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It's no secret that July is a great time to visit Myrtle Beach. That's why so many people choose to visit this time of year.
While there's something to be said for joining the crowds on the beach — like making new friends over a game of cornhole or watching the kids join in on building a sand castle — sometimes you need an escape from the masses on your own secluded stretch of beach. They are a bit hard to come by in the peak of the season, so the price of privacy may be an admission fee to an oceanfront park or a long hike through the sand.
Here are five places you can go to find smaller crowds and quieter spots on the beach. Just don't tell too many people:
* Golden Mile: Caribbean guests are in a prime location to find some peace and quiet on the beach. Located on the northern end of The Strip, the Caribbean is only one block from the start of Myrtle Beach's famed Golden Mile, a stretch of coastline with historic beach homes instead of high-rise hotels. Running from 31st Avenue North to 53rd Avenue North, the Golden Mile is actually about two miles long. The absence of oceanfront hotels means fewer people on the beach, and there are access points virtually every block. A good rule of thumb is the emptier the parking lot, the more room on the beach.
* Huntington Beach State Park: Located in Murrells Inlet on the south side of the Strand, this 350-acre oceanfront park is worth the drive and the price of admission. In addition to the scenic salt marshes, maritime forests, bike trails and Spanish castle, Huntington also features a long stretch of beach that extends to the mouth of Murrells Inlet. Take the one-mile walk to the jetty, and you will find plenty of isolation. The towering dunes provide even more privacy for enjoying a picnic lunch or taking a nice nap on the beach.
* Myrtle Beach State Park: Located on the south side of town, this park provides nature trails, picnic shelters and a fishing pier. But you can also find some less-populated stretches of beach along the undeveloped oceanfront. The $4 admission fee is a small price to pay for a little elbow room on the beach, and the oceanfront picnic shelters provide a peaceful place to have lunch and get some shade. The north end of the park is closer to the campground and borders Springmaid Beach Resort, so head to the more secluded south end for peace and tranquility.
* Pawleys Island: This "arrogantly shabby" resort town doesn't have the high-rise hotels or the large crowds found on other parts of the Grand Strand, and few outsiders venture this far south to go to the beach. But for a unique day trip, Pawleys Island has lots of historic beach homes you can see on the way to the free beach parking area on the south end of the island. Once there, head even farther south on foot and you will see some of the tallest sand dunes and most secluded beaches on the Strand. Pick up a picnic lunch at the Pawleys Island Deli and find a private spot to take in the great food and sights.
* Waites Island: On the north end of the Strand near the Carolina border sits an uninhabited island just offshore of Cherry Grove Beach. Getting to the island can be tricky, which is why its beaches are secluded, but it's well worth the trip. Take a boat tour to the island or kayak across the channel with outfitters like Glass Bottom Kayak Tours. At low tide, you can even cross the water on horseback via a tour with Inlet Point Plantation Stables. You will feel like you have landed on a deserted island.
After escaping the crowds, noise and neon lights for the day, return to your home at the Caribbean for a relaxing evening. Whether you are looking for fun with friends and family or a romantic couples beach retreat, you can find it all at the Caribbean and on the Grand Strand.