The Grand Strand stretches 60 miles (97km) along the South Carolina coastline, from Little River to Georgetown. Myrtle Beach lies at its core, a mega entertainment centre replete with beach resorts, seaside communities, and a glitzy collection of uninterrupted commercial development.
The population at Myrtle Beach swells during summer, with vacationers flocking to the funfairs, waterslides, arcades, and shops at its amusement park. When the bright lights and relentless entertainment wear thin, Myrtle Beach State Park offers nature trails, camping, fishing, and swimming.
At the southern end of the Grand Strand lies Georgetown. It's a picturesque historic district and a restored waterfront that buzzes with activity. During colonial times, it boasted a successful plantation culture and was the centre of America's rice empire. A number of estates can still be visited in the area.
A visit to the collection of islands sprinkled about the coast is a popular excursion. Named the Sea Islands, they make up more than half of the South Carolina coastline and are separated from the mainland by estuaries and marshes.
The Sea Islands are traditionally home to black communities called Gullah people, descended from slaves brought to the Carolinas during the 18th century. When freed by the Union army in 1865, the slaves were granted the lands.
They have preserved much of their culture as well as their dialect, a speech heavily influenced by several African languages. During the labour-driven height of the rice culture, slaves from West African rice kingdoms were in high demand so they could teach colonists how to plant and grow rice.