets are required by law for riders and passengers under age 21.
  • State Funded Rider Education is not available, but private courses are.
  • Eye Protection is required by law for riders and passengers under age 21 unless equipped with windscreen.
  • Daytime (and obviously night time) Use of Headlight required by law - modulating headlights are permitted.
  • Passenger Seat and Footrests are required if carrying a passenger.
  • Passenger Age Restrictions: None
  • Helmet Speakers Restrictions: None
  • Mirrors are required by law on both the left and right side.
  • Radar Detectors: No restriction

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Swim Advisories

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control monitors water quality in the ocean from May 1 through Oct. 1. Temporary swim advisories are issued if bacteria levels are found to be above state standards.

During swim advisories, walking on the beach, wading in the ocean, shell collecting and sun bathing are all still allowed. Swim advisories do not close the beach.

Some areas of the beach have permanent advisory signs, which have been in place since the late 2000s. These signs advise against swimming because of the potential for elevated bacteria levels, especially after heavy rainfalls. Swashes at these sites allow stormwater runoff to drain into the ocean, which can temporarily raise bacteria levels. Swimming is not advised within 200 feet of the swashes.

DHEC tests the areas with permanent advisories and says that the majority of the water samples tested do not exceed state standards for bacterial levels. For further information about water quality and swim advisories, check http://gis.dhec.sc.gov/beachaccess/.

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