5 tips for making the most of your Thanksgiving stay at Ocean Lakes

The holidays have arrived at Ocean Lakes in Myrtle Beach!

We're kicking off a festive week with lots of activities to help you work up that appetite for Thanksgiving and work off some calories after the big feast.

Our Recreation team has expanded the usual Thanksgiving week activity lineup to ensure that our guests - we have a packed house for the holiday - will have plenty of fun things to do.

Our most popular games such as bingo will treat the winners to yummy food items to help round out their Thanksgiving meal, and Santa arrives Saturday with a special breakfast for the little ones.

"We have a jam-packed lineup of fun for everyone in the family," said Salle Horner, Sandy Harbor Recreation supervisor. "The holidays are a special time and we want to give our guests plenty of chances to make wonderful holiday memories that last a lifetime."

Activities kicked off Monday and will continue through the week, including a special edition of Family Minute to Win It - think the popular TV game show with an Ocean Lakes twist - at 7 p.m. Tuesday (sign up in advance in the Recreation Center).

Check out the full lineup of activities.

Our elves are here to help you make the most of your Thanksgiving week at Ocean Lakes with these tips:

Must do - don't miss this!

Breakfast with Santa 

When | 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 25

Where | Recreation Center

The big guy arrives for the holidays Saturday with a fun breakfast party in our Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to noon.

Kids 12 and under are treated with doughnuts and juice; coffee provided for the adults. A face painter will be on hand, and kids can have fun with the craft of the day: making a festive wreath out of paper plates (our Recreation elves will be there to help).

Snap that perfect photo of your little one on Santa's lap, then scoot over to the holiday-themed photo booth and one of our teammates will take a fun picture of your entire family (perfect for your family's Christmas card).

Breakfast with Santa is one of our most popular holiday events, with more than 250 kids giving their wish lists to the big guy last year.

Keep this family tradition

Gingerbread House Making Contest

When | 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23

Where | Recreation Center

Put your twist on this timeless symbol of the holidays. Build a gingerbread house to be entered into our contest!

Build your house and drop it off in the Recreation Center, or bring all your materials to the Recreation Center and build your masterpiece there. Your house must be done by 8 p.m. to be entered into our contest.

Guests will pick the winner with their votes. Voting takes place from 9 a.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Saturday. Winners will be posted at the Recreation Center by 3 p.m. Saturday.

Bonus Elf Tip | Be creative and unique!

Work up your appetite/work off the Thanksgiving calories

Mini Golf and Ping Pong Tournaments

When | Various times throughout the week; check the schedule

Where | Recreation Center and Mini Golf Course

Did you grab that extra piece of pumpkin pie during the Thanksgiving feast? Don't feel guilty - work it off!

We've added more miniature golf and ping pong tournaments this week to give guests the chance to be active. Not your sports? No problem! Swing by the Recreation Center to grab a basketball to enjoy our oceanfront court, rent bicycles, walk the beach or take advantage of the horseshoe and shuffleboard courts by the oceanfront.

The warm, beautiful weather on Thanksgiving day last year sent guests to the beach to make the most of it.

New this year

Christmas Rock Search

When | 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25 until all rocks are found

Where | Throughout the campground, but not on personal property

Kindness rocks decked out for the holidays! Look for 10 specially painted Ocean Lakes Christmas rocks with "Elf, return to Rec" written on them and cash in for a special prize! Take the rock to the Recreation Center and our elves will give you the prize.

Our team will not give any clues to help you find them!

Please help spread the love around - only one winning rock per family!

Bonus Elf Tip | None of our special holiday rocks are hidden near the Main Office and Front Gate, so don't bother wasting time and effort looking there!

Don't forget the reason for the season

Our custom-made manger scene by our three crosses has become a popular spot to take in what Christmas is all about. Swing by and snap a photo.

Thanks for choosing to spend the holidays with us! Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and have a blast during your stay at Ocean Lakes!


Headed this way for Halloweekends? Here's what you need to know

Holy goblins, Bat Sandy!

Starfish Heroes are swooping into Ocean Lakes Family Campground to take this year’s Halloweekends to new superhero heights!

A Howling Good Time Festival with games and fun stations has joined the usual Halloweekend lineup of trick or treating, costume contests, pumpkin carving competitions and the ever-popular Creepy Site Crawl.

The two-hour festival will kick off each Saturday of Halloweekends, transforming our Recreation Center into a Halloween hub with face painting, photo booth, pumpkin ring toss, tattoo station (don’t be scared – they’ll wash off!) and games of chance – guess how many candy corn candies are in the jar and win a prize! The festival will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. during Halloweekend Saturdays (Oct. 14, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28).

“If you’re a Halloweekend veteran and didn’t think it could get any more fun – wait ‘til this year,” said Salle Horner, Sandy Harbor Recreation supervisor who organizes the Halloweekend activities. “We’ve kicked it up a notch with a new Howling Good Time Festival featuring loads of fun for everyone.”

