Eight Free Things To Do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Caswell Beach Oak Island Lighthouse

Sometimes the best things in life are free, and that is no exception in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. This summer discover just how easy it is to go big on a budget in the Brunswick Islands. When you’re visiting, be sure to check out the below eight free activities that are sure to bring on the smiles without breaking the bank or sacrificing the fun factor.

1. Oak Island Lighthouse

Located on Caswell Beach, the Oak Island Lighthouse is a must-visit spot that proves it is possible to elevate your vacation experience at no added cost. The 153-foot structure is the last lighthouse built in North Carolina. While tours to the top of this 15-story beauty are free, friendly donations from visitors are always appreciated and help ensure that future travelers to the area will enjoy the scenic views awaiting atop the 131-step series of ships ladders.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

 2. Kindred Spirit Mailbox

While walks along the beach are always a priceless perk of a coastal getaway, at the Brunswick Islands you can take a tranquil stroll to a tucked away mailbox full of secrets. Standing in the sands of beautiful Bird Island is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. This mailbox to nowhere is a true hidden gem holding small notebooks full of the thoughts, dreams, wishes and prayers of wayward travelers. Walk along Bird Island and see the mailbox firsthand to soak in the magic and add your own musings to the ever-growing collection.

 

3. North Carolina Maritime Museum

Venture to Southport to visit one of the three maritime museums sponsored by the state of North Carolina. Visitors to the museum can dive into the rich history of the Cape Fear River region. The museum’s well curated collection tells the story of the region and covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, and other nautical adventures. While admission to the Maritime Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

Southport tour

 4. Self-Guided Tour of Southport

One authentic and charming way to explore the area is by foot. Spend less and see more with a self-guided tour starting at the Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center. Here maps and brochures that will lead your journey through historic Southport can be found. Stops include churches and homes dating back to the 1800s as well as landmarks like City Hall, the Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and River Pilots Tower. Southport, “American’s Happiest Seaside Town” as noted by Coastal Living, has been a beloved Brunswick Islands destination since the late 1700s. No stranger to the spotlight, Southport’s innately picturesque scenery has served as the backdrop to many popular films and TV shows such as Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember and The Secret Life of Bees.

Brunswick Town

5. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

History buffs will delight in a day trip to the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site. Admission is free and grants visitors access to tour and roam what is left of old Brunswick, a major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. Brunswick Town was razed by British troops in 1776. While the town was never rebuilt, during the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on the old town grounds and functioned until the fall of the Confederacy. Today notable sites include the hulk of what was once Brunswick’s St. Philip’s Anglican Church and remains of a sea captain’s house used by royal governors.

sea turtle

 6. Turtle Talks

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to unforgettable and wonderful wildlife experiences. Loggerhead sea turtles are known to frequent the area, and sometimes lucky visitors are able to catch a glimpse of a magnificent sea turtle gliding through the ocean waves or watch in awe as baby sea turtles make their way toward the sea. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free seminars, designed for the whole family, to share important information about protecting loggerhead sea turtles. These “Turtle Talks” can are held late spring through summer. See our calendar of events for details.

7. Summer Concerts

The ways to enjoy some free fun in the sun continue with summer concerts at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Starting in May through Labor Day week each of our beach communities hold live music performances that are free to enjoy and perfect for family members of all ages. Each community has their own schedule and performing artists change every week, so be sure to check out our calendar of events for more information on who will be playing during your stay.

Farmers Market

8. Farmers Market

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, it is easy to live like a local with summer outdoor farmers markets starting up in May. Many of our friendly beach communities host their own outdoor market, some located along the waterfront, offering fine artisanal goods, locally grown produce, baked goods, photography, pottery and other handcrafted items. While the fresh and local goodies are for sale, a stroll through one of our quaint farmers markets is a relaxing way to enjoy a morning at the beach.  See our calendar of events for locations and times.

