Are There Alligators in Myrtle Beach?

Updated On October 3, 2023
Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is a fancy resort town on the north coast of South Carolina.

It is toward the north end of the range of alligators in the United States, so there are probably some around.

You will not likely find any in Myrtle Beach though, because it is usually crowded and alligators tend to avoid crowds of people.

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach

So… Are There Alligators in Myrtle Beach?

There are probably no alligators on the beach itself, but there are alligators in the area.

Alligators that live in the United States do not like salt water, and they are not overly fond of beaches, so you may not see one there.

They like slow-moving warm water, marshes, and swamps.

There are plenty of areas like that in the immediate area around Myrtle Beach and there are alligators there.

Even though they are not salt-water-friendly creatures, alligators still like to live around coastal areas.

They range from Virginia, around Florida, and all the way along the coast of Texas, and live near coastal areas.

But Myrtle Beach is close to the North Carolina border, and the further north you go, the fewer alligators you will see.

There are a lot more of them along the coast of Florida and Georgia, and not nearly as many as far north as Myrtle Beach.

Alligator attacks on humans are rare, less than one per year on average.

Even so, in June of 2022, there was a report of an alligator attacking someone and killing them near a boat dock close to Myrtle Beach.

There are an estimated 100,000 alligators in South Carolina.

Most of them live in lowland and marshy areas, and most of them are in the southern part of the state.

Even so, there are quite a few around Myrtle Beach.

There are two state parks and a few other places where you can see alligators very close to Myrtle Beach.

There is one garden area that has alligators.

There are a couple of enclosed areas that have alligators where you can see them up close, but there is a fee.

Alligator Species in Myrtle Beach

Alligators native to the Myrtle Beach area are part of the species called American Alligators, and they are the only species of alligator native to the United States.

There are only one other species of alligator and it lives in China.

Alligators are part of the crocodile family, but it would be extremely rare to see a crocodile around Myrtle Beach.

Is it Safe to Swim in Myrtle Beach?

It is very safe to swim at Myrtle Beach.

Since the 1950s, the town has developed into a tourist resort for ordinary men.

The beach is long and wide, and a huge part of the appeal.

You will not likely see an alligator in the tourist areas of Myrtle Beach.

Avoid swimming in the state parks where there are alligators, especially at night.

Alligators are on the prowl for food at night, and they will eat anything they can find.

During the day, alligators seem content to lie in the sun and are not dangerous.

Even so, you should use common sense and not approach them.

There are some dangers at Myrtle Beach, however.

There are jellyfish and stingrays in the surf that can cause very painful stings.

Fortunately, they are easy to spot and easy to avoid in most cases.

If there are a lot of them, swimming may be prohibited for a time, and it is not wise to violate that prohibition.

The sun can also be very hot in the summer.

You can get sunburn easily.

Use sunscreen, and if you are in the water for a long time, use it again, even if it claims to be waterproof.

Myrtle Beach itself is a very safe place to swim.

The waves are not usually high at all in summer and the tide comes in slowly.

The water is not deep for a long way. 

Drowning is the most common problem for injuries in Myrtle Beach.

As many as 10 people die from drowning, and 100 more seek treatment for near-drowning each year in the Myrtle Beach area.

That sounds like a lot, but the beach gets 19 million visitors each year.

Accidents can be caused by many things.

You could just fall into the water, or you could get knocked down by a hard wave. Boating accidents also happen regularly.

Interesting Alligator Facts in Myrtle Beach

Alligators can live up to 60 years.

In one of the areas that have enclosed alligators open to tourists, there is an alligator that is about 50 years old.

This is a marshy area very close to the beach that has restaurants and other businesses.

There is an area set aside for alligators and you can get close to them there.

There are a lot more of them, but the 50-year-old one is the main attraction.

It can get cold in Myrtle Beach but rarely drops below freezing.

Alligators can go into a brumation stage, which is like hibernation for mammals.

Their body slows down a lot and they don’t eat or move very much at all.

This can last as long as the weather stays cold.

They usually enter this brumation state when the temperature gets into the 50s.

April to June is the mating season, and that is when alligators are the most active and tend to be the most aggressive.

A mother alligator will fiercely defend her eggs and her young.

It is very dangerous to get close to a baby alligator because the mother is close and will attack.

Alligators are very quick over short distances.

They can probably outrun you for about 50 feet.

This is why wildlife officials recommend staying 50 feet away.

If one starts charging toward you, run away because the alligator won’t chase you for a long distance.

