Downtown Myrtle Beach remains free of large beach tents and canopies due to regulations passed by the city in 2014.
The Beach

Your guide to Myrtle Beach tent rules & regulations for the 2017 season

March 18, 2017

Over the past several years, the regulations regarding what types of beach tents, umbrellas, and canopies are allowed on Grand Strand beaches have become a hot-button topic for Myrtle Beach visitors, locals and lawmakers alike.

In 2014, both Horry County and the area’s two largest municipalities — Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach — passed ordinances limiting beach cover to those with a center pole no greater than 7’6″ in height and a circular shade no greater than 9 feet in diameter.

However, exactly one year after the original ordinance was signed into law, Horry County has moved to amend its law with exceptions for families with small children and for certain special events.

These regulations apply to all county-run beaches which account for about 14 miles of oceanfront property (see list of county-run beaches). The new rules do not apply to municipalities such as Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach, which each have their own rules regarding beach tents. 

Here’s a closer look at all the area’s beach tent laws, as they currently stand:

Horry County

For Families & Senior Citizens

Families who need to keep an elderly family member out of the sun or who simply prefer shade at the beach are allowed to use beach umbrellas covering no wider than 7’6″ feet in diameter. Four-cornered canopies are still not allowed for general use.

For Kids & Small Children

For families with babies or children, the amended ordinance now allows for small pop-up tents and blow-up cabanas for small children.

For Beach Weddings

Couples getting married on the beach may now incorporate a beach canopy (like the ones mentioned above) as part of their ceremony as long they have a county special events permit. More info

For Special Events

If you’re planning a family reunion, gathering or another special event on the beach and would like to use a canopy or larger tent, the county will now allow for this in certain cases. Your request will need to be submitted as part of special events permit. More info

Myrtle Beach

The city of Myrtle Beach has banned the use of large beach canopies between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with relaxed regulations after Labor Day and throughout the offseason. From the city’s Beach Tents Page

“During summer months, umbrellas up to seven-and-a-half feet in diameter are allowed in line with or behind the established umbrella line, but no other shading devices are permitted.  Tents up to 12-by-12 feet square and less than nine feet tall may be used from the day after Labor Day until Memorial Day, behind the umbrella line and 10 feet apart.”

North Myrtle Beach

The city of North Myrtle Beach restricts the use of beach tents and canopies from May 15 to Sept. 15. From the city’s Beach Laws Page

“Only UMBRELLAS with a center pole no greater than 7 feet 6 inches in height and a circular shade no greater than 9 feet in diameter are allowed on the beach May 15-September 15. No tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, sports-brellas or similar devices, or any material mounted on supports allowed on the beach May 15-September 15.”

Surfside Beach

There are currently no regulations restricting use of canopies and beach tents in Surfside Beach. The only laws regarding cover in this area are that beach umbrellas and other beach paraphernalia must be placed at least 10 feet to the rear of the lifeguard stands and in a line generally parallel with the ocean strand. From the Town of Surfside Beach website:

“The town governs the beach within its corporate limits, so any ordinance that Horry County adopts will not affect the town. At this time, there is no intention of banning tents or umbrellas on the beach.”


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User Comments Displaying all 8 comments:
  • 1 comments - First-timer

    Traveling with a 4 month infant, your beach regulations making infant shelter prohibited has now turned our week long stay compromised, since it is unsafe to be on the beach in full sun with the baby. Certainly not a family friendly beach, making a 3 ‘x 3 ‘ pop up , open shelter banned from use. We can here with our grandchildren looking for possible family real estate to purchase for future family get to getters . Great political decision city council, destroy your city over such a ridiculous ban. Meanwhile, there are underage drinkers with bottled achoholics all around and we were the subject of enforcement.

    • In Reply to Paul J. Pantano
      1 comments - First-timer

      Our extended family of 19, including infants, toddlers to elderly parents decided to come to North Myrtle Beach for the first time after vacationing at a number of different beaches over the span of 30 years. We were surprised to find we couldn’t put up our canopy for sun protection. With this many people, umbrellas are not practical. We will certainly check beach policies before booking at any beach in the future.

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    Our family of 6 has made an annual trip down to Myrtle Beach for more than a decade. This law which prohibits even draping a towel in a “tent-like” mannar to shade a napping infant is just ridiculous. I just was forced to leave the beach because my 1 yr old son was napping under our draped towel and the life guard insisted that we take it down. Since I did not want my son to be napping in direct sun I had to leave. We will be making other vacation plans in the future. We will also advise our friends of the family unfriendly beach laws so they can make informed choices.

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    Came to Myrtle Beach for final family vacation. Set up my canopy tent to enjoy the beach with my family and not worry about my parent in laws or kids over heating and was told that the city ordinance says you can’t have a tent between Labor Day and Memorial Day when it’s the hottest outside. Of course you can rent one of their small umbrellas for $40 and try to sit six people under it . Thanks for using a bs policy to make a quick buck. Don’t have to worry about me or my family ever returning to Myrtle Beach again.

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    This policy is short- sighted & will likely discourage our family from
    choosing Myrtle Beach as a future vacation destination.

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    I was using a tent on Myrtle Beach for quite a while. I purchased sand bags to attach to the legs of the tent which made the tent unmoveable in even high winds. This kept all my family members safe from the hot sun. When the new laws came into affect we were unable to use the tent, and this became a very big burden to us. Please talk over the law and let people have new rules pertaining to using tents. Thank you

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach has lost me as a visitor. Our first on the beach we were told about no cabanas for my 20 month old. So we took it down but, other people did not. So, I know that this comment will fall on deaf ears and Myrtle Beach will not miss this one family. I know plenty of Maryland and New Jersey beachs that will love us.

  • 1 comments - First-timer

    We planned a week long stay. There are 23 in our party including children,infants, and elderly individuals. We rented multiple condominiums at Kingston Plantation. We rented 4 umbrellas / beach chairs. This has been a nightmare. Your ridiculous calendar specific rules on tents made it dangerous for all our children to enjoy the beach. Umbrellas DO NOT protect from wind burn on our infant. Meanwhile the Margate Towers has no ramp to the beach area for wheelchair making it unsafe for the elderly and not ada compliant. But we are getting threatened with fines and jail time. I was told I could go purchase an infant tent that would hold only one infant. Never mind toddlers and nursing mothers. Since your beaches ban tents and do not provide any for rent or purchase that fit your specifications. I went to Wings, Eagles, cvs, Target, Walmart,Kroger, Bass, Belks, and Penny’s. They DO NOT possess any. We were also ready to purchase property and have since cancelled our contracts since we will NOT be returning here to your beautiful unsafe beaches. There are many beautiful beaches in our country. We will now be looking for safe beaches since yours are dangerous. On another note you also hired the rudest most obnoxious life guards who barely speak our language. I hope their life saving skills are better than their people skills. Because they do not possess those skills.