Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Myrtle Beach laws & information

Beach Laws

Swimming / Sun Bathing

Myrtle Beach Swimming and Sun Bathing Rules
Items may not be set up on the beach before 8 a.m., and they must be removed before 7 p.m. daily. Obey all safety flags displayed at lifeguard stands on the beach. A double red flag means swimming is prohibited. Swimming and surfing are not allowed within 75 yards of piers. Thong bathing suits are not allowed on the beach or in public. Digging holes deeper than two feet is not allowed, and holes dug in the sand must be filled before leaving the beach. Rafts used in the ocean must be made of canvas and include a 360 degree rope around the perimeter. Diving or jumping from piers is prohibited.

Horry County Swimming and Sun Bathing Rules
Items cannot be left on the beach from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. They will be removed by beach patrol. Diving or jumping from piers is prohibited. No glass or alcohol is allowed on the beach or at beach accesses. Swimmers must stay within 50 yards of the shore and may not swim in water more than chest deep. Swimmers must obey lifeguard flags at all times. Thong bathing suits are prohibited. Rafts used in the ocean must be made of canvas with a 360 degree rope around their perimeter.

North Myrtle Beach Swimming and Sun Bathing Rules
Swimming is prohibited beyond 50 yards of shore or in depths greater than shoulder height. If you dig a hole in the sand, you must fill it in before leaving the beach. Surfing and skim boarding are prohibited between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from May 15 to September 15 except in the following areas: 300 feet north of Cherry Grove Pier and anywhere north thereof, up to 600 feet north of 13th Avenue South, up to 600 feet north of 27th Avenue South, up to 600 feet north of 38th Avenue South. It is illegal to surf within 300 feet of any pier, and surfing leashes must be worn at all times. 

Surfside Beach Swimming and Sun Bathing Rules
Swimmers must remain within 50 yards of shore in water no deeper than chest deep. Lifeguard instructions must be obeyed by all beachgoers. Surfing is prohibited within 300 feet of the pier. From May 15 to September 15, surfing is allowed only in designated areas, and surfers must always wear a surfing leash. Smoking is prohibited on the beach. Do not dig holes more than two feet deep, and fill in holes before you leave the beach. Items may not be left on the beach from 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. 

Surf Fishing / Pier Fishing

Myrtle Beach Fishing Rules
Swimmers have right-of-way over surf fishing. Fishing is not allowed in front of lifeguards’ chair-and-umbrella lines and must be done at least 50 feet away from swimmers. It is illegal to catch or attempt to catch sharks from piers or the surf. You must have a Surf Fishing License issued by the state of South Carolina to fish in any beaches, swashes and piers.

Horry County Fishing Rules
Shark fishing is illegal. Any sharks or other dangerous marine animals must be released immediately if caught. You must obtain a Surf Fishing License from the state of South Carolina.

Surfside Beach Fishing Rules
Shark fishing is illegal with town limits. Commercial fishing on the public beach is not permitted. 

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Tents / Umbrellas

Horry County Tent Rules
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. Small pop-up or blow-up cabanas for infants or small children are allowed, but they must be no larger than 4 feet by 3 feet. Shading devices may not impede lifeguards’ view.

Myrtle Beach Tent Rules
Tents are banned on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Round umbrellas with a diameter of 7.5 feet or less are permitted, and they must be in line with or behind the line of lifeguards’ umbrellas. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, tents up to 12-feet-by-12-feet can be used, but they must be 10 feet behind the lifeguards’ umbrella line.

North Myrtle Beach Tent Rules
No tents, cabanas, pavilions or other large shading devices are allowed on the beach from May 15 through September 15. During this time, 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. Baby tents used by children 18 months of age or younger are permitted if they are no larger than 36 inches high by 36 inches wide and 36 inches deep. Shading devices must not be in the way of emergency personnel on the beach. 

Surfside Beach Tent Rules 
Tents and canopies must not be larger than 10 feet by 10 feet. Umbrellas must be no taller than 7 feet, 6 inches or wider than 9 feet in diameter. Umbrellas, shading devices, and baby tents must be located behind the lifeguard stand to protect the lifeguard’s view of the beach. Shading devices must move west as the tide moves in and lifeguards move back. Tents must be at least 10 feet apart with straight tie downs. A single row of tents is allowed from Melody Lane to 17th Avenue North. Additional emergency access space is required in designated areas along the beach. 

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Boating

Myrtle Beach Boating Rules
Sailboats may not be left on the beach overnight unless all of the following conditions are met: the sailboat mast is lowered or all rigging is secured, it is positioned so that it doesn’t restrict beach access from dune walkovers or street ends, it is not on a dune or threatening to cause dune damage, a beach permit decal issued by the Myrtle Beach Police Department Beach Patrol is displayed. Motorboats may not be operated within 400 yards of the beach. Jet skis may not be operated within 100 yards of the beach from May 1 through Labor Day unless they are being launched perpendicular to the beach. Sailboats, sail boards, and kite surfing boards may not be operated within 100 yards of the beach from May 1 through Labor Day except when they are being launched perpendicular to the beach.

Horry County Boating Rules
Motorboats may not be operated within 400 feet of the shoreline. Jet skis may not be operated within 100 yards of the shore from May 1 through Labor Day except during their launch and return. Watercraft, including jet skis and sailboats may not be left past sunset on the beach or left unattended.

North Myrtle Beach Boating Rules
Motorized watercraft must operate 100 yards or more off shore. 

Surfside Beach Boating Rules
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. Operation of any boat or watercraft in a reckless manner is prohibited. 
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Fireworks

Myrtle Beach Fireworks Rules
It is illegal to discharge, ignite, use or shoot fireworks in the city limits of Myrtle Beach on any public beach, public beach access, street end adjacent to the beach or any public land immediately adjacent to the beach.

Horry County Fireworks Rules
Fireworks are prohibited on the beach and at oceanfront properties that are posted as a Fireworks Prohibited Zone.

North Myrtle Beach Fireworks Rules
Fireworks are prohibited on the beach.

Surfside Beach Fireworks Rules
Fireworks are prohibited on the public beach. 

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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. Back to Top

Campfires

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

Sea Oats

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

State Laws

Seat belts must be worn at all times in a moving vehicle. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. 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. 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. Back to Top

Animal Laws

Myrtle Beach – Dogs on Beach
Dogs in public must be on a leash at all times. Dogs are permitted on the beach anytime from Labor Day through April 30. No dogs are allowed on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1- Labor Day. Dogs must be on a leash 7 feet or shorter at all times. Owners are responsible for picking up and disposing of pet waste.

Horry County – Dogs and Horses on Beach
Animals are not allowed on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1 – Labor Day. 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. Horses are allowed on the beach from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28 in the designated equestrian zone south of Myrtle Beach and north of Surfside Beach. Owners are responsible for picking up and disposing of their animals’ waste.

North Myrtle Beach – Dogs on Beach
Dogs must remain on a leash no longer than 7 feet at all times. Pet owners are responsible for picking up and properly disposing of pet waste. 

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. Back to Top

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 up to $400 and loss of driver’s license for 6 months for a first offense. 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. Back to Top

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 Use of Headlight required by law – modulating headlights are permitted.
  • Passenger Seat and Footrests are required if carrying a passenger.
  • Rear view mirror is required.

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Swim Advisories

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control monitors water quality in the ocean. 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 https://gis.dhec.sc.gov/beachaccess/.