For Christmas this past year, I surprised my mom with a trip to Myrtle Beach. I’d been wanting to take her on a vacation for so long, I was so excited! My family has gone to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for as long as I can remember. In fact, they went long before I was born! 🙂 My boyfriend, Marc, had never been before and my mom wanted to take along my cousin, Ashley. After a six-month delay, the Christmas trip began!
Driving from Ohio, it takes about 10 hours and 600+ miles to get to Myrtle Beach. We ended up having a rocky road trip down south (another vacation curse!), but we eventually made it.
I chose a new hotel for our stay, the Hotel Blue. It’s a trendy beachfront hotel and resort, complete with an outdoor pool, indoor lazy river ride, and of course, beachfront access. The best part about this hotel though? Two words: Pool Bar.
Yes, the Hotel Blue has the first pool bar that was opened in the state! Also, the outdoor pool (which was huge and fantastic and clean!) also has a perimeter of about half a foot or so deep and has loungers in the water in the pool at this depth. So you can sunbathe and enjoy the refreshing pool at the same time! They looked incredible when I saw them and they and the pool bar lived up to the hype.
I splurged for the oceanfront room and that made the trip a little pricier, but for me and my mom, the best part about going to the beach is waking up, looking out your balcony and seeing the morning ocean! I will note I was a little concerned about the hotel. After reading some reviews about uncleanliness, unprofessional staff, and a party atmosphere, I was worried I had made a mistake. I can’t answer for others’ experiences, but my family and I had a totally different experience! The staff was incredibly accommodating and nice. In fact, my mom made several friends with workers at the hotel (as she is wont to do everywhere she goes 🙂 ). Upon entering our room, it was extremely clean and had all the basics we needed for our stay with the promised incredible balcony view which really impressed Marc and Ashley! And while there were bachelor and bachelorette parties at the hotel while we were there, everyone was friendly and nothing seemed out of control in the least.
My mom got to try a swim up pool bar and thoroughly enjoyed her one frozen drink she allowed herself per day. The pool bar was shaded and we even got lunch delivered via the restaurant next door! It was so convenient and the drinks were delicious! If you go, you MUST try a frozen mudslide. I might have had a couple 🙂
Having known Myrtle Beach all my life, it is hard to describe the experience. Marc enjoyed the trip although he did point out that the beach had fewer shells than Florida. There is a small estuary and linked stream out to the ocean at one point in the beach and Marc enjoyed exploring that area the most! He found a crab leg and several shells he is extremely proud of. My cousin stumbled across a baby shark washed ashore and snapped a picture as a lady released him back in the ocean! My mom got to lay out and soak up the sun with a good book. As for me? I had a goal I wanted to accomplish while at the beach paradise. Parasailing.
All of my life, I’d watched people parasailing over the ocean attached to small boats with huge sails. Crazy, is what my family would call it. Something I had to do, was how I felt. My mom has a huge fear of heights so we let her off the hook, but as it turns out, my cousin was also interested. And even though he said he didn’t think it would be interesting, I told Marc he had to do it!
I did some research and Ocean Watersports is the company I chose. It’s close to the pier in South Myrtle Beach and locate right on the beach in a stand right near the amusement park. Parking is hard to come by I’ve heard, but for us, it was a short walk on the beach! I suggest leaving your valuables safe before purchasing your trip. There isn’t really anywhere to keep things and you certainly don’t want to drop your phone in the ocean! It was $59 a person and included a banana boat ride out to the boat. For some people, this is a bonus (because they also sell banana boat rides for $18 a pop), but for me, I was nervous. I’ve heard they are really rough and a lot of people fall off of them. Nevertheless, I persevered. We were instructed to go pick out a life jacket. They seemed to have three basic sizes and you could adjust the straps. We then waited at the pickup point.
Although I was really excited to try this, I have to admit, I had my fears. What if I fall off or hurt myself on the banana boat? What if the line snaps while we are parasailing and I plunge to my death stories above the water? What if I get dipped in the water and a shark bites my leg off?
Alas, my blog isn’t called the guinea pig traveler for nothing! I knew I had to push through my fear and go for it or I would regret not trying parasailing. It was a big test for me. The moment the jet ski arrived and they gestured for us to board the banana boat, there was no going back.
I had read that riding the banana boat can be rough, but you have to make sure to hold on, keep your knees bent, and when you hit a wave and bounce and fly up into the air, lean toward the inside of the flotation instead of toward the ocean. It was a little bumpy and I held on for dear life, but it was also exhilarating. And when we reached the boat, the jet ski engine died, we were out in the depths of the ocean (a feeling that makes you feel so small and something I’d never before felt), and I was ready to go.
We climbed aboard and the boat was very rocky. It rocked to and fro with the waves and it was hard at first to get my balance. I quickly sat down. Captain Red and his helper were efficient and no nonsense. We also had a couple with Marc, Ashley, and myself. We were lucky enough to learn that we could do parasailing three abreast or in pairs. We chose to do it all together. We put on our harnesses and were asked to go first before the other couple. We stood at the back of the boat, they clipped the parachutes on and we were instructed to sit down. The sail was released, they gunned the engine, and off we went! It felt a little jerky, but less so than I had anticipated. While up in the air, the harness is wrapped around your thighs and provides a natural seat for your body. The best way to describe the feeling is like the swings at a fair ride. It’s comfortable and as long as you don’t try to straighten your legs all the way, the harness will stay in place and won’t ride up!