There are a lot of golf courses around Myrtle Beach, and most of them have some patches of water or ponds.

Those are prime areas for alligators.

It is not uncommon to see an alligator relaxing on a green at a golf course, or on the banks of a pond. 

They will not likely attack you, but it is best to steer clear and stay 50 feet away. 

Alligators eat only about once a week and store excess fat in their tails.

Because of the reserves in the tail, an alligator can go as much as a year without eating.


Alligators vs. Crocodiles

Alligators are a species of crocodile, and there are only two species.

Virtually all alligators you see in the United States will be common American Alligators.

There are a few crocodiles at the south end of Florida and that is the only place in the United States where crocodiles are native residents.

Here are some differences between them:

  • Alligators have wider mouths and snouts. Their teeth are hidden when they close their mouths. Crocodiles’ teeth are visible when they close their mouth, perhaps because their snout is narrower.
  • Alligators are dark colored, black or gray, and have a creme-colored underbelly. Crocodiles are green and are lighter in color, and have a white underbelly.
  • Adult alligators are between eight and 11 feet long and weigh between 400 and 800 pounds. Crocodiles are 10-20 feet long and can weigh as much as 2000 pounds.
  • Alligators have webbed feet and are better swimmers. Crocodiles do not have webbed feet and have a jagged fringe on their toes.
  • Crocodiles have about 80 teeth, while alligators have about 60.
  • Alligators are intolerant of saltwater and avoid it as much as possible. Crocodiles prefer salt water but are fine in freshwater too.
  • Crocodiles are not as quick as alligators, but they are both opportunistic feeders. This means they wait for their prey to get close and then they attack. Both will eat whatever is available in most cases.

3 Safety Tips for Swiming in Alligator-infested Waters 

The water around Myrtle Beach is not exactly infested with alligators, but they are around at times, so it is a good idea to be watchful and pay attention to your surroundings.

Here are three safety tips.

  1. Keep your eyes open. You may not find one swimming in the surf in front of your beachfront hotel, but they frequent ponds and other bodies of water in the area. Stay 50 feet away if you see one. Do not approach it or interact in any way. It is a good idea to get out of the water if you see one in the water anywhere close to where you are. They are great swimmers.
  2. Swim only in designated areas. Local experts know the dangers and they know what is around. If they tell you there might be alligators, or some other predator in the area, believe them and do as they say. If you do see one, report it to park officials because they will want to know. Designated areas are safe for swimming. Don’t go off the beaten path.
  3. Don’t feed alligators. Keep in mind that if you are cleaning fish you caught, and you leave scraps behind, you are in essence feeding the alligators. Feeding them makes them dependent on humans, and makes them associate food with humans. This makes them bolder in approaching people, which can be dangerous. Do not interact with alligators at all, they can be dangerous beyond food considerations.


Myrtle Beach is a great vacation area, and there are alligators in the immediate area.

Since it is a crowded tourist area, officials keep alligators off the beach and away from tourists as much as possible.

You can still see them but you will have to look for them.

Myrtle Beach is toward the north end of the range of alligators in the United States.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many people are injured or killed by alligators each year?

There was a fatality in the summer of 2022 in Myrtle Beach when an alligator attacked a 75-year-old man and killed him.

These attacks are rare though.

Since 2000, there have been 21 people injured or killed in South Carolina by alligators.

The fatality in Myrtle Beach was the first one in more than two decades.

What do alligators eat?

Alligators are considered opportunistic feeders, meaning they eat what is available and are able to adjust well.

Alligators eat fish, turtles, snakes, birds, and small animals.

They have been known to eat dogs.

It is extremely rare for them to eat a human.

Alligators do not have to eat every day and do not eat as much as you might think.

A 1,000-pound alligator eats less than a 100-pound dog will eat over the course of a year.

Are alligators growing in the population?

Alligators were nearly extinct in the United States in 1970 due to overhunting and shrinking habitat.

They were declared an endangered species then and were recently taken off the endangered list.

Due to wildlife management practices, there are a lot of alligators now in the United States and their population seems healthy.

As a result, they are becoming more common around Myrtle Beach.

1 Comment on Are There Alligators in Myrtle Beach?

  1. So there are probably some around, but you will not likely find any in Myrtle Beach itself because it is usually crowded and alligators tend to avoid crowds of people.

    Overall, Myrtle Beach is a safe place to swim and enjoy the beach, just be aware of your surroundings and follow safety tips when swimming in areas where alligators may be present.

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