Be a digital nomad in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 6 weeks to work and travel in a famous southern beach town
Last January and February B and I headed to the southern coast for the second half of winter. We both love Idaho winters: skiing, snowshoeing, and watching fluffy white flakes of snow fall while bundled up in a blanket drinking hot chocolate. However, after a couple months of winter wonderland…we’re over it. 60 miles of white sand beach as a digital nomad in Myrtle Beach, SC, was an excellent trade to 42 days of white snow on the roads.
We landed on Myrtle Beach because of an affordable rental, beach access, and proximity to a decent sized city. We learned from our experience in Pass Christian, Mississippi, that all are needed to sustain a comfortable digital nomad journey.
About the area
Myrtle Beach, SC, is primarily known as a spring break party town. My first spring break trip was when I was 9 and we traveled down to Myrtle Beach from North Carolina. The party hasn’t changed much in the ensuing 30 years. However, January and February in Myrtle Beach are a much quieter affair, mainly full of retirees enjoying their high-rise condos with views of pelicans flying up and down the coastline.
With its proximity to other fun coastal towns and daily walks on the beach, it was glorious to spend the dog days of winter being a digital nomad in Myrtle Beach.
What to do when you are not working in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I’m going to talk a lot about the beach in this post. That’s because it is really nice. I would wake up at 8 (6:00 a.m. in my work time zone) and take a leisurely stroll up and down the coast most mornings. Sometimes the tide was high and the beach was more crowded with walking groups of senior citizens. Sometimes the tide was low and birds out-populated people. Every time I was able to breathe the sea air and look at what the ocean churned up over night in the form of seashells and shark teeth. Speaking of shark teeth, shark teeth hunting is a thing. B became a black belt in it and amassed a very impressive collection of the black fossilized teeth from sharks of yesteryear.
Spring break central
Myrtle Beach also has a robust boardwalk area with shops, restaurants, and bars. There are a couple of mini-amusement parks with carnival rides. These were quiet during the off-season we were there, but I imagine lots of squealing kids riding them once the crowds showed up.
In all my travels, I have never seen a larger collection of miniature golf courses in a square radius as what there are in Myrtle Beach. These are not the type we have back home either, these courses are varied and intricate and have multiple stories. I enjoy putt-putt, but am not passionate about the sport, so we only tried out one course. We were quite impressed with the thematic course and have no doubt the other courses were just as robust.
Away from the beach
The main concentration of activities in Myrtle Beach are centered around the boardwalk and the ocean, but the city has branched out in a couple of areas that have fun shopping, eating/drinking, and entertainment. The Market Common was cute, with a communal feel with houses and retail mixed together. Broadway at the Beach seems to be a competitor with the boardwalk area for entertainment. It is (ironically) a couple miles from the beach.
Not-so-obvious things to do in Myrtle Beach
I’ll bring up shark tooth hunting again in the not-so-obvious things to do because it is not obvious what people are doing when they are looking for these little fossils. Some people have tools (some manufactured and some modified) that are essentially poles with a mesh bag at the end. They scoop up the sand and sift the teeth from the chaff as it were.
Accommodations for being a digital nomad in Myrtle Beach
As a tourist town, Myrtle Beach has plenty of accommodations. We ended up in a townhouse complex two blocks from the beach. This rental was through VRBO and was $2900 for 6 weeks for a two bedroom, two bath home. It was conveniently located one block from a Walmart grocery store. This is super important if you don’t have wheels or public transport! When working while traveling you’ll need to make sure the internet is reliable. Read reviews to make sure this is in working order before you make a reservation.
Tasty (and not-so-tasty) bites in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
There were many restaurants that were closed when we first arrived in town, but as we got closer to the Spring Break time, the town was slowly awaking. As we were on the coast, B of course made sure to get some seafood. If you enjoy carnival/fair food, you will also finds lots of options.
Sadly for B, the ice cream shop that sold Swedish Fish flavored ice cream was closed for the season, but I bet she would highly recommend Rita’s if they are open.
The shopping situation in Myrtle Beach
The shopping up and down the boardwalk area is not great, unless you are in the market for kitschy coastal chotchkes. However, there were some nice regional stores at the Market Common and at Myrtle Beach’s mall.
Getting around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Public transportation exists in Myrtle Beach. This stretch of coastline a couple of miles surrounding Myrtle Beach is called the Strand. However, the Strand’s public transport consists of one bus that makes a slow loop around the area. Unlike some bigger cities, there was no bike share system. Instead, I bought a used bike my first weekend in town and then sold it before I left. I was able to cruise around for about $20 net. Our VRBO was conveniently located within walking distance of the airport. This allowed us to rent a car easily, which we did whenever we felt like going on an adventure.
What to see outside of Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is close to a lot of cool places to explore.
Congaree National Park
I was able to check off another national park by driving 2.5 hours to Congaree National Park in the middle of South Carolina. This national park was slightly flooded when I visited but I was able to see the beautiful hardwood forest on the Boardwalk Trail. I learned afterwards that a couple of weeks later the mosquitoes emerged for the year, but my time at the park was lovely.
Wilmington, North Carolina
B and I wanted to check out what was to the north of Myrtle Beach, so we cruised about 1.5 hours north to Wilmington, North Carolina. This town is really cute. It is now famous for being the setting of tons of shows/movies such as Dawson’s Creek. We arrived and ate some very tasty food and walked around the boutiques that are sprinkled throughout the town. The highlight of the trip was definitely visiting the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden. This area of the Atlantic coast is the only place where Venus Fly Traps are natively found. We saw several of them and other carnivorous plants on a little walking trail.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is two hours south of Myrtle Beach. This wonderful southern city could fill several posts. If you haven’t been there before, go. We spent the weekend eating, shopping, and my favorite: soaking up all the history of this incredibly historic town. We almost missed the boat (literally) when we got to town and boarded a ferry tour to Ft. Sumter. This fort is famously the place where the Civil War started. We also spent a sobering hour at a The Old Slave Mart Museum This spot was formerly a slave market and the small museum was powerful and thought provoking. We made sure to go take in some live music at the revived Riviera Theater. In between all these activities we walked through the streets and marveled at houses that dated back to the Revolutionary War.
Lessons learned working and traveling in Myrtle Beach
We were able to explore much of the area around Myrtle Beach by renting cars and driving. If our VRBO was further from the airport we would have spent a lot of money shuttling back and forth to the car rental at the airport. In bigger cities, there are more central options for car rental facilities that aren’t at the airport. If you plan on renting cars a lot, you should think about how much of a hassle it will be to get to the car rental facility.
Funny things about Myrtle Beach (and South Carolina)
I knew Myrtle Beach as a Spring Break party town. What I didn’t realize was how many retirees there are. I loved seeing all the older folks in walking groups strutting up and down the beach. It made me really want to be retired.
B and I were really pleased with our mid-winter getaway. The weather in the South can be oppressive, so going in winter is really the only time we would be comfortable. While we can’t really be called snowbirds, since we were working while we ventured south for the winter, I can see the appeal of this migratory lifestyle. Being a digital nomad in Myrtle Beach provided a terrific beach to walk on and a central location to visit other areas in this region.