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This is a unique bridge and should be viewed. Most pontoon bridges are temporary. As far as I know there are only three in the US - one in Seattle, one in Hawaii, and this one. Others exist in Europe or in the Caribbean.
The theory is that a bridge that floats on the surface of the water won't be as likely to be swept away by rising water levels.
The bridge is supported on floating segments, and one section of it is pulled aside by cables to allow boats to pass through. (It is important not to go through the bridge until the cables are out of the way - even if you can't see them, they are there under the water and will damage your boat if you try to rush the bridge opening.)
If there is insufficient water, however, the bridge doesn't float and can't be pulled aside.
The photo shows clearly the single lane which carries traffic across the bridge
Updated Jan 22, 2003
If you are driving to Sunset Beach, there is only one way on and off of the island itself and that is both unusual and a potential source of frustration. The bridge swivels on a pivot point rather than lifting and lowering, which is much more typical. Boats, especially commercial boats, have priority on the Intracoastal Waterway, so you may have a very long wait to get on or off of the island. From 7 PM until 7 AM, commercial boats still have priority but pleasure craft do not, and there are fewer commercial craft plying the evening waters so if you can arrive or depart during those hours, the chances of a lengthy wait are less likely
Written Oct 31, 2005
This bridge is ONE LANE. Traffic can only go one direction at a time. Boat traffic can only go up or down the ICW when the bridge is open stopping traffic.
The bridge opens on the hour, and traffic backs up both directions while it is open. It also opens for commercial traffic (like barges, coast guard boats, rescue boats etc.) whenever needed.
So try to get there on about the half hour when the traffic from the hourly opening has had a chance to move out.
For pictures of the bridge operation - see the travelogue.
Updated Jan 22, 2003
A 1300 acre nature preserve owned by the state of North Carolina lies between Sunset Beach and the South Carolina state line. It is composed of beaches, marshlands, and other wetlands and was purcahsed by the state in 2002 for the primary purpose of maintaining a habitat for wildlife in that area, including several endangered species. The most famous of those species is probably the loggerhead sea turtle but they also include wood storks, piping plovers, Kemp's ridley, and black skimmers.
An unusual feature in the preserve is an old-fashioned rural mailbox. The words "Kindred Spirit" are written where you would normally expect the house number and residents' names to appear. Inside, there is a journal. Visitors are welcome to share their thoughts of the area with future visitors and, of course, to review the reflections of their predecessors.
Written Oct 29, 2005
Golf, meetings, vacations, and even real estate investment opportunities can be yours at the Sea Trail Conference Center and Golf Resort. Three separate courses deigned by three different course designers (Rees Jones, Dan Maples, and Willard Byrd) offer a beautiful array of challenges.
You can take a virtual tour of their courses at their website.
Their overnight accomodations are mostly one to four bedroom villas and start at around $300 per night. They do have planned activities for children and a fitness center which includes a swimming pool.
Updated Oct 31, 2005
Address: 211 Clubhouse Rd, Sunset Beach 28468
There is no golf course on the Sunset Beach island, per se. If, however, you start to go into withdrawal, one of the best courses in the area is just across the Intracoastal Waterway. The Tiger's Eye course features a waterfall, a par 3 island hole, and remarkable elevation changes (a total of about 60"), at least for a course so close to the ocean.
Golf Digest has ranked it as "the third best course in Myrtle Beach." My brother disagrees, but what does he know.
Updated Oct 31, 2005
Address: 360 Ocean Ridge Pkwy SW, Sunset Beach 28469