For more information on things to do at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Get on Board in the Brunswick Islands

SUP NC's Brunswick Islands

Temperatures are heating up and there is no better place to cool down and make a splash than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Boasting 45 miles of pristine beaches as well as beautiful marshes, creeks and estuaries along the Intracoastal Waterway, the Brunswick Islands beckons visitors to kayak, paddle, surf and boat their way to an unforgettable vacation experience. With so many ways to suit up and explore, aquatic adventure seekers will find getting on board with the Brunswick Islands is a breeze!

Kayaking NC's Brunswick Islands

Kayak

Experienced and amateur kayakers alike will revel in the incredible opportunities for sightseeing and adventure in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While the crashing waves of our beautiful beaches draw guests year after year, the miles of salt marsh creeks and rivers as well as the Intercoastal Waterway await exploration. Individual kayak rentals and guided tours are available to help visitors gear up and get on the water. Whether chasing the colorful sunset, watching for native wildlife, stargazing or just looking to get active, kayaking through the Brunswick Islands promises to be a unique and unforgettable aquatic experience.

 Paddleboarding

Paddle

Visitors can put balance and coordination to the test by trying stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). The smooth channels of the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks and island canals are perfect for renting a board and getting out on the water. Stand up and paddle your way through stunning coastal North Carolina scenery, or kick things up a notch by trying a hand at SUP yoga. The Carolina School of Surf offers SUP yoga classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced athletes.

 

Surf

Those with a need for speed and seeking a faster-paced adventure are welcome to head straight into the surf with their board to catch a wave and show off their skills. Never tried surfing? Not a problem! Several local outfitters offer surf lessons suited for all ages and skill levels. The combination of our gentle sloping beaches allowing for waves to break softly and the relatively smaller waves seen in the area make the Brunswick Islands the perfect location to get on a surf board and learn a new skill.

 Boating NC's Brunswick Islands

Boat

The peaceful and spectacular Brunswick Island waterways can also be traveled by boat. Local charters and water taxis are available for visitors looking for a relaxing guided aquatic excursion. Fishermen both experienced and new will find many fishing charter options available. Additionally, visitors with their own boat, kayak or paddleboard can find free public ramps and launch sites throughout the Brunswick Islands for easy access to all the wonderful waterways waiting to be discovered.

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to a number of expert adventure outfitters that can provide equipment, training and guide services for your next aquatic adventure. Get on board and discover just how many ways you can explore the tranquil coastal waters during your next visit to the Brunswick Islands.

For more information on attractions and activities at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Forecast Reads 100% Chance of Fun with these Rainy Day Beach Activities

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Sometimes cloudy skies decide to follow you on your vacation. Even the best-laid beach plans can be interrupted by a bit of inclement weather. While sunny skies are always ideal for a coastal getaway, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offer an abundance of enticing indoor activities that are not only unbeatable elements of a foolproof rain plan, but also make for incredible vacation stops to experience under the clearest of skies. No matter the weather, the travel forecast will read 100% chance of fun with these indoor activities and experiences.

NC Maritime Museum in Southport

Learn Something New

While our 45 miles of tranquil beaches are no stranger to the national spotlight, our scenic and lively community offers visitors more than just sand and surf. History buffs can venture to Southport to experience Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors Center and the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Fort Johnston-Southport Museum, originally built by the British in the mid-1700s, offers docent lead or self-guided tours showcasing the history, heritage and culture of Southport. For an even broader look into the history of the Brunswick Islands, the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport shares the story of the Cape Fear region, complete with pirates, blockade running, riverfront archaeology and more. Science seekers can enjoy a rainy day spent under the stars at the Ingram Planetarium on Sunset Beach or a day spent exploring one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast at the Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach. The Visitors Center at Brunswick Town Fort Anderson in Winnabow includes a video history of the site as well as archaeological artifacts. Guests of all ages and interests can immerse in the rich history and unique culture of the Brunswick Islands with an incredible array of indoor museums and historic attractions that prove a rainy day at the beach still beats a sunny day at the office.

