There are many attractions on the Grand Strand which cater to kids, but few spots take as unique, attention-grabbing or kid-friendly approach as Pirate Adventures of Myrtle Beach.
This fun-filled trip on the “high seas” is now in its fourth year at the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk — sailing seven days a week throughout the summer — and provides the little ones in your family an awesome adventure filled with scurvy pirates and buried treasure.
“We’re one of five ships on the east coast giving this experience,” said Sean Bond owner of Pirate Adventures. “Ours is unique to Murrells Inlet, and we try to use some of the local pirate lore from the Inlet and the area.”
Led by a crew of captains, deck hands and quartermasters, the folks at Pirate Adventures do their best to put kids first throughout the experience.
“We used to have a Pirate Adventure here that was more about storytelling and discovering the stories of local ghosts like the Grey Man and Alice Flagg. But with ours we wanted to do something that was truly for the kids,” he said.
Whether its allowing them to sit on the bow of the boat — giving them a sense of independence and providing parents with a momentary respite of relaxation — or keeping their attention with an exciting narrative and engaging questions, the friendly staff helps make the experience special for all involved.
“We wanted to do this because there’s nothing else on the water that’s targeted for kids and we saw that as an opportunity to open up the experience of being on a boat to young children,” said Bond.
Though the attraction is targeted for ages 10 and under, Bond says between 3 and 8 are really the prime ages for the experience.
“Everything we do is make believe and that’s very good for them to be imaginative and build that imagination,” he said.
Charlene Papel agrees. This Murrells Inlet mom says her sons Mason and Andrew are always wanting to ride and boat and thus she decided to try a trip with Pirate Adventures recently.
“I think it’s great for little kids. I was surprised by how great they did with even the younger kids, said Papel. “I’d definitely recommend it for anyone with kids under 10.”
Taking the ride
From the time you arrive at Crazy Sister Marina, the Pirate Adventures team makes sure to greet your “mates” with a hearty “Ahoy!” and carefully walks them through the process of getting prepared for their voyage.
Pirate beards, mustaches and scars are all encouraged as the little ones get their faces painted with their choice of design, accompanied by a selection of stenciled “tattoos” and a colorful pirate’s vest.
Once they look the part, its on to the nearby Marshwalk to await the arrival of the captain as you take in the beautiful scenery of the Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh and marvel at the Sea Gypsy, a quaint little vessel which serves as your transportation for the day.
After a quick introduction to your crew (ours included Captain “Montana” and Master Gunner “Jib”) it’s time to hit the open water.
As you leave the Marshwalk, and the kids settle into their surroundings — as well as being greeted by a number of passersby who all seem eager to wave — as the crew begins to explain the task at hand.
“It’s a fully-interactive team building exercise where kids must work together to find clues and find the keys to unlock a sunken treasure chest,” explains Bond.
While the kids are busy listening to stories about treasure maps and messages in bottles, they’re also learning to say “Aye! Aye!” in pirate speak and following along to commands like “All hands on deck!”
Before long the evil Pirate Pete, a cast off member of the Sea Gypsy crew, shows his face and riders are forced to defend themselves against the scurvy fiend via the water cannons on each side of the ship.
“The water cannons are one of our most popular things here. The kids really seem to enjoy battling with Pirate Pete,” said Bond.
Even once they’ve survived the close call of a high seas battle, there’s still plenty more to enjoy during the hour-long tour, including mermaids, pirate grog and, of course, sunken treasure.
“What kids doesn’t enjoy finding treasure?” says Bond. “Pirates are definitely something that’s ‘in’ right now with the ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ movies and ‘Jake and The Never Land Pirates’ it’s a big interest for a lot of kids.”
After they’ve have found and pillaged the treasure chest, scooping up as many toys, trinkets and “gold doubloons” as possible, riders complete their voyage with a game of pirate limbo and some refreshing pirate grog to drink.
All in all, it’s a unique adventure that offers a variety of entertaining experiences for kids and is sure to delight parents brave enough to make the journey.
“We’re still a young business, but we think we’ve got something special here and folks are starting to catch on,” said Bond. “Murrells Inlet is becoming more of a destination and it’s not just the hidden gem that it once was: there’s the food, the live music, the boats…we’re just happy to be part of that.”
For more details on Pirate Adventures of Myrtle Beach, visit MyrtleBeachPirates.com
Want to go?
Pirate Adventures is located at 4123 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, at the Crazy Sister Marina on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk. The boat sails seven days a week during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) with multiple cruises per day.
The activity takes about 2 hours and guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes before the boat sets sail so kids can get faces painted, tattoos and pirate attire. Reservations are highly recommended, call 843-651-3676 for times or to book a trip. Pricing is as follows:
• Ages 3 and older: $25 per person
• Younger than 3: $12 per person
• Locals (ages 3+): $19 per person
Note: U.S. Coast Guard rules that all riders onboard are required to be counted on the ships log regardless of age (including babies). At least one adult is required to accompany children.