Is There Good Snorkeling In Myrtle Beach: Visibility and Safety

Myrtle Beach - Is There Good Snorkeling In Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is a wide expanse of sandy beach, which is great for many sports like boogie boarding and surfing when the surf is up. But if you love to snorkel, you may be wondering if there’s good snorkeling in Myrtle Beach too.

For snorkeling to to be any good, the water needs to be clear, plus there needs to be interesting things to see underwater to make it worthwhile. That’s why it’s important to understand whether there’s any good snorkeling in Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach isn’t good for snorkeling, as the visibility is bad due to a murky thermocline which is caused by pluff mud, the agitation of water caused by wave action and large tidal swings. What adds to the murky water is the many rivers that feed into the sea, which makes snorkeling disappointing.

It is the sand that makes Myrtle Beach a good beach resort that is what makes it a lousy place for snorkeling, which is combined with pluff mud (see quote below I received from Express Watersports).

Unfortunately, due to our murky thermocline, we do not offer snorkeling around the coast of South Carolina.  We have “pluff mudd” here that is very unsettling in our waters and makes it difficult to see until you get to the sandy bottom of our ocean.”

Email from Express Watersports

Looking at the map of Myrtle beach below, you’ll see how the many river outlets that feed into Long Bay will impact on the water visibility for snorkeling inshore.

Map of river mouths exiting into Long Bay with Myrtle Beach
Map of river mouths exiting into Long Bay with Myrtle Beach – Image courtesy of Google Maps

Can You Snorkel in Myrtle Beach?

You can snorkel on Myrle Beach, as there’s nothing to stop you going in from the beach. But it’s not advisable, as the Atlantic Ocean around Myrtle Beach has limited visibility and can be dangerous for snorkelers due to changing tides and currents.

The best visibility underwater in South Carolina is 10-20 miles offshore, which would mean the depths are likely to be too deep for snorkeling.

What makes for good snorkeling?

  1. Interesting rocks to explore: Myrtle Beach is sand for miles offshore, which means there are no interesting rocks to explore.
  2. Coral reefs and fish: There are no coral reefs near Myrtle Beach to enjoy, which means there are also no reef fish either. This is unless you snorkel on one of the offshore artificial reefs, which include the Charleston Tug wreck, which has coral growths.
  3. Clear visibility: For snorkeling to be good, the visibility needs to be clear from the surface to the bottom so you can see the seabed. But as the visibility on Myrtle beach is bad you can’t see the bottom so the snorkeling will be disappointing.
  4. Shallow waters: To enjoy snorkeling off any beach, the depth of water needs to be shallow enough to ideally see the seabed. Whilst the waters off Myrtle Beach are shallow enough for snorkeling, it is the bad visibility that prevents you from seeing the seabed and is what will make it disappointing.

How might you snorkel at Myrtle Beach?

One option to snorkel Myrtle Beach is to go offshore on a dive trip where the wave action is less. However, the problem with this option is the depth will increase as you go further offshore, even as the visibility may get better.

Going further offshore from Myrtle Beach, the visibility does improve the further offshore you sail, but so does the depth increase.

Let’s say the visibility on Myrtle Beach is less than a few feet or worse, which is why it’s no good for snorkeling. But let’s also assume the visibility increases to 10 metres (33 feet) at say 5 miles off-shore. If the depth of the water 5 miles off shore is say 15 metres, the increase in visibility doesn’t help, as you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom, as the visibility is 5 metres (16 feet) short.

What is the visibility like off-shore from Myrtle Beach for snorkeling?

If you are wondering what the visibility can be like in the Atlantic waters off the coast from Myrtle Beach, please watch the first video below. This video was was taken about 6 miles off-shore from North Myrtle Beach, which was on an old tug boat wreck.

Snorkelling offshore from Myrtle Beach practicalities

Considering that the water visibility 6 miles offshore from Myrtle Beach is this bad, where the wave action is much less, think about what it’s going to be like right on Myrtle Beach itself with much more wave action.

However, the visibility isn’t always as bad as this first video shows, which I’d say is about 2-3 metres (7-10 feet) at best.

The average visibility on the Charleston Tug Wreck is 8-9 metres (26-30 feet), and if you watch the next video on the Charleston Tug Wreck dive site, this shows much better visibility at around the 15 metres (49 feet).

The wreck itself is at 16-18 metres (51-60 feet), which is okay if you’re scuba diving, as you can reach these depths. However, the good news if you’re a snorkeler is that the top of the tug boat is about 9 metres (30 feet) below the surface.

