Can you swim in the ocean at Myrtle Beach?


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With its sparkling waters and golden sands, the ocean at Myrtle Beach is a sight to behold. But the question that might be on your mind is – can you swim in the ocean at Myrtle Beach?

The answer is yes. You can definitely swim in the ocean at Myrtle Beach. But as with any beach or ocean swimming, safety should be your utmost priority. 

From the quality of the water to the presence of marine life and the strength of the currents and riptides, there are a few things you should be aware of before jumping in.

In this post, we’ll give you everything you need to know about swimming in the ocean at Myrtle Beach.

Swimming Experience

Obviously, you need to know how to swim. Getting in the ocean without knowing how to swim is dangerous. If you are uncomfortable in the open water, or just want something a little more relaxed, you may want to book some time at an indoor water park.

There are also plenty of land-lubber activities in Myrtle Beach too. If you stay close to the convention center, you’ll have easy access to Myrtle Beach’s best attractions, like Broadway at the Beach, the Boardwalk, and the Grand Strand.

You can also check out one of Myrtle Beach’s many unexplored landmarks.

Myrtle Beach Water Quality

The first consideration is water quality. Thankfully, the state of South Carolina monitors 122 separate beach sites for water quality on a regular basis.

Poor water quality can be due to weather conditions, recent rainfall, and the presence of wildlife, among others. For instance, heavy rainfall can sometimes result in runoff from the land entering the ocean, which might temporarily affect the water quality. But such instances are relatively rare, and the water quality typically returns to normal fairly quickly.

If they do find a high number of bacteria, they will issue an advisory. Note, though, that advisories are only issued during the swimming season (May 1 – October 1). If an advisory is issued, it typically lasts 1-2 days and temporary signs are posted at the location of the advisory.

In general, you can be confident about the water quality when you plan to swim in the ocean at Myrtle Beach. But it’s always a good idea to check the latest water quality reports or contact local authorities if you have any concerns or questions.

To check for an advisory, visit the SC Beach Access Guide.

Recommended: Why is the Water at Myrtle Beach Brown?

Shark Attacks at Myrtle Beach

The topic of sharks is often a concern when it comes to ocean swimming. So, let’s address this straight away. Shark attacks at Myrtle Beach are extremely rare. The vast majority of beach-goers will never encounter a shark during their visit to Myrtle Beach.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there have only been 35 unprovoked shark attacks since 1837. That’s only 35 cases in over 180 years. So, yes, it’s had more attacks than many other beaches in the United States, but that is still an extremely low number of attacks.

But it’s a good idea to take basic precautions. To keep yourself safe, avoid swimming at dawn, dusk, or night when sharks are most active. Also, refrain from swimming in areas where fish are being caught, as the fish tend to attract sharks. 

Other Marine Life

Other than sharks, there are jellyfish and sea lice at Myrtle Beach, which can sting. If there are high numbers of jellyfish in the water, the city will use its ocean flag system and put up a blue flag to indicate dangerous marine life in the water.

While jellyfish stings hurt, they usually don’t cause any serious injury. The cannonball jelly is the most common, and they are among the least venomous of all jellyfish species. 

For more information on jellyfish in the area, check out Sea Science from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Ocean Currents and Riptides

A riptide, or rip current, is a strong, narrow current that moves away from the shore. If you’re caught in one, it can pull you out to sea with surprising speed. These natural phenomena can create challenging conditions for even the most experienced swimmers. 

If you find yourself caught in a riptide, the key is not to panic. Instead of trying to swim directly against the current, which can quickly exhaust you, try swimming parallel to the shore until you’re out of the riptide. Then, swim back to shore at an angle.

A red flag usually indicates dangerous conditions, such as strong currents or riptides. If you see a red flag, it’s best to stay out of the water.

The Weather

Obviously, during severe weather conditions such as storms or hurricanes, you cannot get in the water. High winds can create large waves and strong currents. Hurricane season in Myrtle Beach runs from June 1st through November 30th, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Additionally, it’s dangerous to get in the water when there is lightning in the area. If there’s a storm forecasted or you hear thunder or see lightning, then stay out of the water.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to make the most of your vacation, and the ocean is why many people go to Myrtle Beach. But just remember to check safety conditions before getting in. 

Most of the time, the ocean is safe to swim in. But poor water quality, hazardous marine life, ocean conditions, and the weather all may be reasons you’ll need to stay out. In most cases, though, it only lasts for a day or two and you’ll be in the water before too long.