A full week at the beach! We really needed this family vacation and had so much fun.
Huntington Beach State Park is located in Murrells Inlet, SC, south of Myrtle Beach. We stayed in this campground three years ago—see details here. Since our last visit, the campground has added a new section—complete with paved sites and full hook-up. If you have caught on to our type of camping, you’ll know that we do not prefer this set-up because sites are usually on top of each other. I will be sharing a couple sites in the (new) south section of Huntington Beach State Park campground that we would reserve in the future.
We really enjoy Huntington Beach State Park because when in the campground you truly feel like you are in a state park, as opposed to the resort-style campgrounds at the beach. It is just a short walk to the beach, but I would recommend a beach wagon. Once you have your feet in the sand there is a ton of beach to spread out on. We were never right next to another family. During low tide there are multiple tide pools that are great for little kids to play in and the ocean water is warm in September. The air was cooler than normal because of hurricane Sally the week before. Still warm enough for us to spend every day on the beach though.
I grew up going to this particular beach and when our extended family reluctantly canceled “beach week” in July because of covid, we knew we wanted to reserve a campsite for 2020. By the time we got on to book a site for the full week there wasn’t much left. We wanted to be on the back loop, but still have an easy walk to the beach. I reserved site 65 that ended up being a straight shot to the beach path and bathhouse. Honestly, we were pleasantly surprised by this site. The ones in the woods (111-132) seem really cool because you are enclosed by the trees, but the reality is those sites will deal with more bugs.
We got to Huntington Beach State Park around 4 p.m. on Sunday after enjoying two nights at Hamilton Branch State Park. Official check-in time is 2 p.m. When backing into our site we encountered some problems. The website states that the site is 50 feet long, however with the tree that needs trimming it does not quite extend that far. This caused the truck to be in the road while we were trying to get the camper where we wanted it for the week. Sure does add a little pressure when people need to drive by and you are blocking the road. We also had a fellow camper come up to the truck window to ask us about our camper in the middle of us backing it into the site. Thankfully the site was level side to side.
What I did not realize about the campsite when booking was that it came with a pond behind it. Not really, but during the spring and fall when it rains a lot, sites 63-69 on the back of the loop grow a pond in the back. It was not a big problem, the dogs just did not have as much distance on their leads because we did not want them to get muddy. Quite a few birds visited the pond throughout the day. I did notice some other sites had small ponds near their firepit.
At the end of the week, I got online to book for next year and all of the sites we were interested in were already booked. Crazy! In the south campground I liked sites 167 and 164. The perks about the new south campground at Huntington are: closer access to the beach, paved sites, and full hook-up. What comes with full hook-up though is having to see your neighbor’s sewer line. Some of the sites in the south campground have the sewer lines right outside the door of the next camper or right by their picnic table. At 164 and 167 you do not run into this problem. They also have larger outdoor living areas than some of the other sites.
In the north campground of Huntington Beach State Park we would book site 65 again. We liked the privacy you could create from the road with your vehicle and the convenience of the bathhouse right across the street. Other sites I was interested in are sites 5, 111, 119, and 128. Make sure if you reserve a site in the woods that you are prepared for the bugs. We used our Thermacell unit all week and it really helped keep the mosquitoes away.
Couple months before our trip I started to research photographers in the area for family photos on the beach. I came across Whitney Carroll’s website and the many positive reviews she has online. She seemed like just the photographer we were looking for and she did exceed all my expectations. We set up a 45-minute photo shoot at the Atalaya Castle and on the beach. Whitney did such a good job with our daughter throughout the shoot. She was quick with the edits and I love every photo that she sent us. Can’t wait to print off all of our favorites. I would highly recommend Whitney for your family photos in the Myrtle Beach Area. She frequently does shoots at Myrtle Beach State Park as well. Check out her website here. I plan to hire her again for our next beach trip.
This is the one camping trip that we eat out often. You have to have seafood when you are at the beach! Let me start with our new favorite restaurant, Wicked Tuna. Wicked Tuna is located in the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk and falls on the pricier side of restaurants in the area. We saved our anniversary dinner for this evening. It was worth every penny! We sat on the patio looking out over the marsh and received great service. The Dragon Egg appetizer is to die for! A halved avocado stuffed with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and spicy crab over a nest of tempura sweet potato flakes. The crab cakes were delicious and Heather really enjoyed her ribeye. I would imagine their sushi is amazing as well—we will save that for the next trip.
Two other restaurants we recommend are The Claw House on the marshwalk and Inlet Provision Company. We have been to the Claw House many times, but this was our first time at the Inlet Provision Company. It is located further south, but still has a patio with a great view of the marsh.
We gave Dead Dog Saloon another try this beach trip and I think this will be our last time there. I was not impressed with my food and the drink prices were outrageous for what they served.
We visited Paradice Island for ice cream in Pawleys Island (south of the state park). I was overwhelmed by how many different flavors of ice cream they had. Indoor seating was not available at the time due to covid, but they did have some patio seating outside.
We only feel comfortable leaving the dogs inside the camper while we are out to eat or at the beach because of our temperature monitoring system, MarCELL. Get $20 off with code, imagine20. Huntington Beach State Park has wifi, however it did not work very well. MarCELL does not require wifi and works off of cell towers, texting us when the power goes out in the camper.
Friday I noticed online posts about the grand opening of the nature center at Huntington Beach State Park. We had no idea this was happening until I saw the post online. The original nature center burned down in 2016 before we ever visited the park in 2017. We stopped by on the way out to eat and walked around the center. It had a large fish tank in the middle of the center with a sting ray and horseshoe crab. Below the building was a huge area with a line of sinks to clean any fish that you caught. By the parking lot there was a large pier out into the marshwalk. Every evening we saw seven to eight alligators in the marsh.
We always visit the Garden City Pier when at the beach and it was especially nice after a rainstorm came through. A rainbow appeared at the end of the pier and made for some great photos.
This trip we borrowed my father-in-law’s old truck, an F250, since the check engine light came on in our Colorado. He changed the oil and had the brake pads replaced all right before the trip. The truck pulled the camper like a dream, not to mention the inside was larger, making for a more comfortable 7-hour trip home. We hit traffic coming into Atlanta from highway twenty and about the time we merged into traffic we started to smell something weird, almost like burning plastic. Heather also said she saw some smoke from the truck. I did my best to keep her calm, but she realized her brakes weren’t working. It took her mashing her foot into the floorboard for us to feel any brakes. Something was wrong, but I did not want to pull the truck and camper over on the side of 75/85 in Atlanta. We kept rolling through traffic giving the people in front of us plenty of room, thankfully no one cut us off because the power brakes in the truck went completely out. I’m not sure there is a worse feeling than the brakes going out in the vehicle. Thankfully, the trailer brakes were working fine. We called her dad and he said to keep coming slowly up 75 north. We made it home safe and backed the truck into its spot beside the house. The company that changed the brakes sent a tow truck to the house to pick up the truck and fix the issue. The caliper on the back right brake got stuck and burned through the brake pads. It made for an eventful ending to our long trip.
Things we learned:
- Make sure to have enough clothes for the week. Huntington
Beach State Park does not have a laundry in the park. One more
day and I would have had to find a laundromat.
- We did not have the best experience with customer service at the campground. The gentleman on the phone was rude when I called about adding friends to our site so they could visit one day. We witnessed the man in the gift shop yell at a guy for not having his mask on.
- Splurge and get the photographer for the beach. Yes, I have
about 600 photos on my phone of our daughter’s first trip to the
beach, but none of them have our whole family in them. Check out
Whitney on Facebook here.