South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beach towns in the United States. According to statistics from the official tourist board, Myrtle Beach receives over 19 million visitors each year.
The best attractions in Myrtle Beach are clustered around the beach and boardwalk. You can check out the shops and entertainment options at Broadway on the Beach, take the kids to Ripley’s Aquarium, or go for a ride on the SkyWheel for the best views.
Swim or tan on the beautiful sand of Myrtle Beach. Further away from the shore, there are other attractions such as award-winning golf courses.
Myrtle Beach is the perfect vacation destination for anyone, especially people with families.
However, before you take your kids on the vacation of a lifetime, you want to know that you’re not exposing them to danger, which is why researching the safety of a new destination is important.
This detailed safety guide can help put your mind at ease as you plan your trip to Myrtle Beach. Keep reading for detailed safety information about Myrtle Beach, including crime.
Is Myrtle Beach Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Myrtle Beach is mostly a safe place to visit, although parts of the town have fallen on hard times recently. You will need to take precautions to protect yourself from theft when you visit.
However, the town is for the most part safe and millions of people have positive experiences each year. If you look on online travel forums, Myrtle Beach gets mixed reviews.
Some people claim that they felt unsafe when they visited the town, while others mention that they’ve been vacationing there for years and never felt unsafe. The truth is that Myrtle Beach has an elevated crime rate.
Common incidents include:
- Petty theft
- Vehicle break-ins
- Vehicle theft
However, the reputation of Myrtle Beach frustrates locals, many of whom point out that the city isn’t nearly as dangerous in their experience as people might think.
Some local officials complain that the practice of calculating crime rates per population, when many crimes affect the millions of tourists to the city who don’t get counted in the population. Thus, the rate becomes unfairly skewed.
The local Chamber of Commerce even put out an article explaining why crime data for Myrtle Beach is not as bad as it seems.
They pointed out a few factors that make the crime rate more complex than it seems, from the rate calculation issue mentioned above to the fact that FBI data includes crime data for the entire metropolitan area, but not the population.
Besides crime, there are a few other factors you should consider when thinking about your safety in Myrtle Beach. One of those is natural disasters. The Carolina coast, including Myrtle Beach, is prone to hurricanes.
In recent years, storms have hit Myrtle Beach hard, causing property damage and flooding. It’s best to avoid traveling to Myrtle Beach during peak hurricane season, from August to October.
Even if you travel outside of hurricane season, you might encounter dangers affecting your ability to swim in Myrtle Beach. The area has problems such as riptides, strong currents, and hazardous marine wildlife such as jellyfish.
Sometimes, water bacteria levels are high, making parts of the beach unsafe to swim in. However, the local authorities test the water multiple times a week during the summer and post the results on the site Check My Beach and on signs.
Usually, only parts of the beach are unsafe to swim in, usually the areas around storm drains as water runoff after big storms is impossible to treat properly.
The Myrtle Beach official tourist website offers tips for swimming safely. The heat is strong in the area, so it is important to protect yourself by staying hydrated and applying sunscreen.
Swim safely by avoiding rip currents and areas near piers which are unsafe for swimmers as they attract jellyfish. Follow posted warning flags and any lifeguard advice, especially if you are swimming with children.
Crime in Myrtle Beach
Crime in Myrtle Beach is the primary concern for people visiting the town. This concern is backed up by statistics that certainly seem concerning at first glance.
The crime rate in Myrtle Beach is well above the national average. According to data collected by U.S. News and World Report, the overall crime rate in Myrtle Beach is 398.7 incidents per 100,000 people, far above the national average.
Since 2021, when this statistic was published, Myrtle Beach has dropped far down in the rankings, but it still remains near the top of the list of the most dangerous cities of the U.S.
These statistics certainly show us that Myrtle Beach has problems with safety. However, the situation on the ground is more complex than it might seem.
As mentioned above, the way crime rates are calculated per population unfairly skews the results for Myrtle Beach since many crimes involve tourists. Plus, the vast majority of criminal incidents in Myrtle Beach are property crimes.
According to crime statistics, property crimes make up about 87% of total crimes committed in the town. The most common property crime is theft, which makes up a whopping 81.5% of total property crimes.
Theft is a fairly broad category and includes pickpocketing, shoplifting, and theft from vehicles.
Violent crime makes up the remaining 13% of crime incidents. The most common violent crime is assault, which makes up 63.2% of total violent crimes committed.
Most assault incidents in Myrtle Beach happen between people who know each other, as part of bar fights, or among robberies gone wrong. Robbery is the next most common violent crime, making up about 21% of total violent crimes.
Myrtle Beach certainly has its problems, and according to anecdotal evidence and local crime statistics, it is a more dangerous place than it used to be.
However, millions of people wouldn’t visit annually, many of them return visitors, if they felt unsafe. You should take precautions to protect yourself when traveling to Myrtle Beach, but you shouldn’t let fear ruin your vacation or make you cancel it.
