Pure Fijian coconut milk — laced with bath salts — bubbles in the dimly lit room, as chromatherapy lights change in the Jacuzzi. Holding a glass of pinot grigio I sink lower into the tub, the Indian-inspired music adding another layer of relaxation.
I’m in paradise.
To be more specific, I’m exploring the local wellness offerings and other top things to do in Myrtle Beach. My hotel is the North Beach Plantation, and right now I’m in their Cinzia Spa getting a Fijian Ritual. The soak is followed by a coconut cream body scrub, applied as I lay under a heated blanket with a hot towel under my neck and mask on my eyes.
In a hot rain-shower, granules of coarse salt run off my body onto the tiled floor, as the steam releases toxins. After toweling off, I snuggle up under a thick warm blanket before being massaged to sleep (literally snoring so loud I wake myself up!).Need to #relax? Here's why #MyrtleBeach is the perfect #wellness destination! Click To Tweet
Crows On The Beach
The North Beach Plantation property is 60 acres, and a free shuttle whisks me back to the Indigo Tower, where my room is. Here, I’m right on a soft sand beach studded with sun chaises and umbrellas beckoning me to catch some rays.
Actually, it’s here where I continue my wellness vacation with morning yoga. Dawn Yager from Shanti Yoga comes to the hotel to lead a class in the sand atop our beach towels. We do a vinyasa flow, with variations on each pose allowing everyone to go at their own pace.
The waves crashing onto the shore offer a soothing soundtrack as I confidently move through Sun Saluations, Chaturanga and Wheel; that is, until we get to Crow Pose.
My first real attempt at Crow was last summer while doing a hot yoga class in Savannah, where my sweaty limbs couldn’t hold my heavy body. I got closer during a rooftop class in Puerto Rico, though on this Myrtle Beach trip I finally nail it.
While at home it’s easy to fall into the “daily grind” rut, traveling makes it easier to go through my days feeling curious, inspired and open to growth. Dawn’s guidance helps immensely as she tweaks my posture and coaches me to move my gaze past — not on — my fingers. She also has me dig my fingertips into the ground.
Instead of trying to “hold” myself, I find that sweet spot where my lower half just seems to lift and float onto my arms and…I’m flying.
Beach Walks & Wipe Outs
Walks on the beach are followed by water sports, mainly surfing near Springmade Pier with Jack’s Surf Lessons.
Immediately I notice the sand here is softer than anywhere else I’ve ever felt (seriously!), somehow billions of hard particles creating a soft pillow-like floor.
“Have you ever surfed before?” asks Jack.
“Once in Australia. But I wasn’t good, so let’s forget I even said that,” I smirk.
In reality, the waves at Myrtle Beach are much stronger than they were the last time I tried, creating a fun challenge.
Fun, yes; GoPro-friendly; no.
On the bright side I stand — for exactly .8 seconds before I’m hurled forward into the water so hard my GoPro, which I’d tied my hair around, flies off my head and is promptly swallowed up by the Atlantic.
I just hope a school of fish is putting it to good use.
In all seriousness, though, it’s a lot of fun. In equal seriousness I really suck at surfing. But hey, isn’t travel about trying new things, even if you fail? We can’t all just sit around getting Fijian Rituals all day. (Or can we…).Looking for a challenge? Try #surfing in #MyrtleBeach #SouthCarolina! Click To Tweet
Putting my non-existent sea legs away for the trip, I head out to explore Myrtle Beach’s beautiful park offerings.
Stop One: Brookgreen Gardens. Comprising four former rice plantations, today the attraction showcases gorgeous gardens — including quiet lanes shaded by Myrtle Beach’s protected live oaks. Additionally, it’s home to the country’s largest sculpture garden. I’m not sure if it’s always quiet, but right now it’s easy to get lost wandering down the flora-lined lanes.
There’s also a pontoon boat ride that tells the history of the plantation and allows me to spot not one, but two alligators!
Across the street sits another park, Huntington Beach State Park. Despite their proximity to each other they each have a unique feel, especially as Brookgreen Gardens is run by a nonprofit and Huntington Beach is run by the state.
The main attractions here are the beach as well as the hiking trails.
Personally, I fall in love with the Marsh Boardwalk; seriously one of the top things to do in Myrtle Beach! The wooden trail hovers above the marsh, showcasing a large amount of bird-life as well as dancing crabs (not their formal name, but what I think they should be called).
What strikes me — along with the beauty — is the stillness. It’s insanely quiet, and I find myself gazing out just taking Mother Nature in for 30 minutes without moving. For a fidgety New Yorker, that’s practically a lifetime! Meditation, something I struggle with almost as much surfing, comes easily.
Throughout the trip I savor all kinds of delicious food fare, from healthy seafood dishes to admittedly less healthy eats. Hey, would you turn down a plate of red velvet waffles?! Thanks Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery.
My favorite meal of the trip comes from a place right near Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park. Called The Wicked Tuna, the eatery sits right on the scenic Murrells Inlet for a waterfront view to pair with your fresh catch. Actually, they employ their own team of fishing boats to catch your meal for a hook-to-plate experience. It doesn’t hurt that they have a spiked lemonade laced with wasabi, either.
It also resides along the lively Marsh Walk, which I’d thought from the name was a hike similar to the above-mentioned March Boardwalk. In actuality, it’s a strip of bars and restaurants popular with locals for a fun night out.
While I dive into my grilled grouper stuffed with crab and spinach, an impromptu fireworks show dances over the water. It really is the perfect scene. My mind wanders to preconceived notions I had of Myrtle Beach: mainly that is was all golf courses and a board walk. I never looked at it as a wellness destination; and yet, the wellness offerings I experience are some of the top things to do in Myrtle Beach.#MyrtleBeach is so much more than just a boardwalk and place to play mini golf! #southcarolina Click To Tweet
Choose Your Own Adventure
But really, it’s a choose-your-own adventure destination. If you want to be healthy and spend your days partaking in hiking, watersports and spa treatments, there’s plenty of that. Or, if you want to relax on the beach, not lift a finger and eat copious amounts of shrimp and grits, there’s that too (and might I recommend Croissants‘ pimento cheese-laced option). Basically, it’s all up to you.
My next adventure: Wicked Tuna’s deconstructed tiramisu. Hey, even a wellness trip needs some indulgence.
*A big thanks to Visit Myrtle Beach for sponsoring my trip!
Myrtle Beach Trip Picks:
- North Beach Plantation. This is a beautiful beachfront property with an onsite waterpark, gorgeous spa and large balcony-clad rooms.
- Airbnb also has some great options. Click here for $40 off your first Airbnb stay!
- A class with Shanti Yoga
- Surfing with Jack’s Surf Lessons
- Wakeboarding at Shark Wake Park
- Wandering Brookgreen Gardens
- Hiking in Huntington Beach State Park
- A walk along the Boardwalk (including a ride on the SkyWheel)
- Wine tasting (and sometimes live music) at La Belle Amie Vineyard
- Croissants Bistro & Bakery. Amazing fresh salads, baked goods and southern entrees.
- The Wicked Tuna. Some of Myrtle Beach’s freshest (and most creatively prepared) seafood.
- Johnny D’s Waffles & Bakery. Hearty breakfasts with $3.50 mimosas on weekends.
- Rivertown Bistro. Creative southern menu in historic downtown Conway.
- Aspen Grille. “Fresh Carolina Cuisine” made with locally-sourced ingredients with sauces made in-house.
- River City Cafe. Incredibly extensive selection of beef, pork, veggie and turkey burgers with every topping imaginable.
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