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Adventurous things to do in Myrtle Beach area

Some folks are more than happy to spend their days baking away in the sun, just relaxing and trying to do as little as possible while in Myrtle Beach. We think those folks are nuts. With so much going on, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of all these great chances for adventure in our area:

Take off on two wheels.

Paved bicycle paths and lanes are spreading in at least three directions in Horry and Georgetown counties. Just bring a bike, water and sunscreen, and start pedaling.

A grass-roots group, Bike the Neck, continues spearheading expansion of the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway, a collaboration of various entities, donations and volunteers, in northeast Georgetown County. Twelve of 27 planned miles are in use, as part of the East Coast Greenway (www.greenway.org) stretching from Maine to Florida:

Four miles through Murrells Inlet along U.S. 17 Business, then bridging to another three miles that line the western fringe of Huntington Beach State Park along U.S. 17.

Four miles from Lakeshore and Boyle drives in northern Litchfield Beach south to Willbrook Boulevard.

One mile between the North and South Causeway roads in Pawleys Island.

In Conway, the city's Greenways Bike Trail starts from the Conway Marina. Choose among three routes: 4.3 miles, 7.4 and 25.4. The longest course ventures northeast from downtown on the Long Avenue Extension, winding its way along parts of Highways 668, 19 and 65 at its farthest point. The other trips keep riders in or close to downtown. Pick up maps at city hall, 229 Main St.

Across Myrtle Beach, bike paths/lanes include:

From about 27th Avenue South to Mallard Lake Drive, the front entrance to Seagate Village, across from Myrtle Beach State Park.

Most of Mr. Joe White Avenue, Robert Grissom Parkway, Harrelson Boulevard, and the east arm of George Bishop Parkway.

Farrow Parkway, across the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base - about 3.6 miles between U.S. 17 and U.S. 17 Business.

Also, check out paths that lead off road north from Grissom Parkway, toward 62nd Avenue North, and a segment along Grissom turning along part of S.C. 31.

Contact info | Bike the Neck: 237-4486 or biketheneck.com; Conway: 248-1760 or e-mail cityhall@cityofconway.com;

Fun factor | Although hills are hard to come by, the luxury of year-round bicycling can provide as much exercise, stress relief and therapy for the mind as the body. Beat the sunrise, hear birds singing and see what the world misses by sleeping in.

Dive deep.

Those looking to discover something new need look no further than underwater.

"It's one of the last great adventures that you can easily obtain," says Cameron Sebastian, operations manager and diving instructor at Coastal Scuba. "You're going into this whole other world on life support, and that's exciting."

Coastal Scuba is one of three area operations that offer folks the chance to discover scuba through hands-on instruction in its 100,000-gallon on-site dive pool.

Its beginner package involves a two-hour class on the basics of breathing and diving before heading out for a highly supervised ocean dive with an instructor. Open water certification packages - which when finished allow folks to participate in solo dives - include two or three pool training sessions and a classroom session and can be completed in as little as 21/2 days.

For folks who are already certified the companies offer full charter services and dives of post-Civil War wrecks and artificial reefs all along the coast.

The area's other dive companies offer similar experiences. Express Water Sports in Murrells Inlet offers dive training and charters in addition to many other activities such as kayaking tours, banana boat rides, fishing charters and parasailing. Myrtle Beach's Nu Horizons Dive and Travel also offers training and charters and runs a dive club for folks looking to get involved with other area divers.

Where | Express: 4042 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; Nu Horizons: 515 U.S. 501, suite A, Myrtle Beach; Coastal: 1901 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach

Pricing | Those wanting introductory packages can expect to spend around $175-250 for classes and materials, while experienced divers looking for charter services can expect to spend between $75-150 depending on the location and length of the trip.

Hours | Express: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week; Nu Horizons: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday

Contact info | Express: 357-3337 or expresswatersports.com; Nu Horizons: 839-1932 or southcarolinadive.com; Coastal: 361-3323 or coastalscuba.com

Fun factor | Trying diving is more of a commitment than it is an impulsive day trip activity, but if you stick with it the rewards can be great. "Within just a few minutes under the ocean folks will see significantly more life than they ever experience on the terrestrial side," says Sebastian.