Ocean Lakes’ three Halloweekends  - set for Oct. 13-14, Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28 – consume the campground and feature a nearly non-stop lineup ofactivities. The campground is nearly booked for all three weekends. Please review our policies about masks and face coverings.

Here’s a handy guide to help you make the most of your Halloweekend at Ocean Lakes this year:

 What’s new?

Be on the lookout for special, prize-winning Sandy Starfish Rocks.

Think kindness rocks with a Halloweekend twist.

Every Halloweekend Saturday, 10 Sandy Starfish painted rocks will be hidden throughout the campground. Each special rock will have a note attached and a winner’s sticker. Bring the winning rock to the Recreation Center to collect your prize!

Help spread the fun to others by only collecting one rock per family.

The search starts at 9 a.m. every Halloweekend Saturday (Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28).

Happy Hunting! We promise it won’t take superpowers to find these special rocks.

Trick or treating!

When | 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28)
Where | Throughout the campground

How much candy should I bring?
Simply put, you can never have enough. Halloweekends bring out tons of superheroes, ghosts, goblins and other characters for trick or treating each Saturday.

Bottom line: Spend as much as you feel comfortable with on candy.

Handing out candy? Swing by our Recreation Office before 2 p.m. Saturday to sign up. You’ll get a distinctive Halloween sign to put at your site.

Going trick or treating? The annual tradition starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Swing by the Recreation Office at 4 p.m. that day to pick up the list of treat-friendly sites.

Starfish Heroes

Don’t forget to pack your cape.

This year we’re celebrating the superheroes we look up to and the ones tucked inside each of us with our theme, “Starfish Heroes: Protecting Your Happy Place.”

“Unleash your inner superhero,” Horner said. “Every generation has a superhero they looked up to. It’s a timeless concept that appeals to the kids, adults, grandparents – everyone has that inner superhero craving to come out. What will your superpower be?”

Meet the whole Starfish Heroes gang:

That’s quite the crew! Swing by their hangout near the South Gate and post your photos to our Facebook (@OceanLakesFB) and Twitter (@OceanLakes) pages with the hashtag #halloweekends2017.


Take home a souvenir that will last longer than your Halloween candy. All items are available in the Recreation Center.

Don’t leave without your official Starfish Heroes Halloweekends 2017 T-shirt. This gray shirt features the “Starfish Heroes” symbol on the front and the whole gang busting loose on the back. Adult sizes, $16; $17 for XXL and XXXL; kids’ sizes, $14.

Collect the whole Starfish Heroes gang! Each character has its own cup, each one featuring a custom design and color. Cups are $2 each.

Forget your trick or treat bag? Buy a cool heavy-duty one. Just $3.

Remember family-friendly

Our guests go all out with their Halloween decorations and costumes – we love that – but remember that Halloweekends are focused on families.

Be creative, but keep it clean. Be scary, but not so much that you’d make a little one cry.

South Gate

Our South Gate will be open to help all the Halloween revelers get in as quick as possible to start having fun! The South Gate will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each Friday and Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through October.

No outside superheroes allowed

Our Halloweekend activities are only for guests staying at Ocean Lakes and our annual lease site holders.

And most important – have a blast, Superheroes!


5 things you need to know about the Harley-Davidson fall rally

Welcome bikers! Bikers will be rolling into Ocean Lakes next week as the Hurricane Alley Fall Rally kicks into gear.

The rally - which starts Monday, Oct. 2 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 8 - attracts thousands of bikers to the Grand Strand for rides and events, but is much smaller than the spring Harley-Davidson rally in May.

We want all our guests who are here for the fall rally to have a fun, safe visit! Below are a few reminders about our rules, information about parking and tips to make your stay as smooth as possible.

Motorcycle rules

You cannot ride your motorcycle through the campground. Riding motorcycles past the designated area at the entrance (signs mark the boundaries of the designated area) or coasting (not under power but with a guest sitting on the seat) are NOT permitted.

Rope and motorcycle dolly towing are permitted to and from your rental site or campsite.

Three-wheel rides such as Can-Am Spyders and Polaris Slingshots must follow motorcycle rules - they aren’t allowed in the campground and must park in the designated motorcycle lot by the South Gate.


Motorcycle parking

We have a designated area for motorcycle parking at the South Gate entrance. There is no charge to park in this area. You must be a registered guest of Ocean Lakes to park in our designated motorcycle parking area.

Trailer parking

Guests can park their utility trailers at their site if it safely and completely fits in their reserved home site or campsite.

If that doesn’t work, trailer parking will be available in our West Lot, across the street from the campground with easy access off S.C. 544. Cost is $5 a day. This is for storage; you will not have 24-hour access to use your trailer as the place to park your motorcycle at the end of the day.