If you wanted to tag along and snorkel above the Charleston Tug Wreck, you may not see the bottom of the dive site from the surface, but you may be able to see the top of the wreck and the many fish shoals seen on this dive site. If the visibility allows that is.

But based on average visibility of 8-9 metres (26-30 feet), the bottom sections of the wreck would be completely out of sight at 16 metres (51 feet), and even the top of the wreck would only just be visible. The question you would have to ask is, would you want the cost of going on the boat to snorkel, only to find the visibility isn’t enough to see much when you’re there.

The dive operators won’t know what the visibility is like on any given dive site until they arrive at the site with divers.

But this doesn’t necessarily make it impractical to snorkel Myrtle Beach’s Charleston Tug Wreck, as I’d say the visibility in the second video is about 15 metres (49 feet). Whilst the bottom sections of the wreck are still a metre further down than this visibility from the surface, the top section of the wreck would be visible from the surface for snorkelers.

In which case, I’d say this would make a good snorkelling trip, especially when you see the large shoals of fish swimming around the top section of the wreck in this second video.

Having said that, if you read this email reply I received from Carolina Dive Locker, it is unlikely to be worthwhile trying to get yourself on a dive trip for snorkeling.

Unfortunately the only site we have that would be suitable is our training quarry. There is video of it on our social media page. It is the lake hollywood video.   Most of the local sites are 20meters or deeper and not a good fit for snorkelers.”

Email from Carolina Dive Locker
Are there Myrtle Beach snorkeling Tours - map of dive centres at Myrtle Beach
Are there Myrtle Beach snorkeling Tours – map of dive centres at Myrtle Beach – Image courtesy of Google Maps

Are there Myrtle Beach snorkeling Tours

There are no specific snorkeling tours on Myrtle Beach, as the available tours focus on water sports on top of the water like jet skis, water skiing, wake boarding and parasailing. If you want to go snorkeling near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this may be possible offshore, accessible only by boat.

You could try calling one of the dive companies, like Coastal Scuba – North Myrtle Beach, SC or Scuba Express @ Express Watersports – South Myrtle Beach. Both companies offer scuba diving. Ask if they will take you snorkeling on a dive trip to dive sites like the Charleston Tug Wreck. They may tell you to save your money

Myrtle Beach snorkeling prices

There are no advertised prices for snorkeling Myrtle Beach, as the snorkeling isn’t any good. You could try your hand at boogie boarding or surfing instead, as Myrtle Beach can be a fun place for this when the surf is right.

Where to snorkel in Myrtle Beach, SC

Try contacting the scuba diving operators to see if they can take you to some of the shallower dives for you to enjoy snorkeling offshore from Myrtle Beach, as there’s is nowhere good to snorkel on the beach itself.

Safety when snorkeling off-shore in open water

If you intend to go snorkeling offshore in open water, you need to have a float and a flag to indicate your location to other boats on the water. Although the dive boat will be nearby, there are no guarantees they will be able to watch you the whole time.

As you are snorkeling offshore, you must also be a very competent swimmer, and I’d definitely suggest you use fins to snorkel with. Fins will help you swim faster or make it easier to swim on the surface. Fins will also help to propel you if you decide to duck-dive down to see the bottom or to see more of the wreck if this is where you go snorkeling.

Scuba dive Myrtle Beach instead of snorkel

The solution to not being able to snorkel Myrtle Beach might be to become a scuba diver so you can enjoy dive sites like the Charleston Tug Wreck dive site and many others further offshore. You can read more in this article about scuba diving Myrtle Beach. The article includes details of some of the top dive sites and videos of diving with sharks. One video in this article shows divers visited by a great white shark too.

I started out as a snorkeler, which made switching to scuba diving very easy. Plus if you love snorkeling, there’s every chance you’ll also love scuba diving too. Scuba diving is more expensive, but it’s so much fun. I still remember my first time scuba diving even after 30+ years later, which as it happens was on the Great Barrier Reef, so quite memorable.

You may also be interested to read whether there are any sharks in Myrtle Beach. You may be surprised at what you learn when you read this article and what some of the videos I share.

I hope you enjoyed this page about is there good snorkeling in Myrtle Beach

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about is there good snorkeling in Myrtle Beach), please comment below with your questions.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Is There Good Snorkeling In Myrtle Beach: Visibility and Safety

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