Jesse Broadt: Contributor
For most Myrtle Beach visitors and locals, the word “Calabash” refers to seafood that is battered or lightly coated in cornmeal and flash fried. In fact, if someone completes an Internet search using the word Calabash, they will likely turn up more results for seafood restaurants on the Grand Strand than results about the town where this type of seafood got its start, which is the fishing village of Calabash.
For decade after decade, a high percentage of Myrtle Beach restaurants have been embracing this cooking technique and regularly use the term “calabash style” on their marquees and menus.
The actual town of Calabash, however, is located just a quick hop over the state line, in Brunswick County, North Carolina, and is a thriving fishing town as well as a great day trip destination for those vacationing on South Carolina’s Grand Strand. Even though it is geographically located in North Carolina, in the minds of many Myrtle Beach visitors, its true location is simply the northernmost edge of the Grand Strand.
Offering much more than delicious seafood, Calabash is a fast-growing area that may just give vacationers the best of both worlds.
Tranquil day trips can be found in Calabash, North Carolina
For many years, Calabash has been a popular day trip location for South Carolina visitors who want to enjoy a calm day away from the boisterous heart-of-Myrtle Beach atmosphere associated with peak season on the Grand Strand. Such individuals quickly discover that Calabash is not only easy to reach from virtually any area of Myrtle Beach, but crowds, traffic and long restaurant lines also diminish significantly along the way. This is even the case during Myrtle Beach’s peak season, which is something few areas on the Grand Strand can boast.
On any given day in Calabash, North Carolina, the busy waterfront offers relaxing sightseeing opportunities, such as commercial fishermen coming and going with their hauls, as well as recreational fishermen frying up baskets of seafood from that morning’s catch. There are also several riverfront eateries that offer lunch specials, such as fish baskets prepared in the classic style for which the village is known.
Plenty of fishing opportunities are also available for tourists who enjoy the sport, and most will find that even though the Waterfront is a busy section of the town, it is not necessary to fight the type of crowds one would encounter at most Grand Strand piers.
Calabash famous for its fresh seafood options
Leading in the opposite direction from the waterfront, River Road is another popular section of Calabash, which features landmark restaurants, old beach style, family-owned establishments, boutiques and numerous independent businesses still thriving amidst the many big-box retailers and chains of the 21st Century.
With its interesting characteristics and quaint, old-time fishing village charm, it is not difficult to see why many visitors in Myrtle Beach enjoy taking day trips to this area. However, whether or not it is an actual part of the Grand Strand essentially depends on the person to whom one is speaking. There are some who adamantly insist that this town is simply a North Carolina fishing village that has little or nothing to do with Myrtle Beach tourism.
Nevertheless, there are small signs that indicate there are many other people who believe that Calabash is most definitely–at least in theory–part of the Grand Strand. For example, there are several businesses in the Calabash area that use the phrase “Grand Strand” in their name, such as the Grand Strand Coffee Bar on Ocean Highway in the center of Calabash’s shopping district. Such proprietors may simply be cashing in on the popularity of the Grand Strand name, or their titles may be reflective of the way visitors think about the blurry tourism line between North and South Carolina.
Of course, the official ruling would probably have to be that Calabash is not a part of the Grand Strand, since the latter is technically a region in South Carolina. However, in the minds of tourists, the opinion may tip the other way.
Ultimately, regardless of whether or not the general public will ever agree on this matter, one thing is certain; Calabash, North Carolina is a fun and interesting place to visit for essentially any traveler.