For his 16th birthday, my teenage son, Noah, asked for a trip to the beach. My husband, Robert, and I thought it was a great idea and we immediately made plans for a getaway in North Myrtle Beach. I could already imagine the waves lapping at my toes and dozing in my beach chair all day, waking up to watch for dolphins jumping out of the vast, blue ocean.
But a minute later came the kicker: Can Noah’s two best friends come along, too?
Would it be possible to keep three adventurous teenagers occupied during a beach vacation? There was only one way to find out.
Ok, North Myrtle Beach. Challenge on!
The first thing I did was get the boys involved in making the itinerary, telling them to look online for some cool things to do. Noah and his friends wanted to spend as much time as possible on the water, so they came up with this list:
- Horseback riding on the beach
- Deep-sea fishing
- Stand-up paddleboarding
- Going to an adventure park
Ok, I thought. That should be enough to make for the best birthday ever—and maybe Robert and I would have some fun, too.
Riding through and on top of the waves
The check-in time at our condo was later in the afternoon, so our group headed straight to go horseback riding at the Inlet Point Plantation when we arrived in North Myrtle Beach. We saddled up for oceanfront rides on the plantation’s exclusive Waties Island. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but wow! What an experience. We embraced how peaceful and undeveloped the island was—just horses, nature and the ocean. We trotted along white, sandy shores and even through the water at times. All of us loved every minute of our amazing experience, including the surprise ice cream at the end of the ride!
After riding horses, we checked into our oceanfront condo. The boys changed and ran to the ocean and dove in. As if the ocean knew we were coming, the waves were perfect for boogie boarding. Our place was so close to the water, I could see them catch wave after wave while Robert and I unpacked.
I made it to the beach with my chair, but noticed the waves were getting smaller. That didn’t stop them. The boys had seen people parasailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, and decided that an adventure on the water should be next. Most of them had kayaked before, so they wanted to try something new—stand-up paddleboarding it was. We packed up and left the beach to rent paddleboards and take lessons, opting to dip our paddles into the calm waters of the inlets.
From the moment Noah and his friends tried to stand up on their paddleboards, it was hilarious. They didn’t have their feet on the correct part of the board, so they had such a hard time keeping their balance at first. In fact, they spent more time splashing into the water than standing on their boards. But when a lovely young woman who worked for the rental company gave them some tips, they quickly got the hang of it. Afterward, they said it really wasn’t hard after they listened to her instructions. Before they listened, I don’t think I’d laughed that hard in a long time. I made sure to capture some photos and videos—this would be a birthday memory to look back on that would crack us up.
The sun was setting as we walked back home. The boys were tired but happy—the easy kind of satisfaction that comes with a day filled with adventure.
North Myrtle Beach was winning the challenge, so far. That night, we sang happy birthday to Noah with a tray of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, the ingredients for which I brought with us. Noah and his friends promptly came up with a challenge of their own: who could eat a cupcake in one bite. Teenagers.
Fishing and cruising
We booked a half-day deep-sea fishing trip on the Pride of the Carolinas early one morning. After a quick breakfast, the boys headed to Little River with my husband to catch the 8:30 a.m. trip. As for me? After a couple cups of coffee on the balcony in the gentle seabreeze, I headed to the beach with my chair—spending time with my toes in the sand while reading a book is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend an afternoon. I was in heaven.
A few hours later, the crew surfaced and they were full of stories of dolphins, turtles, sharks and “the one that got away”. This time, it was my husband who had whipped out his phone to take pictures, which he shared with me. There were a couple that showed dolphins gliding through the wake from the boat, and a great one of the crew holding their biggest catches, which we fried up for sandwiches back at the condo.
After a few active days, it was time to wind down. We went to Barefoot Landing and shopped and explored until it was time to board the Barefoot Princess for a sunset dinner cruise. The meal was delicious and all of us enjoyed just talking and laughing with each other. The best part was the show-stopper sunset we quietly luxuriated in while we cruised along the waterway with the birthday boy and his best friends.
Zipping, flying and conquering
At the end of our beach trip, we got up early and went to the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, where Go Ape and Shark Wake Park are side-by-side. Go Ape is a zip line canopy tour and obstacle course through a maritime forest. All of us zipped and flew for almost three hours, zooming through tall, fluffy green trees and shuffling from obstacle to obstacle. We had a blast!
After a quick lunch break, the boys attacked wakeboarding at Shark Wake Park with full force. More flying, but this time it was over the lake while attached to a cable and on a wakeboard. It was awesome to watch them take to a new sport with such gusto. It might have been the most fun they had all weekend. It’s hard to say, though, as I kept thinking about everything they did.
As we headed out of town on our way home, the excited constant chatter slowly died down and it wasn’t long before our three action warriors were fast asleep. They had come to North Myrtle Beach to find adventure and they left having checked everything off their list. As a bonus, us parents had fun too.
Nice job, North Myrtle Beach. Challenge met in every possible way.
Find more water adventures in North Myrtle Beach.
By Sally Riddlewood