Beach Laws, Rules & Regulations
Beach laws, rules, and regulations for Myrtle Beach, North
Myrtle Beach, and Horry County unincorporated areas are very similar with a few
Most of the SC beaches have rules about erecting a shade tent, canopy,
sun umbrella or any other portable shading device, as well as allowing dogs on
the beach (click here for our page on dog friendly beaches), alcohol, and surfing. It seems incongruous with the freedom of the
beach, but regulations are sometimes necessary for the safety of beachgoers and
the protection of sea turtle nests.
High season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That’s when
100,000 or more visitors and locals per day head for the beaches for sun, surf,
and fun. That’s a lot of people packed onto a narrow strip of sand between the
dunes and the tide, but with some cooperation and an attitude of sharing,
everyone can have a good time.
Dogs on the beach must always be on a leash.
Beach Laws for Horry County Beaches
The county maintains about 14 miles of public beaches that
include Myrtle Beach State Park and other unincorporated areas. Lifeguards are
stationed along these beaches from May 15 to September 15 each year. Usually
you’ll find signs posted at public beach accesses and walkovers with a list of
dos and don’ts, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this
information. Click here for the Horry County website. Here’s a brief rundown, along with my editorial comments.
- No alcohol, fires, grills, or glass are allowed on the beach.
- No driving on the beach. If you want to do that, go to
- No overnight camping or sleeping on the beach.
- Dogs are not allowed on the beaches from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. May 1st through Labor Day. Dogs must be on a leash 7 feet long
or less and owners must pick up after their pets. You may not bring your pet
python to the beach!
- No littering, fireworks, or nudity on the beach. That
includes that thong bikini you bought in the Bahamas.
- DO NOT WALK ON THE DUNES OR PICK OR DESTROY SEA OATS. This
is serious. Destruction of the dunes and dune vegetation leaves the coastline
vulnerable to erosion. Then there would be no beach for you to enjoy.
- No solicitation or commercial activities. Don’t try to sell
your timeshare, we have professionals for that.
- No bicycles on the beach from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. May 1st
through Labor Day.
- If you plan on surf fishing, you must first obtain a valid
South Carolina issued Surf Fishing License.
- Swimmers must be no more than chest deep in the
water depending on conditions and must obey all lifeguard directions at all
- Surfing is allowed anywhere along Horry County beaches from
sunrise to sunset, but not within 75 yards of any pier.
- Horses are only allowed on the beach from November 1 through
February 28 in the designated equestrian zone, which is the area south of
Myrtle Beach and north of Surfside Beach.
Sun umbrellas must not block the lifeguard stand.
Beach Shade Devices
This has been a bone of contention for the cities and
county. Most of the laws are now pretty uniform. Here’s what Horry County has
- Tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, sports-brellas, or similar
devices are not allowed on the beach at any time.
- Only umbrellas no more than 7-feet 6-inches wide are
- Shading devices of any kind cannot be tied, bound, or
connected to each other in any manner, BUT all shading devices must be secure.
- DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING OVERNIGHT! Shading devices, floats,
chairs, toys, etc. left between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. will be removed.
- No shading device may be placed within 10 feet of any
established umbrella line of the beach franchise holders and must be in line
with or landward of the established umbrella line. So, if you see a line of umbrellas
all the same, you may place your umbrella at least 10 feet away from and in
line with or on the dune side of the line.
- Do not block a lifeguard’s view or encroach on his/her area.
You will be asked to move.
Beach Laws for Myrtle Beach
These really are laws and are written as such on their website.
It’s a lot of legalese, but here’s the gist.
If the lifeguard tells you to get out of the water GET OUT
OF THE WATER! The lifeguard’s word is law. Also, be sure to know the beach flag colors and what they mean.
Shading devices cannot be any larger than 12-feet by 12-feet,
or 144 square feet, and cannot be any taller than 9-feet after they are installed.
These devices must be at least 10 feet away from any other shading device and are
not allowed on the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The only devices
allowed year-round are circular umbrellas with a diameter of 7-feet 6-inches or
No horses are allowed on the beach.
There are some additional restrictions of sailboats and
other watercraft, and no changing clothes in the public bathrooms. Otherwise,
Myrtle Beach laws are the same as Horry County.
North Myrtle Beach Rules & Regulations
NMB has a much shorter list of don’t-dos and is a little different
on the sun umbrella topic. They allow a 7-foot 6-inch pole and a 9-foot wide
umbrella. Since they designate no other shade devices between Memorial Day and
Labor Day, it is assumed that these devices can be used in the off-season from
Labor Day to Memorial Day. (“No tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions,
sports-brellas or similar devices, or any material mounted on supports allowed
on the beach May 15-September 15.”) The exception to this is baby tents no more
than 31-inches tall, 31.5 inches wide, and 38-inches deep which are allowed on
the beach year-round.
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Other rules include:
- If you dig a hole, you must fill it in before you leave. This
is for both people safety and for sea turtle nesting.
- No one under 17 years of age is allowed to have a laser
pointer. There apparently have been incidents in the past of these devices
causing air and water traffic problems.
- Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00
p.m., May 15 to September 15.
- No horses allowed on the beach.
Other North Myrtle Beach laws are the same as Horry County.
- Surfside Beach does not permit dogs or other domestic pets on
the public beaches between May 15 and September 15.
- No horses allowed on the beach.
- No surfing within 300 feet of the fishing pier and only in designated
areas between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from May 15 to September 15.
- There are no restrictions on the size of shade tent or other
shading devices, but they must be placed 10 feet behind lifeguard stands.
Other Surfside Beach laws are the same as Horry County.
The Brunswick Islands and Georgetown County beaches have similar
Here is the list for Sunset Beach.
Ocean Isle Beach
- No cabanas, canopies, tents, or awnings are allowed on the
beach at any time.
- Sun umbrellas are allowed.
- Do not leave anything on the beach between 7:00 p.m. and
7:30 a.m., it will be removed.
- All beach equipment must be set at least ten 10 feet from
any sea turtle nest or dune vegetation.
- Keep off the Dunes!
- NO DOGS allowed on beach strand from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
- No bicycles on the beach from April 30 to October 1.
Ocean Isle Beach has some steep fines for violating these
laws, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with what you can and can’t do here. Other
rules are similar to Horry County, with some additional information regarding
sea turtle nests. Click here for more information.
Rules here are very similar to Horry County except tents and
cabanas are allowed.
- Dogs must be leashed from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- No horses on the beach from March 1 to October 31.
- No sleeping on the beach from midnight to sunrise.
Most of these things are common sense and not really an
issue for most of us. Cart your stuff in, cart your stuff out and keep off the
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