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April 25, 2018
The South Strand: Luxury and Natural Beauty by the Sea
As you drive south from glitzy Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the glittering lights of the boardwalk fade to a more relaxed hue. The egrets and other coastal birds look lazily from their long-legged wade in saltwater marshes. The pace is appreciably less frantic. From Garden City Beach down to DeBordieu Colony, this area of the South Carolina coast is a favorite among locals and visitors for many reasons.
"You can tell the difference; it's simply more family-oriented," remarked Lee Hewitt, broker-in-charge at Garden City Realty. "What's great about Garden City is that we're only 15 minutes from Myrtle Beach – so if you want to enjoy the bustle of the Myrtle area, you can. But you can also get away from it all."
Hewitt said the abundance of single-family homes – rather than high-rise hotels – helps keep the south area more about families and less about couples seeking romance or college kids on spring break.
"I pretty much grew up in Murrells Inlet myself," he remarked. "We came to our beach home each and every summer, and I always loved it. Here you can see the sand dunes and the marsh grass, not the lights and attractions."
"In Georgetown County, it is actually illegal build a highrise," said Royce King, president of the Litchfield Company. "I believe that this area of the Strand will remain a quaint community. We have strived to keep Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island that way since our company initially developed this area in the 1950s."
The southern part of the Grand Strand – 60 miles or so of sun and sand that stretches from the North Carolina border to the Georgetown area – attracts people who are searching for the natural allure of the coast. The lighter crowds and abundance of space make it much easier to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the seaside.
"For a while, people described DeBordieu as a 'splendid isolation,'" said Hampton Peace of DeBordieu Real Estate. "And that may be true. But our residents love it. Some people want the towel-to-towel, bumper-to-bumper thrill of Myrtle Beach. And some want to get away. We're surrounded by a lot of protected land at DeBordieu, and the wildlife is all around. There are ducks, deer, turkeys and foxes, not to mention the exceptional waterfowl. They're more or less undisturbed here. They live in peace right along with the residents and visitors."
But don't get the notion that the South Strand is all about bird-watching in silence. There's plenty to do, especially if you love the water.
"We have ample access to boating, golf and shopping," said Hewitt. "One of my personal favorite things to do is to take the boat down to Georgetown and have a meal at the Rice Paddy Restaurant. Around these parts, we use a boat to get anywhere, even to the beach. And we love the pluff mud."
"We have our wealth of natural beauty as well as luxury amenities," said Peace. "There are tennis courts, several swimming pools and a Georgian-style clubhouse with an 18-hole Pete Dye-style golf course."
If you're hungry, the restaurants in the area are local and fresh, whether you crave seafood or Italian.
"Frank's is a really great restaurant, and it's been there for years, probably at least 30," said King. "It has all sorts of all-American cuisine. We're fortunate to have so many terrific places to dine in Litchfield and Pawleys Island."
"Murrells Inlet is the place to go for fresh seafood," said Hewitt. "Drunken Jacks and Dockside are both excellent. And if we're down in Pawleys Island, we love Bistro 217."
Home sales and vacation rentals have been booming in the last year along the South Carolina Coast, so if you're thinking about paying a visit, or putting down roots, now might be the time.
"Our sales were up by 35 percent last year," said Hewitt. "And so far this year, vacation rentals as well as sales are well ahead."
"We have homes for sale right now on our Nature preserves, the marsh and the golf course," said Peace. "We ended last year on a high note, and it has carried into the spring."