Surfside Beach was first incorporated in 1964 with 881 residents. It was previously known as Roach’s Beach and had only a few buildings surviving the hurricane of 1893. Principal industries were lumber and feed farming for the 30 or so horses and mules in the area. The new owner, Mr. George J. Holiday, renamed the area Floral Beach for his wife, Flora, and daughter, Floramay. In the late 1920s, a group from Columbia purchased and partially developed the land. In 1952, most of the land changed hands again and became known as Surfside Beach. The undeveloped beach area was covered with sand dunes; a one-lane sandy road led from the highway to a quiet beach.
Hurricane Hazel in 1954 destroyed 18 of the beach’s 65 houses but did not dampen the spirit of the developers. Lots were cleared, the sand was leveled, topsoil was brought in and T. J. Harrison, who later became the town’s first mayor, opened the first grocery store in 1956 for the six permanent families and summer residents. Significant expansion did not occur until after 1956 when Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was reactivated. By 1964, its reputation as a family beach was further established and the town was becoming a popular place to retire. The new town government increased police protection, mosquito and sanitation control, and street lights and zoning ordinances resulted in increased property values. Public parking and walkways to the beach were established, and government offices were constructed. Within the next few years, the town continued to grow through annexation. Improvements were made to streets and water lines and business and residential building boomed. Surfside Beach, as well as the rest of the Grand Strand, became one of the fastest-growing parts of the country.
Surfside Beach adopted a public-places smoking ban which took effect October 1, 2007. Surfside Beach is the first town in Horry County to enact such a ban and one of only a handful in South Carolina at the time.