breweries and wineries

Check Out the Culinary Scene

Enacting a rain plan shouldn’t mean taking a raincheck on a good time. With countless culinary experiences offering the best in seafood, family dining and international cuisine, there are endless opportunities to spend quality time with your family and travel companions around a fun and flavorful meal. The booming restaurant scene of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is accompanied by a handful of local hotspots serving up good times by the glass. Makai Brewing Company not only crafts tasty Brunswick Islands brews, but also brings the spirit of Hawaii to even the most overcast of days. Craft beer connoisseurs can also swing by veteran-owned Check Six Brewing Company or the Brunswick Islands’ newest brewery, 34° North Experiment Station Brewery. Check Six offers free brewery tours and features a taproom boasting a fun historical and early aviation theme. 34° North Experiment Station Brewery is the second location for the Red Hare Brewing Company where guests can enjoy small batches of funky experimental beers, inspired by the wild yeast and bacteria of the coastal winds. Local flavors can also be found at Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach where guests can enjoy winery tours, tastings, an art gallery, gift shop and more.

Take Time for Retail or Spa Therapy

When life gives you rain, seek a little retail therapy. Throughout our islands and towns, a large selection of specialty shops, art galleries, local craft boutiques and antique treasures await. Whether you are on the hunt for the perfect souvenir or a little something special, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for among a beautiful coastal backdrop, stunning southern homes and charming streets. For Christmas in July, visitors can stop by The Christmas House in Southport or St. Nick Knacks/Callahan’s in Calabash for a fun collection of festive goodies sure to make a rainy day feel like the most wonderful time of the year. No matter your taste or budget, there is something for everyone to shop and experience.  For a little “me time” try a trip to one of the area’s many day spas for some pampering.

For even more rainy day itinerary ideas, ask a local! Members of our friendly coastal community are sure to have the inside scoop on how to make the most of what Mother Nature has in store. Rain or shine, a vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is always a good time.

For more information on things to do at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

The Best Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms that Love the Beach

Spring is here and that means it is time to get ready to celebrate that one very special lady in your life. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it is never too early to start planning how to show mom just how much you care. For moms that live by the motto “life is better in flip-flops” think beyond flowers this Mother’s Day and get coastal at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Check out our list of the perfect gifts for moms who always seem to have the beach on the brain!

Toast to Mom at Silver Coast Winery

Say “cheers” to mom this Mother’s Day with a trip to Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach. The Silver Coast Winery story began on Mother’s Day 2002 when owner Maryann Azzato was gifted a half-acre plot of land from her husband, Dr. Bud. A full family affair, Maryann along with her siblings and children planted the very grapes that would grow to become this local gem and Mother’s Day must. The winery offers a vineyard, tasting room and tours daily. Visitors can also enjoy the local art that adorns the walls of the winery’s art gallery.

waterfront dining

Take Mom to Dinner with a View

We all know the sun rises and sets with mom, so this year treat her to a view as spectacular as she is. The beaches and coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands are home to an incredible array of world-class dining experiences featuring both local specialties and global inspiration. Whether mom loves tastes of the Caribbean, signature Southern dishes, flavors of the Mediterranean or a fresh catch of the day, there are countless options to choose from. Our surplus of tranquil and scenic beaches creates seemingly endless opportunities for dinner and a coastal sunset. With multiple magnificent vantage points overlooking the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway, it is easy to find a special dinner spot with a view as perfect as she is.

Traverse the Beach Searching for Shells

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of sandy beaches create an abundant playground for exploring. Take mom back in time to simpler days when summers were spent searching for seashells in the sand. Sift through the sand for some of the popular shells found along our shores. From angelwings to olive shells, true tulips to sand dollars, there is always a hidden gem awaiting your discovery. These little treasures are sure to brighten up mom’s day for years to come and give her a piece of the beach to hold close to her heart all year long.

