Headed to the beach? These are the rules to know for the Myrtle Beach area

Similar to other beach communities, Myrtle Beach has a list of beach rules and regulations for visitors to follow. The city has passed several ordinances over the years that aim to protect all beach-goers and preserve the shores, and those who violate beach laws are subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail, upon conviction.

Here is some helpful information as you prepare for your visit to Myrtle Beach — or if you are a local or newcomer learning the laws of beach life.

General Beach Etiquette

  • Visitors are advised to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths to avoid disturbing or damaging the dunes, according to the Myrtle Beach city ordinance. It is illegal to disturb or damage the dunes, the sand fencing or the sea grass and sea oats.

  • Alcohol, glass containers and glass bottles are not allowed on the beach.

  • If you want to search for buried treasure, metal detectors are allowed only on the public beach. The use of metal detectors is restricted in the dunes, the street ends or any other public property.

  • Building sand castles is a favorite beach pastime, but don’t dig holes deeper than 2 feet and do not use a metal shovel. When you’re done being on the sand, be sure to fill in any holes you made.

  • Getting married along the oceanfront is romantic, but commercial weddings and other commercial activities are not allowed on the beach. Non-commercial weddings, where no one is being paid, are allowed without a permit.

  • Littering is illegal, and visitors are advised to use the available trash and recycling containers.

  • Gathering around a crackling fire on the beach looks cool in the movies, but all fires are prohibited on the beach, including barbecues and bonfires. You can have a fire pit on the beaches of Pawleys Island as long as you obtain a permit; the permit holder will be held responsible for any damages caused by a fire.

  • It is illegal to discharge, sell, store or possess fireworks within the city, including the beach. Fireworks displays by pyrotechnic professionals may be approved if permitted and supervised.

  • There are no vehicles allowed on the beach; however, you can drive golf carts on unincorporated beaches of Horry County from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. This does not include Surfside Beach, where golf carts are prohibited on beaches at all times. Learn more about golf cart rules here.


  • If you want to spend a day fishing at the beach, you must obtain a valid South Carolina issued Surf Fishing License. You can apply for one here.

  • Swimmers have the right-of-way, so people surf fishing must be at least 50 feet away from swimmers. Fishing is also not allowed in front of the chair-and-umbrella lines.

  • Shark fishing from any pier, the beach and shore is prohibited and if you do catch a shark or other dangerous marine animals, you must release it back into the water.

Swimming & Surfing

  • Playing in the water is part of the fun when visiting beaches on the Grand Strand. Swimmers have to stay within at least 50 yards off the shore, depending on the conditions, and must not go more than chest deep.

  • Surfing is allowed from sunrise to sunset. There is no surfing allowed within 75 yards of a pier, and surfers must wear a surfing leash that is 7 feet or under at all times.

Beach Umbrellas & Gear

  • Want to get the best spot on the beach? Beach-goers are permitted to set up their gear after 8 a.m. and must remove their items from the beach by 7 p.m. daily.

  • From Memorial Day through Labor Day, only circular umbrellas up to 7.5 feet in diameter are allowed, according to Horry County’s rules. Umbrellas must be in line with or behind the lifeguards’ line of umbrellas or landward of the mean high tide line.

  • Small pop-up/blow-up cabanas no larger than 4 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet for infants or small children are permitted. Tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, sports-brellas or similar devices are not permitted.

  • Tents for camping are permitted in Myrtle Beach State Park. Pawleys Island does allow open-sided tents, but visitors are asked to fill in the holes made in the sand so as not to impede the nesting process of sea turtles.

  • From the day after Labor Day until Memorial Day, tents and canopies up to 12-by-12 square feet can be used, but they must be 10 feet behind the lifeguards’ umbrella line.

Dress Code

  • Tan lines may be annoying but you need to cover your bum when visiting Myrtle Beach. “Thong”-style bathing suits are not allowed on the beach or in public, the city says.

Pets & Animals

  • From May 1 through Labor Day, no animals are allowed on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Dogs are allowed on the beach before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. and on the boardwalk between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

  • Pawleys Island allows dogs on the beach year-round, and they need to be on a leash.

  • Pet owners must walk their dog on a leash up to 7 feet long and must pick up and properly dispose of any droppings.

  • Exotic animals like reptiles are prohibited.

  • From Nov. 1 through Feb. 28, horses are allowed on the beach in the designated equestrian zone located on south Myrtle Beach and north Surfside Beach. Horse owners are required to pick up after their animals.

Bicycles & Wheelchairs


  • Payment for parking is required where indicated. Tickets for overtime or improper parking are $30 and increase by an additional $30 if unpaid after 30 days.

  • Vehicles with a handicap sticker or a license plate specifying a handicapped, disabled American veteran, Purple Heart or Medal of Honor may park free at the public pay spaces.

  • All golf carts must be parked legally, one to a space, and be registered with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles in order to be driven on public streets.

Public safety: What the beach flags mean

The beach is a great place to play and relax, but understanding the conditions of the beach you’re visiting is important for safety. There are several ways to check in on beach conditions.

Along with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, towns and cities on the Grand Strand have created Check My Beach, a website where you can get up-to-date information on water quality and safety information.

If you’re already headed to the beach and don’t have access to a computer or mobile device, Myrtle Beach has a flag system that notifies beach-goers about current water conditions. Flags will fly from lifeguard stands to alert swimmers of any potential dangers.

Here is what each flag means:

  • A double-red flag means the ocean is closed to the public, restricting any swimming.

  • A single-red flag indicates hazardous conditions, such as strong waves and currents.

  • A yellow flag signals medium hazards.

  • A green flag means conditions are safe

  • A blue flag signals the presence of dangerous marine life, such as a high number of jellyfish.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department’s Beach Patrol will have officers working year-round on the beach, along with three EMS crews daily to provide first aid and assist with any water-related emergencies. During the summer months, lifeguards will be stationed along the beach and a beach coordinator will monitor the oceanfront, sand dunes and public accesses.

For more information, call 843-918-1014 or visit the Myrtle Beach city website and the Horry County Government website.