Slightly South on the Strand: Pawleys Island
Many visitors to the Grand Strand are familiar with The Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock, but may not know much about Pawleys Island itself.
Pawleys Island is located about 15 minutes south of Garden City, between Georgetown and Murrells Inlet. The actual town of PI is on the island itself, a barrier piece of land on which hundreds of old cypress sided beach houses and cottages stand. You may have heard the term “Arrogantly Shabby,” which is something of a Pawleys motto. Islanders, some of whose families have had houses on the island since the 1920’s, pride themselves on being a community in which there are no modern condos or houses. The more weathered and full of history a property is, the better. The island is a nice scenic drive, with quite a few historical landmarks, such as the Pelican Inn. Just be careful to heed the 25 mph speed limit, as the town police officers are quick to pull someone going one mile an hour over; it happens all the time!
Of course, Pawleys local history and lore wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Grey Man.
Perhaps the most frequently told ghost story in Georgetown County is that of the Grey Man. According to numerous documented accounts, he appears on the beach at Pawleys Island prior to hurricanes. Everyone who has seen the Grey Man says that he warns them to leave the island.
Residents who are wise enough to heed the Grey Man's warning always find their homes undamaged after the storm. Encounters with the Grey Man have taken place before every major hurricane that has struck the island for more than a hundred years.
If you feel like taking a short drive in the opposite direction of Myrtle Beach, the mainland area, connected to the island by 2 causeways, boasts a lovely array of charming shops and restaurants. Probably the most famous of these is of course The Hammock Shops themselves, home of the aforementioned Original Rope Hammock. Nestled amongst live oaks, the shops have everything from an upscale restaurant and quaint gourmet café, to a Christmas shop, an art gallery, clothing stores and a toy store. It’s definitely worth taking a nice afternoon to stroll through.
Another place to visit is the Litchfield Exchange, located on Highway 17 just slightly north of Pawleys Island. Here you will find quite a few shops and more than one art gallery- be sure to inquire, as they often offer introductory art classes, even for visitors. Imagine being able to tell your friends back home that you not only got to relax on the beach, but learned to paint or make glass as well!
The real appeal of the Exchange however is the Italian eatery Pastaria 811, a local secret for more than 15 years. Rather than advertising, the restaurant relies on word of mouth and it has served them well. They boast a great selection of both traditional and non traditional dishes, and the food is absolutely amazing. Try the Pasta Roma or the Mangia Salad, and if you’re a fan of tomatoes, their cucumber and Abruzzi tomato salad is a must. Do yourself a favor and visit Pastaria during your visit. Hours vary seasonally, so be sure to call in advance for operation times.