The Museum of Coastal Carolina

The Museum of Coastal Carolina is North Carolina’s only natural history museum on a barrier island, and it is only about 50 minutes from Myrtle Beach.  It is a small building but it is full of interactive, educational, coastal exhibits.

Kelly, my daughter, Hannah, and I arrived on a Saturday morning and were greeted by a friendly volunteer. When we paid our admission fee we were told we could get $1 off our admission to the Ingram Planetarium if we went there the same day and showed them our receipt.  We grabbed a small stapled booklet labeled, “Scavenger Hunt,” (this kept my seven-year-old engaged in the museum exhibits as she checked off certain animals and found different information) and a pencil and began our self-guided tour through the museum.

The ocean reef exhibit.  Picture courtesy of

The ocean reef exhibit. Picture courtesy of

Our first stop was a wave generator where you could turn a speed dial (slow to fast) in order to produce waves and watch what that wave action did to the sand on a beach; we saw the phases of the moon and how that interacted with a low or high tide; and we scooped sand around a replica of a piece of land and watched the water flow change depending on where we “dredged.”  We also saw the bones of a whale, numerous sharks teeth, snakes, a diorama of a forest, and butterflies under a microscope.  There was a room with fish on the walls and a water tank in the middle where a volunteer showed us different salt water species and let us hold starfish, hermit crabs, and a sea anemone.  We walked through a replica of an ocean reef, which was a room darkly lit with blue lights with sea creatures hung around the walls and ceiling so it felt as if they were swimming around us. In another room we saw a movie about sea turtles, created our own puppet show with ocean animal puppets, and put together dinosaur puzzles.  The last room showed us a stuffed American Eagle and owl, displayed a tanned deer skin, a bear skin, and a few other furs that we could touch, and we saw a hollowed out tree which made a canoe and learned about Indian arrows.

Before leaving we turned in our “Scavenger Hunt” booklet and the volunteer let Hannah pick a prize – a shell – out of a container to take home.

There seemed to be just the right amount of hands-on activities and information posted to explain each exhibit so that it kept the attention of my seven-year-old and myself.

The Museum of Coastal Carolina hosts events and educational programs.  Check out their website for schedules and seasonal times.

Located at:
21 East Second Street
Ocean Isle Beach, NC  28469

Cost: $9 adults (ages 13-61); $7 children (ages 3-12); free for ages 2 and under; $8 seniors (age 62+)