Myrtle Beach is situated largely on a barrier island between the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on the west and the Atlantic Ocean (Long Bay) on the East. However, building west of the waterway is rapidly increasing. Land east of the waterway is on 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 kmē), of which, 16.76 square miles (43.5 kmē) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 kmē) of it (0.12%) is water. Myrtle Beach is surrounded by various other towns and beaches, notably Surfside Beach to the south, North Myrtle Beach to the north; and Conway further inland.