We set out at 8am from Sandy Island Landing heading for the Dunes on the Southwest side of Sandy Island. After about a half mile of paddling on a canal from the landing, we turned left into the main channel of the Waccamaw River.
The river here is pretty wide, but we were riding the falling tide on our way out. On this section of the river we encountered a few dolphins and several birds. After about 1.7 miles, we headed up Thoroughfare Creek to the right. This section is a not as wide with less effect from the tidal currents. From there it's about a mile to the dunes, which were clearly visible on the right bank.
We took a break on the island at the top of the dunes (which looks into a fishing lagoon) and walked some of the nature trails on the island before heading back. We hadn't seen any boats on our way out, but occasionally passed a few fishermen and pontoon boats on our way back. The final stretch on the Waccamaw was tougher, since we were working against the tide. Planning this trip around the tides is recommended.
All in all, its a great trip. Leaving in the morning gives you the river to yourself and you'll probably see plenty of birds, turtles, fish, and maybe even dolphins or alligators. It's a little further down from where lots of paddlers choose to explore, but it makes for a good day trip if you're staying somewhere along the Grand Strand.
Landing includes gravel parking, picnic area, dock and unpaved launch ramp
From US-17 South (heading from Myrtle Beach and Wilmington), take a right just past Brookgreen Gardens onto Sandy Island Rd. Follow the road to the landing at the end.
From US-17 N (Heading from Pawleys Island and Charleston)take a left onto Sandy Island Rd about 1 mile past the light at Litchfield's main gate (Willbrook Blvd) and follow the road to the landing at the end.