Once we were fully released and up in the air, it was another world. It was so quiet above the noise of the beach with only the breeze and the ruffling of the parasail to reach your ears. Taking a long look over the shoreline and beach, we were far, far above the tops of the hotels and could see down into the clear blue ocean. It was an amazing feeling. I felt euphoric as the breeze kissed my face and my feet kicked into the nothingness below me. I checked in with Marc in the middle and Ashley on the far side, and they both were in love with it too. Marc commented that this was so much better than expected, absolutely worth trying. We were up for about 10 minutes which feels a lot longer when you’re up in the air. Finally they started to lower us down for a dip in the ocean and we got a little nervous. That fear about the shark might have reared its ugly head … We dipped down and just missed the water. To compensate for pulling us up short, Captain Red let us down again and overcompensated just a little. So instead of gracefully dipping down into the water, we were submerged into the ocean and pulled through it for a few feet. Some ocean water was swallowed in the process. No sharks were present for the dipping and we were pulled up unscathed! A little wetter than expected, but fun nonetheless! We went back into the air and were gently pulled back into the boat.
A word of warning, the Captain’s assistant was calling to us and we misunderstood what he was saying. We came into the boat sitting down and apparently we were supposed to touchdown on the boat standing—so we quickly had to come to our feet! Whoops! We were swiftly unclipped and sat down while the other couple was hooked up. My cousin went over to Captain Red and said, “where do I go to throw up.” He laughed and then she said. “No, really. I’m going to puke, where do I go?” He sobered up pretty quickly after that and told her to go sit and lean over the edge of the boat. As luck would have it, she did not throw up, but looked pretty queasy. I had totally forgotten that she gets major motion sickness. Apparently the parasailing was fine, but the rocking boat on the waves made her pretty sick! Captain Red kept saying, “Darlin’ these waves are nothing–I’ve experienced 10 and 15 foot swells these are baby waves!” My cousin looked unappreciative in the face of his support lol. Marc later admitted he had been queasy before we went up, but he attributed that to nerves. I guess I have a stomach of steel! 🙂 The other couple completed their parasail (they were gracefully dipped by the way …) and it was back on to the banana boats for a tug in to the beach! We did bring a tip for the captain so you might want to stash a bill in your swimsuit for the ride to give before you leave the boat!
The banana boat ride back in was a LOT bumpier with us cresting over the waves on the way in to the shore and I got some serious air time and bumped my leg pretty good. Once my cousin got back on dry land, she also recovered.
They took pictures of us on the trip and while they weren’t the best quality, I bought the USB of them and I enjoy looking back on them post trip! I definitely recommend parasailing and I am so glad I pushed through my anxiety and gave it a try. It is a once in a lifetime experience and something I’ll never forget! It made it even better to get to do it with my cousin and boyfriend! 🙂
Have you ever been parasailing? To Myrtle Beach? Are there any fears or concerns you have that I didn’t answer with the post? If so let me know! 🙂
Per Person Cost: $ (>25) $$(25-50) $$$(51-100) $$$$(101-200) $$$$$(201+)
My family has always driven to Myrtle Beach. If you want to go to a nice restaurant or even to some other attractions in the area, having a car is nice. A word of caution though, bigger vehicles have problems with small hotel parking garages and spots, and the traffic is insane in the area during peak season. For us, it’s worth it to have a vehicle, though we did easily Uber in some instances when we wanted to have a few drinks! The Uber options were abundant. Parking for the beach is more difficult if you don’t stay at a beachfront hotel and need to find beach access parking. Spots fill up quick!
Parasailing: $$$ ($60)
Parasailing Photos: $$ ($30)
Hotel Blue (Per Night): $$$$$ ($364) This was discounted via a promotion. We got the oceanfront efficiency with two queen beds and one bath. It came with an oven, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, and minimal dishware, as well as dish soap, and hand towels. The oceanfront efficiency was a little pricier than other views. This was a four-person accommodation.
Parasailing allows adults who fit in the weight range of 35 to 400 pounds. Check the ropes and harness for signs of sun damage, or serious wear and tear, like frays or tears. The most dangerous part about parasailing is having equipment that is too old or damaged. Test the harness when you put it on and make sure it is properly fitted to your body. PLEASE don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if something feels wrong to you.
I chose Ocean Watersports because they had an excellent safety rating and despite the bumpy banana boat ride, I always felt I was in capable hands. That being said, once again, my best advice to you is to ask if you have a question and ask if you feel like something isn’t fitting you properly. They are efficient and move fast and you may feel like you don’t want to slow anyone down, but they are there to ensure you have a fun safe parasail. For instance, I made sure to ask how to position my body to make sure the harness doesn’t slip up. While reading about safety I had heard this could happen and they competently explained to keep my knees bent and resist the urge to straighten them once dipped in the water. When in doubt ask, but overall a very fun activity and I felt totally safe the entire time! Two thumbs up for comfort! 🙂
In terms of accessibility, you have to have the strength to hold on to the banana boat and to stand on the rocking boat in the ocean. I give parasailing 3 stars out of 5 for accessibility.
US Dollar: For Hotel Blue I recommend making a reservation at least a month in advance. I booked in February to get a discount and paid $30 to reserve the right to cancel the vacation within 24 hours notice. I DEFINITELY recommend getting this vacation insurance. You never know what could go wrong! I paid via credit card. Phone or website reservations are accepted.
For parasailing I brought the specific amount of cash I would need for parasailing ($60), photos ($30), and tip ($10 for all of us). Ocean Watersports also accepts credit card. I put the money in a zip lock baggy and the zip I put back in the bag and stored it in my swimsuit for safekeeping!
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