North Myrtle Beach kayaking with kids

SUP, canoes, and kayak tours: Quiet family fun also abounds in South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach area

Wide, kid friendly beaches. First-rate shopping. More restaurants than you could eat at on any family vacation. Activities galore. But sometimes, what you also want and need is a quieter, calmer activity. And for that, there are options for North Myrtle Beach kayaking with kids that can take you onto calm waters, for time to reconnect and recharge… before heading back to the thrill of the beach.

We are going to talk mainly about kayaking, as that’s our jam. But you can extend a North Myrtle Beach paddle experience to canoes or stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) too.

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Can you kayak at North Myrtle Beach?

We hadn’t thought of it either! But yes, the Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Cherry Grove areas abound with kayaking opportunities. And while North Myrtle Beach is known for its beaches, many of its best paddle options are in marshes, rivers, and other protected waterways.

This isn’t whitewater kayaking on crazy rivers either. These are typically “flat water” paddles, where you are moving at a slower pace.

You also don’t have to be a world-class athlete to do a kayak outing. Guided kayak tours give you the ability to enjoy the float, while your guide tells you about the area. This isn’t so much an adventure kayak tour as the water equivalent of a nice walk. Lots of options are available. Some last only a couple of hours, perfect for being on the water with your kids. Typically, tour operators can help match you to the right tour as well. After all, they want you and your kids to have a great experience!

Can you kayak if you have a disability or limited mobility?

We find that kayaking can be a great fit for many people who have limited mobility, a disability, or other mobility condition. Being on the water is a sort of equalizer. If you are interested in kayak rentals or going on a kayak tour, talk with the operator to discuss how they can work with you and what to consider for your condition.

For us, Jodie is an above-the-knee (ATK) amputee. She doesn’t wear her computerized prosthetic leg when we kayak, since like feuding siblings, water and electronics are best separate. Kayaking is a way that she especially can enjoy nature at a pace that’s good for her, and we can all be together.

When getting to a kayak, Jodie uses crutches for mobility. Anthony and the kids carry her paddle, PFD, or anything else she needs. Anthony spots her while she crutches down the boat ramp or steps to the boat, especially since those areas can be slippery. Once Jodie is in the kayak, she tucks her crutches inside and she’s ready to go.

How to kayak/SUP/canoe in the Myrtle Beach area if you don’t have your own

While we love busting out our two tandem inflatable kayaks throughout Oregon and the US West, we have not (yet) schlepped them out to South Carolina. Whether you are leaving your gear at home or simply don’t have your own, you are good to go.

If you are going on a family friendly kayak tour, all the gear you need will be provided, such as your kayak, paddle, and life jacket/PFD. Gear is also available for rent throughout the area.

One other note: You also don’t have to know how to kayak. Many of these trips are set up to work for kids and beginners. Your guide will help you with the basics of using the paddle, but it’s pretty easy to figure out.

Why you should trust us

Travel is our family’s school sport. Besides our family of four’s month+ road trips and full-time globetrotting, Anthony has been visiting the Myrtle Beach area since he was a child. He and Jodie have vacationed in North Myrtle Beach multiple times with our kids and other family. From British Columbia to San Diego, we’ve kayaked, SUP’d and floated as a couple and with our kids throughout the US West and more:

Camping on top of an active volcano: Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon

25+ things to do with kids in Roanoke, VA during a Blue Ridge family vacation

Amputee mom kayaks with her kids on Mother’s Day

Our kids were this old when we started taking them family kayaking

Family kayaks: Why our family of 4 paddles in 2 Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks

Where to kayak with kids at North Myrtle Beach

We love the big, active, romping times at North Myrtle Beach (well, Anthony isn’t much for mini-golf, but nobody’s perfect). However, part of what we love about kayaking at North Myrtle Beach is that we can be outside, on the water, and enjoy the quiet. We find that this style of flat-water kayaking helps everyone relax while reconnecting with nature.

During a family vacation, kayaking Myrtle Beach with kids can be a great opportunity to do something together that is quiet yet active. 

Here are just a few examples of the calm, beautiful places you can explore while on North Myrtle Beach kayak tours:

  • Flatwater marshes at Cherry Grove
  • Private island and beach
  • Island with sea turtle nests
  • Cherry Grove Salt Marsh

Those are just a few options though!

Our own experience kayaking with kids at North Myrtle Beach

For our own paddle time, we went with an evening, 2-hour Cherry Grove Salt Marsh tour with Glass Bottom Kayak Tours, which was close to where we were staying.

  • The flat water marsh made for easy paddling, and even the kids could help steer
  • You’re still in town, but feel like you are a world away
  • Going in the evening meant the sun was lower in the sky, so sunlight was less intense
  • We could paddle up an appetite before dinner!

The folks at GBKT worked wonderfully with Jodie and the kids. We rode in glass-bottomed kayaks, with one adult and one child in each boat. While there were narrow channels where we just about could reach out and touch the tall marsh grasses, there were also big, broad basins of blue water where we could spread out.

While we could see the skyline, our time on the water was so quiet and blissful. We could hear birds call and watch insects buzz around. Throughout the ride, we chatted about what we were seeing, and enjoyed the simple movement of paddling the kayak through the water.

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Not all bottoms are created equal

Let’s have a little real talk about bottoms.

Kayak bottoms, that is.

Many tours, including the one we took, feature “glass-bottom” kayaks. These are typically a clear-shelled kayak. Sometimes renting one is more expensive than a regular, opaque model. While they’re referred to as “glass bottom,” usually it means the entire hull is clear.

The idea is that you can look down and see more. That can definitely be the case, but it isn’t always going to be the case. The view all depends on how clear the water is.

We enjoyed our glass-bottomed boats and sometimes could see down into the water. Other times, there wasn’t much to see.

If you’re considering a glass-bottomed kayak, ask the tour provider about the expected conditions. If it sounds like the water you’ll be paddling in will not be very clear, you might prefer to pick an opaque boat instead.

Where to stay in North Myrtle Beach with kids

From vacation rentals to hotels, beachside resorts to tucked-back bungalows, there is an endless variety of accommodation in North Myrtle Beach. The map above can help you find the right place and area for your family vacation to North Myrtle Beach.

Book your kayaking trip and family vacation to North Myrtle Beach, SC

North Myrtle Beach is a wonderful place to visit for a family vacation. But if you love kayaking, heading out on a SUP, or paddling a canoe, you don’t have to choose between those experiences and the wonderful beaches of South Carolina. North Myrtle Beach kayaking with kids can be a great way to enjoy the water—and some calm yet active time—as a family, and it’s one activity we look forward to on our next visit to North Myrtle Beach.

Search tours and availability for Glass Bottom Kayak Tours

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