Theft From Vehicles
Different forms of petty theft are common in Myrtle Beach, from pickpocketing to bag snatching. Thieves often target tourists since there are so many of them that come to town each year.
Visitors are advised to keep a close eye on their valuables and never leave their possessions unattended, for example while they are swimming or enjoying amusement park rides.
However, the crime that locals warn visitors about the most when visiting Myrtle Beach is theft from vehicles. Frequently, reports about strings of thefts from cars make local news.
Thieves target locals and visitors alike, although they tend to be more attracted by out-of-state license plates and rental cars. Many visitors drive to Myrtle Beach, leaving them vulnerable to theft.
As long as you are diligent about taking the right precautions, you can avoid being a victim of this crime. Never, ever leave belongings in your car, especially not valuables. Drop your luggage off at your accommodation before driving around and exploring.
If you have to leave something in your car, such as a shopping bag, make sure that it is not visible from outside of the car and that nobody observes you dropping it off.
How and where you park your car can also prevent vehicle break-ins.
Double-check to make sure that you locked the doors and rolled up the windows before leaving your car. Before booking your accommodation, ask about parking options. Parking in a lot is always safer than street parking.
While most crimes affecting tourists in Myrtle Beach are non-violent, there have been a few violent incidents affecting visitors before. Robbery is one of the most common violent crimes visitors encounter there.
The good news is that most robberies happen at night, so avoiding them is pretty easy — don’t be careless about your movements at night. You can explore Myrtle Beach after dark, but stick to popular, well-trafficked areas such as Broadway on the Beach.
Take a taxi to get back to your hotel after dark if it is further away from the central area and never, ever walk alone.
If you decide to risk it and go out in Myrtle Beach after dark, avoid potentially risky areas. Never go down poorly lit side streets. Avoid any poorly lit areas with few people around, such as remote areas of the beach and parking lots.
If you are unlucky and do get robbed, comply with the robber. Hand over your valuables and focus on getting away as soon as possible.
Robberies have escalated into assault in the past. Assaults have also affected tourists before in popular nightlife areas of Myrtle Beach, so always watch your drink intake.
Watching your drink intake is a good idea also to prevent robberies since robbers often target people who are intoxicated and less likely to have their wits about them.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Avoiding bad parts of Myrtle Beach is key to staying safe during your vacation. Most locals tell visitors to be careful on the southern end of the Boardwalk, closer to Family Kingdom Amusement Park and further south.
You can visit this area during the day but be more careful at night.
The area around Myrtle Beach Pavilion is also sketchier these days as many attractions have shut down and there are way fewer people around.
The downtown area of Myrtle Beach isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it gets rowdy, especially at night. It also has the highest theft rate in town because it attracts the most tourists, who are attractive targets for thieves.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for Myrtle Beach:
- Avoid flashing your valuables. Don’t wave around a lot of cash or expensive jewelry (jewelry is not the best choice for a beach vacation anyway). You don’t want to do anything that singles you out as a potential target to thieves.
- Certain periods in Myrtle Beach are more dangerous than others. Crime tends to increase around festivals such as Bike Week, a local motorcycle rally. Bigger crowds are more attractive to thieves, and the out-of-towners that come tend to be rowdier. Book your stay to avoid those weeks.
- Practice safe swimming. Try to swim in parts of the beach where there are lifeguards on duty. Avoid risky behavior, such as diving without checking the depth of the water.
- Don’t flash your hotel keys. You don’t want to advertise the fact that you are a tourist, and you definitely don’t want someone with nefarious intentions to know where you are staying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions people ask before visiting Myrtle Beach:
Is Myrtle Beach safe to vacation at?
Myrtle Beach is mostly a safe place to vacation at, especially if you stick to one of the resorts. However, the town does have an elevated crime rate and visitors are often affected by crimes such as theft.
Is it safe to walk on the beach at night in Myrtle Beach?
Local authorities say that the beach is safe at night. However, use your common sense and don’t go into any remote areas of the beach. Stick to parts of the beach close to the boardwalk so you don’t become a target for a crime.
Is it worth going to Myrtle Beach?
If you’re looking for a classic American beach getaway, then Myrtle Beach is a great place to go. Not only does it have a beautiful shoreline, but it also has plenty of fun and entertainment along the boardwalk.
What is the safest beach in South Carolina?
If you want to stay in South Carolina but are looking for a safer option than Myrtle Beach, then Hilton Head Island is your best choice. That beach has a much lower crime rate than Myrtle Beach.
Why is Myrtle Beach so inexpensive?
Myrtle Beach is an affordable beach destination because its reputation as a place with high crime has driven down local prices. Plus, the town is not quite as attractive a destination as it used to be.
Book Your Trip to Myrtle Beach Today!
Myrtle Beach certainly has its problems, and you should be on your guard against theft due to the high crime rate. However, you can have a safe beach vacation if you take the right precautions. Happy travels!