Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Myrtle Beach Tent, Canopy & Umbrella Rules for 2023
Downtown Myrtle Beach remains free of large beach tents and canopies due to regulations passed by the city in 2014.

The Myrtle Beach Area
Myrtle Beach Tent, Canopy & Umbrella Rules for 2023

Follow these Myrtle Beach tent rules to enjoy a safe, successful beach outing, and learn which shading devices, umbrellas, and canopies are allowed, and when. The Grand Strand has been restricting the size and type of shade tents permitted during the busy spring and summer seasons since 2014. These Myrtle Beach umbrella rules were created to prevent shade tents from hindering visibility and access to the water line, keeping beachgoers safe, and letting everyone enjoy the pristine views. Although some amendments have been made to allow shades for babies and small children, the original beach laws are still largely in place for 2023. 

When you’re getting ready to visit the beach in South Carolina, it’s important to understand which municipality you’re visiting to know which beach tent rules and regulations apply to you.

Here’s a closer look at the umbrella rules in Horry County, Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach for 2023. 

Horry County Beach Tent Rules

Horry County is responsible for the beach tent rules for about 14 miles of public beaches. Though much of the Grand Strand is referred to as “Myrtle Beach,” most of the actual beach is in Horry County, rather than within city limits. The areas governed by Horry County beach rules extend:

Horry County’s tent rules prohibit tents or cabanas on the beach year-round. Circular umbrellas with a shade no greater than 7 feet 6 inches in diameter are permitted as are small pop-up tents for babies and children, which can be no larger than 4 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. No other shading devices may be used, including tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, and similar items.

The beach tent rules for Horry County also dictate the proper use of shading umbrellas as such:

  • Beach umbrellas cannot be placed within 10 feet of the umbrella line established by the beach franchise holders.
  • Umbrellas must not impede the views of lifeguards in any way. 
  • Shading devices must be secured, but may not be tied together or connected to each other in any manner. 
  • Shades must be cleared from the beach and any items left on the beach between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. will be removed. 

Myrtle Beach Tent & Umbrella Rules

The Myrtle Beach umbrella rules for 2023 remain unchanged and continue to ban the use of large beach canopies, tents, and similar non-umbrella devices during peak season. These rules are in effect for three months of the year, from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The Myrtle Beach tent rules relax during the nine off-season months.

Beachgoers arriving from Memorial Day through Labor Day should observe the area’s beach laws, including the Myrtle Beach canopy and umbrella rules. Only circular umbrellas with a maximum diameter of seven feet six inches are allowed, with the exception of infant tents. Infant tents or canopies are allowed year-round, but they must be no larger than four feet wide by three feet tall by three feet deep. Any permitted shading device must still follow the Myrtle Beach canopy rules for 2023 which state that umbrellas must be placed in line with or behind the established umbrella line so as not to impede shoreline visibility. 

Myrtle Beach allows shade tents, canopies, and other non-umbrella devices to be used on its beaches during the off-season, from Labor Day to Memorial Day. These shades must be kept to a maximum size of 12 feet by 12 feet to be permitted, and beachgoers who use them must still observe the established umbrella line. 

If you’re wondering what to use instead of a beach tent at Myrtle Beach, always opt for an umbrella for shade. These are the only shade devices allowed year-round per the Myrtle Beach rules, and finding one within the size requirements is fairly easy to do. Out-of-towners worried about traveling with a bulky beach umbrella can rent one that meets the Myrtle Beach rules for 2023, upon arrival.

North Myrtle Beach Umbrella Rules

The city of North Myrtle Beach umbrella rules dictate which shading devices may be used on its public beaches and when and where they are permitted. During the busy season—May 15th to September 15th—umbrellas are the only shade allowed, with the exception of baby tents. After September 15th, the North Myrtle Beach umbrella rules relax and permit a variety of shade devices. 

Tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, and similar items are banned from North Myrtle Beach beaches during peak tourist season. Umbrellas are the only shade devices allowed but they must have a center pole no taller than seven feet six inches and a diameter no wider than nine feet. The only exception to umbrellas are infant tents, which must be 31 inches high by 31.5 inches wide by 38 inches deep or smaller, and are permitted to shade children 18 months or younger. 

No shading devices are allowed within the emergency vehicle access lane, which is about 20 to 25 feet seaward of the dune line. Look for city trash cans, pylons, or flags marking this area when setting up your spot for the day. Remember that any items—umbrellas, towels, or toys—must be cleared from the beach between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Surfside Beach Rules

The town of Surfside Beach allows tents and canopies year-round with a few restrictions. Tents and canopies must be no larger than 10 feet by 10 feet, and umbrellas must be no taller than 7 feet 6 inches with a diameter no greater than 9 feet.

The size restrictions help make sure nothing obstructs the lifeguards’ visibility, and there are placement rules to follow for this reason as well. No item, including a beach umbrella or shading device, may be placed on the beach if it interferes with the lifeguards’ line of sight, and no shades or personal items may be placed in front of lifeguard stands. All shading devices must be moved and relocated when lifeguard stands are adjusted for the rising tide. 

Surfside Beach rules allow tents to be used year-round, but they must adhere to these guidelines:

  • At least 10 feet must be left between tents and no beach paraphernalia is allowed in between.
  • Use straight tie-downs to secure tents. 
  • A single row of tents from Melody Lane to 17th Avenue North is allowed. 
  • Adhere to clearance guidelines determined by the city’s rules for emergency access locations ensuring emergency apparatus can get through. 
  • Emergency access locations require additional clearance guidelines to be followed and emergency lanes must be kept clear. 
  • No shades, tents, or other items may be left on the beach overnight (7:30 p.m. to 9 a.m.) or left unattended during other hours. 

Make sure you understand the Surfside Beach rules for 2023 if you plan to visit the city’s beaches, as unlawful use can result in a misdemeanor.