Swing by our Main Office to purchase a pass for our storage lot.

Getting into Ocean Lakes

The South Gate will be open for the fall rally weekend. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

This will allow more convenient access to the designated motorcycle parking area and help alleviate congestion at our Main Gate.


Guests can unload their motorcycles at the South Gate parking lot or in the West Lot trailer storage area off S.C. 544 across the street from the campground.

We recommend that you do NOT unload motorcycles at your rental house or campsite unless you have a tow dolly. Remember – you won’t be able to ride your motorcycle from your site.

Have fun and ride safe!


Ocean Lakes water park to wrap up season; sets 2018 schedule

Our water park will wrap up its 2017 season at the end of September, capping its second year of providing fun and thrills for Ocean Lakes guests.

The Sandy Harbor Water Park, which has become one of our most popular amenities since its debut in May 2016, will shut down at the end of operation Sunday, Oct. 1 until next spring.

“Our guests have had a blast at Sandy Harbor this year,” said Morgan Blackmon, our Aquatics Supervisor. “Guests would spend all day racing down the slides or relaxing while floating along the lazy river – then come back the next day for more.”

The water park scaled back hours after Labor Day, when other area water attractions shut down for the year. But the Ocean Lakes team worked to extend our water park season beyond the traditional last hurrah of summer.

This is the second fall for our water park, and we set a consistent schedule after learning a year ago what works best for this new amenity.

“Last year was a trial run for everything,” Blackmon said. “We learned a lot from last year.”

The post-Labor Day hours:

Adventure (lazy) River and Splash Zone | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through Oct. 1
Drop Zone Mat Racer and The Tube slides (including the tube slides in the Splash Zone) | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 1; closed on the weekdays
Outdoor pool | 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. It will be open into the fall until it is too chilly to swim.
Indoor pool | 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Open year round.

We let guests know well in advance about the planned fall schedule, posting it on our website, blog and social media.

But some guests still have had questions. We’ve answered a few of the most common ones here:

Why aren’t the slides open during the week?

The slides require additional lifeguards – mandated by state regulations – and certified lifeguards are hard to find after Labor Day. This includes the Drop Zone Mat Racer, The Tube and the slides in the Splash Zone.

Many of our lifeguards are teachers or students in high school or college who return to class and are no longer available to work after the summer. Our team has worked hard to recruit certified lifeguards into the fall. About 70 lifeguards worked the water park during the summer.

We cannot operate the slides without the lifeguards required by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. And we aren’t going to put our guests at risk by operating the slides without those lifeguards.

“That’s my biggest thing – safety,” Blackmon said.

Will the water park be open during Halloweekends?

No. By mid-October, it’s getting a bit chilly to splash around in the water. And there’s also the staffing dilemma; most of our lifeguards are high school and college students who have returned to class.

But there’s still plenty to do during our Halloweekends, including costume contests, trick or treating and site decorating competitions.

When will the pools close?

Our indoor pool is open year round. Our outdoor pool stays open until it’s too chilly to swim, which is usually some time in October.

When will the water park open in 2018?

The water park will open for Easter weekend March 30-April 1, then will shut down until May.

The rest of the 2018 schedule:

May 1 | Weekends only (Saturday and Sunday) with “hours as posted”

Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day | Open every day with summer hours

Post Labor Day | Open “hours as posted” through Sept. 30. The lazy river and Splash Zone will be open every day; the slides will be open Saturdays and Sundays only


Ocean Lakes fares well from Tropical Storm Irma, clean up underway

We’ve fared well from Tropical Storm Irma. Lots of leaves and limbs scattered throughout the campground, but overall we are in good shape.

The recently completed beach renourishment was finished just in time to protect us from this storm.

“Thank God we got the renourishment when we did,” Lance Thompson, Ocean Lakes General Manager and Vice President, said while standing on the beach Tuesday morning. “It could have been a lot worse.”

There’s still some cleanup to do - mainly from downed leaves and limbs - and our team already has jumped on it. Our camper storage lots look good, no flooding or downed trees.


Our team has cleared outfall drainage pipes of sand the storm had pushed into them to get water flowing freely again. Lakes levels already are dropping, and the ponding around some of the lakes such as Sand Dollar Lake also is clearing.

Horry County Stormwater crews were on site first thing this morning ensuring that drains are clear.


Lots of leaves and limbs are scattered throughout the campground. 

If you collect debris at your site, please help us out and drop it off at the designated areas by the South Gate. This will help us get all the limbs and leaves out of here quickly.

Crews also will be out today cleaning sand from beach accesses.

“We weathered the storm quite well with just your standard storm debris, tree limbs,” Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter said.

Operations Manager Kevin McWhirter (left) talks with Lance Thompson, General Manager and Vice President, about clean-up efforts from Tropical Storm Irma on Tuesday morning.