A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

On an evening stroll along the MarshWalk — a boardwalk at the edge of Murrells Inlet on South Carolina's Hammock Coast — you’ll hear the lapping of water against the

Madison County Championship Rodeo

On an evening stroll along the MarshWalk — a boardwalk at the edge of Murrells Inlet on South Carolina's Hammock Coast — you’ll hear the lapping of water against the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

On an evening stroll along the MarshWalk — a boardwalk at the edge of Murrells Inlet on South Carolina's Hammock Coast — you’ll hear the lapping of water against the

A MarshWalk Adventure in Murrells Inlet

On an evening stroll along the MarshWalk — a boardwalk at the edge of Murrells Inlet on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast — you’ll hear the lapping of water against the wooden pilings beneath you, a light breeze rustling the palmettos above, and the bluesy beat of a live band emanating from one of several waterfront restaurants. To the east, across an expanse of calm, rippling water and marsh grasses, beach houses stand in formation under the waning light of a Carolina sky.

The historic fishing village of Murrells Inlet has long been defined by its sheltered location on the water. In the 1700s, the inlet provided a good hiding spot for pirates hoping to plunder trading vessels coming in and out of the port. Drunken Jack Island, in present-day Huntington Beach State Park, is named for a pirate who, according to legend, was accidentally marooned and left to die — but not without casks upon casks of rum to ease his passing. “It’s a fun story,” says Justin McIntyre, curator and maritime historian for the South Carolina Maritime Museum. “Not for Drunken Jack, of course!”



In the 18th and 19th centuries, Murrells Inlet’s port was used to ship rice grown in the surrounding Waccamaw Neck area to Britain. During the Civil War, the Union Navy blockaded the port, but local blockade runners that were able to evade the North’s ships carried turpentine and cotton through the Caribbean and on to Britain.

By the end of the 1800s, the area had become a summer vacation destination and developed a reputation for its incredible seafood. Over the next few decades, charter boats began taking visitors offshore to fish. Today, locals and out-of-towners alike still enjoy getting out on the water — for fishing, watersports, or eco-cruises — and relaxing afterward with a meal on the MarshWalk, which can be accessed by land or by boat. “You have all these restaurants that are formed around seafood,” McIntyre says. “They buy their fish and sell it fresh that day.” The tradition of seafood has persisted since colonial times, he adds, providing a “continuity through the centuries.”

Read on to learn how to spend a perfect day at this inlet destination.

 

At Dead Dog Saloon, try the breakfast burrito: home fries, bacon, scrambled eggs, and Cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped with more Cheddar and green chile sauce. Photography courtesy of Dead Dog Saloon

Eat brunch

Start your day off with the crab omelet (bacon included!) at Dead Dog Saloon, so named because the walls are covered with photos of diners’ cherished former canine companions. If you’re at the MarshWalk on a weekend, have brunch at Caribbean-themed Mojo’s Marina Bar and Grill and try the Mega Mary — a bloody Mary topped with a deviled egg, fried okra, fried green beans, bacon, lemon, and lime, and rimmed with Old Bay seasoning. At either restaurant, enjoy your meal on a deck overlooking the water.

 

Rent a kayak and take it for a paddle in the calm waters of the surrounding saltwater estuary. Photography courtesy of THE MURRELLS INLET MARSHWALK

Have an adventure

Next, honor the area’s maritime history with a water excursion that leaves just steps away from the MarshWalk, or just around the corner.

  • Cast a line: Maybe you arrived by water and brought a line, in which case you can simply hop back in your own boat after breakfast. Or charter a boat! Nearshore, you’ll catch flounder or trout. Farther out, reel in grouper, or — on a full-day ocean excursion — tuna, wahoo, or mahi.
  • Enjoy nature: Take an eco-cruise to see Atlantic bottlenose dolphins — morning offers the best chances for spotting them — or go birdwatching in and around the MarshWalk. Great blue herons and elegant, long-legged snowy egrets often wade in the marsh, while pelicans sometimes perch on boardwalk pilings or fly overhead on their way to the ocean to fish.
  • Get wet: If watersports are more your style, go kayaking or paddleboarding in the calm waters of the inlet. Just bring your own equipment or rent some on the MarshWalk. For a more thrilling adventure, rent a jet ski, or go parasailing and see a bird’s-eye view of the water from 500 feet in the air.

 

At Drunken Jack’s, dine on a bounty of delicious seafood while you look out toward Goat Island.  Photography courtesy of THE MURRELLS INLET MARSHWALK

Grab dinner

After your adventure, it’s time to refuel and relax. When you’ve got your land legs back on the MarshWalk, enjoy a woodfire-grilled steak or brick-oven-baked pizza at Bovine’s. Or head to the nautical-themed Claw House, where you can start with the crab cake poppers with lobster sauce and finish with the seafood mac ’n’ cheese. Or check out the casual setting at Creek Ratz to try oysters from the raw bar before diving into fried flounder and shrimp. At Drunken Jack’s Restaurant and Lounge, you can have the fresh catch of the day served over succotash with a roasted bell pepper cream sauce. During warmer months, look out across the water from Drunken Jack’s toward Goat Island, so named because the restaurant’s co-owner Al Hitchcock keeps a herd of helpful (and hungry) goats there to control vegetation and maintain an unimpeded view of the inlet.

 

Listen to live music at Wahoo’s Fish House. Photography courtesy of Wahoo's Fish House

Enjoy live music

Post dinner, stick around for live music and strolling along the MarshWalk. Stop in at Wahoo’s Fish House for a variety of live tunes every night or check out Wicked Tuna’s Tuna Shak, a tiki bar featuring bands six nights a week. You might just want to order a post-dinner snack — Wicked Tuna is known for its delicious sushi.

 

Attend an event

Plan your trip for February 21-25 to attend the MarshWalk’s annual Restaurant Week, in which all eight restaurants feature three-course menus for only $35. Plus, February 26-27 is the eighth annual Taste of the MarshWalk, where you can sample dishes from each restaurant, shop for crafts by local artisans, enjoy live music, and let the kids enjoy camel and pony rides, bounce houses, a petting zoo, and so much more.

This story was published on Feb 11, 2022

Rebecca Woltz

Rebecca is the staff writer at Our State.