Trek to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

For a unique beachgoing experience, take mom to serene Bird Island for a stroll along Sunset Beach to visit the beloved Kindred Spirit Mailbox. For years the mailbox has been a must-visit spot for much-needed reflection. Visitors venture to the secluded mailbox to write their stories and share their love with the universe. Year after year people come by to add their letters, notes, thoughts, poems, prayers and wishes to the growing stack of journals found inside. This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a special spiritual experience and share your story with the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Treat Mom to One Unforgettable Beach Experience

NC's Brunswick Islands family vacationThe best way to give back to a beach-loving mom is to treat her to the ultimate beachgoing experience with an unforgettable getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our peaceful beaches, incredible culinary scene, rich history, exciting events and popular attractions make a vacation to our coastal oasis a sure way to put a smile on mom’s face. There is no shortage of ways to show mom how much you love her at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, so be sure to seas every opportunity to make May 13 a Mother’s Day to remember.

For more information and ways to make a memorable experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

 

Any Way You Cast It, Fishing Means Fun In The Brunswick Islands

Fishing NC's Brunswick Islands

Spring is upon us in NC’s Brunswick Islands. If you’re any kind of fisherman or woman, you know what that means. If you aren’t, one trip to the isles can make you one.

No 45-mile stretch of the Atlantic coast has more ways to get into the adventure of fishing than our barrier islands do. You can charter a boat, fish off one of our ocean piers, cast right off the beach or fish the marshes and creeks from your own boat or kayak. And the show begins early with some of the best fishing in April, May and June.

To help you get a taste of the action and to provide a few tips in advance, we’ve talked to a couple of the many knowledgeable captains on our coast. Here’s a sampling of what they told us.

Fishing NC's Brunswick Islands

Get Your Ducks, er Fish, In A Row Before You Go.

Capt. Brant McMullen of Ocean Isle Fishing Center advises interested fishing folk to give some thought to the kind of experience they want to have. “We’ve got two main styles, deep sea fishing and backwater fishing and they both can be a blast,” says Capt.  Brant. “Spring starts early with speckled trout, redfish and flounder in our extensive creeks and marshes.”

“Deep sea fishing runs all the way out to the Gulf Stream and everything in between. So, it’s really a function of time and money or a desire for a specific species of fish. Near-shore fishing stays within 20 miles of land. These are typically 4- or 6-hour trips and are popular with families. It’s great for catching your dinner and taking pictures.”

“Now, deep sea trips tend to be 10- or 12-hour whole day adventures. You get a lot of repeat customers so you can pick up some knowledge aboard. We’ve got mahi, tuna, wahoo running out there and you’ve got grouper and snapper for bottom fishing. The Gulf is always good, so we fish year-round down here.”

Fishing NC's Brunswick Islands

Try Inshore Fishing. It’s A Whole Different World.

Capt. Jerry Dilsaver is a confirmed kayak aficionado and fisherman. “We’re fortunate here in having the Cape Fear River, over a mile wide, the largest NC river that flows into the ocean. So all those fish in the river estuaries wind up in the 40+ miles of coastline down to the border. The huge marsh system makes it perfect for red and black drum, trout and flounder.”

“Flounder fishing picks up in May and July through August are some of our best months. For red and black drum, folks need to check the regs and limits on ncdmf.net. Another thing that’s great about inshore fishing is that you can do it on windy days.”

“Now with ocean fishing, you’ve got shallow water grouper starting in May along with black sea bass, grunts and porgies anywhere from 10 to 40 miles off the beach. The king mackerel start migrating up the beaches from further south in mid-April and May. In fact, we’ve had some of the biggest kings taken during that time. Out in the Gulf Stream you’ve got wahoo and blackfin tuna as early as March, dolphin in May and billfish if you’re really game for the action.”

All You Need Is The Desire.

What are you waiting for? Start booking your trip to NC’s Brunswick Islands and include an unforgettable fishing adventure. You’ll also discover our beaches have all the other family adventures you’re looking for. Get started by requesting our 2018 Vacation Guide now.

Visit NC Brunswick.com for your 2018 Vacation Guide and start booking your trip today.