White Lake’s Triple Treat

White Lake, N.C. – Myrtle Beach without the frenzy.

Drive east about 173 miles to White Lake, N.C., (about three hours) and you’ll get a triple treat. You’ll see a Carolina bay, White Lake, which was a legendary shag haunt during the early days of North and South Carolina’s official state dance. You’ll see to a miniature Myrtle Beach.

It was here that the Queen of Shag, Clarice Reavis of Fayetteville, N.C., danced during the shag’s formative days at Goldston’s Beach in the 1930s. The late Harry Driver, considered the “Father of the Shag” by some, recalled listening to “race” and Hit Parade music at White Lake’s Crystal Club during World War II when German submarines prowled coastal waters and blackouts forced the dancers inland. The Crystal Club, by the way, was notorious for the male dancers’ fistfights. That was back in shag’s rowdier times. Today it’s a family oriented place.

At White lake you have a fascinating natural and cultural confluence: one of the larger Carolina bays in the region, an historic shag venue, and a summer hotspot for people who like the trappings of Myrtle Beach without having to go to the beach. The population is small during the off season but when the summer vacation season arrives the population skyrockets as families and visitors from West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and beyond come to the shores of this Carolina bay known for its white, sandy bottom and clear waters. Swimming here is not as dangerous as the beach with its currents. Some, in fact, refer to this shallow lake of 1,100 acres as “The Nation’s Safest Beach.”

You don’t have to be a beach goer or a shagger to enjoy a visit to White Lake. Let the naturalist in you enjoy this Carolina bay, a unique landform that has long baffled scientists as its origin goes. Was it created by artesian springs? Spawning fish? A meteorite bombardment or limestone sinkholes? Or as many believe, the long-term effects of prevailing winds and associated currents? Given the fact that all bays are oriented from the northwest to the southeast, the oriented wind theory holds water . . .

White Lake is a place to remember as winter sets in. Why not plan a daytrip to White Lake next summer to see this miniature version of Myrtle Beach. You’ll see water parks, putt putt courses and houses on stilts — just like you see at the beach. You’ll find motel, cottage and campground accommodations available as well as permanent home sites.

It’s a lot like Myrtle Beach, but nowhere as frenzied. It’s family friendly with a laid back style. A lady working on the sign for her rental property summed things up nicely: “We don’t get excited about anything here.”

Pay it a visit and take the road that circles the lake and see if you don’t get the feeling you’re at Myrtle Beach. You’ll get excited when you realize just how unique it is to get a real “beachy” feeling some 90 miles from Myrtle Beach.

If You Go …

www.whitelakenc.com/

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at www.tompoland.net. Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]