It is situated mainly between the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on the west and the Atlantic Ocean (Long Bay) on the East, although building west of the waterway is rapidly increasing. Much of the area between the coast and the waterway is a slightly elevated sandbar or dune area. West of the waterway the land is mostly pine forest with a normal high water table, in which developers dredge ponds and use the soil to create elevated areas for better drainage around buildings. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.8 square miles (43.5 km?), of which, 16.8 square miles (43.5 km?) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km?) of it (0.12%) is water.
Myrtle Beach is the largest principal city of the Myrtle Beach-Conway-Georgetown CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach metropolitan area (Horry County) and the Georgetown micropolitan area (Georgetown County), which had a combined population of 273,405 at the 2000 census.