Fly high.

Those who'd rather take their adventure up in the air instead of under the sea have a pair of options for getting airborne via helicopter.

Huffman Helicopters, on the outskirts of Myrtle Beach International Airport, offers helicopter tours of the coast from Garden City Beach north to the N.C.-S.C. state line. For as little as $20, folks can hop on and take a two-mile ride that heads out around Myrtle Beach State park and back.

"It's a 'bucket list' sort of thing for most folks," says Celeste Rubbo, director of operations "The price is right, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity. It's hard to pass up."

Those on the north end can also get in on the fun as Huffman recently reopened its second location, called Executive Helicopters, near Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach.

Where | South: 3000 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; North: 3102 Terminal St., North Myrtle Beach

Pricing | Tours are $20-$179.99. Custom flights are also available.

Hours | Huffman lists 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as its hours, but Rubbo says they generally fly until visitors stop coming.

Contact info | South: 946-0022 or huffmanhelicopters.com; North: 222-7177 or executiveheli.com

Fun factor | This can be a great experience as long as you know what you're getting into. For $20 per person, you should expect nothing more than a simple up-and-down trip that lasts just a few minutes. However, if you're willing to spend a bit more, you can get some truly amazing views of the area.

Have a close encounter.

With live shows that let you get up close and personal with reptiles and 15 acres to explore, Alligator Adventure is a great place to begin a day full of adventure.

"We have a lot more to do here than people think," says Shana Mitchell, retail manager. "It takes about two hours to go through the whole park, and we do live shows every hour and alligator feedings."

The park plays home to more than 800 alligators and crocodiles that range in size from 8-inch infants to the largest known crocodile in captivity, which weighs a ton and is almost 20 feet long.

But reptiles aren't the only thing crawling around Barefoot Landing's unique habitat.

Alligator Adventure also brings in a bevy of beasts including tigers, otters, beavers, frogs, lemurs and tropical birds. New for this summer are a camel, a zebra and a wolf that is still being trained and should be unveiled in coming weeks.

Where | 4604 U.S. 17, North Myrtle Beach (Barefoot Landing)

Pricing | $15.95 adults, $12.95 seniors, $8.95 children ($1 off online)

Hours | 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. tickets,

Contact info | 361-0789 or alligatoradventure.com

Fun factor | The north end's impromptu zoo does its best to pack the park with plenty to see.

Get a tattoo.

There's no more permanent way to remember your time here than to get some body art to commemorate the occasion.

"A lot of folks, even people from out of state, come in and get the palmetto tree done," said Diana Garon, owner and shop manager of Elite Ink Tattoos.

When it comes to getting ink done in Myrtle Beach, no place offers more options than Seaboard Street. Along this small, bumpy stretch of pavement there are six tattoo shops, all crammed into a single complex.

"We're all just in here because this was the only landlord in town who would allow it in their complex. But [all the shops] get along. It's a great atmosphere down here," she said.

A new law dropping the legal age for tattoo recipients to 18 may have something to do with the shops' sunny outlook. Garon says she's noticed a significant boom in business since the law took effect in April.

Where | The 700 block of Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, between Mr. Joe White Avenue and U.S. 501 is home to Elite Ink, Body Art Ink Tattoos, Pitbull Tattoo Clinic, Premier Tattoo, Karma Tattoos and Bulldawg Ink.

Pricing | Cost varies by design.

Hours | Most shops stay open late and many are open seven days a week. Call for details.

Contact info | Elite: 448-4708 or elitetattooing.com; Body Art Ink: 626-8282 or myspace.com/bodyartinktattoos; Pitbull: 839-1642; Premier: 839-9811 or www.myspace.com/premiertattoomb; Karma: 839-2108 or karmatattooing.com; Bulldawg: 839-4064

Fun factor | For most, getting a tattoo is a great experience. "It's a way of expressing themselves and showing their personal preference. It's a really personal thing," says Garon. Still you have to drop the fun factor a little considering the dull pain of getting a needle poked into your skin for an extended period of time.

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