Myrtle Beach State Park Offers Dolphins and Turtles and Crabs, Oh My!

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Bay View on the Boardwalk puts its guests in the middle of all the action in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Located on the 1.2-mile Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, Bay View puts guests within a short stroll of all the great attractions, shopping, dining and nightlife in the downtown district, including the Second Avenue Pier, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Plyler Park and Family Kingdom Amusement Park.

But few realize that Bay View on the Boardwalk is also only a few miles from some of the area’s most beautiful brushes with nature at Myrtle Beach State Park. Located on the oceanfront on the south end of the city, Myrtle Beach State Park also offers an abundance of scenic wetlands, woodlands and wildlife that are true natural treasures of the Carolina coastline.

Featuring a fishing pier, an undeveloped stretch of beach, hiking and biking trails, picnic shelters, and a wide array of educational opportunities, Myrtle Beach State Park serves as a great escape for a family adventure. The on-site Nature Center is filled with exhibits and displays about native flora and fauna, with educational programs held throughout the summer.

Most of Myrtle Beach State Park’s summer programs are free with regular park admission ($5 adults, $3 ages 6-15, free ages 5 and under), except for those that involve a small fee for supplies. Registration is done on a first-come, first-served basis on event days, and space is limited to 25 people. Groups of 10 to 25 must register in advance to ensure space. Programs are held Tuesdays through Sundays. Here are some of the more popular programs available for guests this summer:

* Dolphin Dilemma: Explore the magical world of our aquatic mammal cousins by learning about their daily lives and their relationships with one another. You can also learn how to identify local species just by looking at their fins.

* A Crabby Experience!: Enjoy a fun day of crabbing from the Myrtle Beach State Park Fishing Pier using only baskets and bait. Participants can rent baskets and purchase bait for only $5, then keep what they catch for a seafood feast.

* The Sounds of Nature: Venture out to the dock over a natural pond and listen to the sounds of different creatures giving their special calls. Identify the sounds of birds, bugs, toads, and even the waves, winds and trees. It’s a concert out there.

* Sea Turtle Patrol: Join a park ranger for a walk on the beach to look for sea turtle nests along the dune lines. Participants will check for signs of mother turtles burying their eggs or hatchlings heading out to sea.

* Catch of the Day: Head to the fishing pier for an up-close look at some of the local species of fish that are caught from the pier. Catches will be placed in a kiddie pool so participants get to see them and learn to identify them.

* Legends of the Forest: Myrtle Beach State Park is one of the last remaining old-growth maritime forests in the area, and visitors can learn all about it during this hike with a ranger to see the plants, animals and other secrets.

* Scavenger Hunt: This self-led activity is available anytime and is a great way for a family to spend the day exploring all the cool features of the park. Pick up a list at the Nature Center for $1 and start searching.

The highlight of the summer programs comes with the Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, followed by an updated fall schedule in September. Guests at Bay View on the Boardwalk can get in touch with nature by visiting the Myrtle Beach State Park and taking part in the programs any time of year.