Tour the Brunswick Islands by Land, Sea and Air

With five barrier islands, 45 miles of beaches and several charming coastal towns, there’s lots to explore when visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While self-guided tours are an excellent way to discover the area, let the local experts give you the inside scoop. Guided tours are available throughout the islands and seaside towns, whether you’re a history buff, film buff, nature lover or just enjoying learning more about your favorite vacation destination. Below are some tour options that are sure to help you impress friends and family with your Brunswick Islands knowledge.

On Land
Find a historic Southport tour for all visitors in this quaint and charming town along the Cape Fear River. Tours are led by foot, bike and tram to provide in-depth history and fascinating facts about the town with homes and other architecture dating back to the 1800s. Other landmarks that will captivate those looking to learning about the past include the Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and the Old Yacht Basin, a popular movie filming location. If you’re looking for a thrill, be sure to check out the lantern-led Ghost Walk Tour to delve into the legends and lore of Southport. Around the holidays, you can also sign up for a home tour to see the beautiful, festive decorations for the winter season.

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During the summer, the Bird Island Preservation Society offers a guided walking tour of Bird Island each Wednesday. Learn about the coastal ecosystem of this beautiful undeveloped 1200 acre nature preserve during the 1 1/2 to 2 hour tour.

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Up in the Clouds
For a boost of adrenaline, take your tour to the skies with helicopter and biplane tours. Ocean Isle Beach Helicopter Tours and High Tide Helicopters offer incredible aerial tours of the Brunswick Islands. You can even sign up for a Discovery Flight with Hide Tide Helicopters where you can take a pilot lesson with their professional flight instructors. For a scenic flight for two, take an open cockpit biplane ride with Suncoast Aviation, or design a custom tour with Brunswick Air. Whether soaring over the waves or taking in the vibrant marshland, helicopter and biplane tours take your visit to a new level.

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On the Water
See the beauty of the Brunswick Islands by water with several types of boat tours. Local outfitters will guide you through the waterways on kayaks or paddleboards, a great opportunity for wildlife spotting along the Intracoastal Waterway or the many area creeks and rivers. Bring your camera for a sail or motor boat tour where you can spot dolphins, enjoy a sunset cruise and see the spectacular views that are unique to being on the water. To get up-close with another type of ecosystem, Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach offers swamp boat eco-tours to give guests a “frog’s-eye view” of the park’s cypress swamp.

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To learn more about planning your Brunswick Islands vacation and setting up a tour during your trip, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/attractions.

Choosing the Perfect Accommodations for your Brunswick Islands Vacation

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, you don’t have to compromise when it comes to choosing your vacation accommodations. The islands and coastal communities are full of lodging options for every group size and itinerary. Read on to learn more about the benefits of every type of accommodations the Brunswick Islands have to offer and how to find your perfect “home away from home.” You can also visit www.ncbrunswick.com/accommodations for a full listing of the area’s accommodations.

Vacation Rental Homes

Vacationing families who want to be near or on the beach can find the perfect fit for their stay with one of the vacation rentals throughout the Brunswick Islands. Beach vacation rental homes often become a tradition for families, and they return to the same house year after year. Along with easy access to the beach, vacation rentals offer the comforts of home with full kitchens, and gathering space for the entire family to spend time together and relax. Choose from cozy condos and beach cottages to grand oceanfront homes able to accommodate a large family reunion. Vacation rental homes along the Intracoastal Waterway or island canals are also a great option for visitors with boats looking for direct boating access to the water.

If you’re new to the concept of renting a beach house, check out our video page for rental experience videos in which families share why they love renting a beach house for their family’s vacation.

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Hotels and Inns

Don’t need the space provided by a vacation home rental or looking for traditional hotel services? The Brunswick Islands offer a variety of hotels and inns to choose from. Locally-owned inns on the islands offer an intimate experience with an array of amenities, all close to the beach. National brand hotels can be found off the islands, making for an easy drive to sites and attractions beyond the beach. Many hotels and inns feature pools, hot breakfasts, bikes and fitness centers adding even more relaxation to your vacation.

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Golf Resorts

Visitors looking to vacation beyond the beach have two golf resorts to choose from in the Brunswick Islands – Sea Trail Resort and Brunswick Plantation & Golf Resort. Split your days between golf, the on-site pools and the nearby beach, maximizing your vacation fun! Golf resorts offer spacious accommodations (one to three-bedroom villas), many with kitchens, as well as on-property amenities like fitness and activity centers, pro shops and restaurants. 

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Bed and Breakfasts

For history mixed with southern hospitality, stay at one of the B&Bs in scenic Southport, many dating back to the 1800s. These accommodations offer a unique and romantic experience for couples with charming rooms, several furnished with antiques, and amenities such as delicious breakfasts, and bikes to explore the town and waterfront at your leisure! Southport is an idyllic waterside town and a favorite walking area for many, with Victorian-style homes and live oak trees making for a picturesque stroll. Historic walking and tram tours are also available for those wanting to learn more about the area’s past.

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To begin planning your vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com. You can also view current Lodging Specials and Packages at www.ncbrunswick.com/specials.

Tee Up Your Golf Getaway At North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ Golf Resorts

Take advantage of the mild year-round weather and plan your golf retreat when the time is right for you. In addition to more than 30 championship courses, all a quick drive away from 45 miles of beautiful beaches, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features two golf resorts to satisfy both the golfer and non-golfer, making for a fun and relaxing multi-day getaway.

Sea Trail Resort

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Located in Sunset Beach just minutes from the surf, Sea Trail Resort offers 2,000 acres of pristine landscape with three world-class golf courses. Designed by Rees Jones, Dan Maples and Willard Byrd, the courses are made for golfers of all levels and feature added amenities, such as two clubhouses with full-service golf shops and dining options. To fine-tune your skills, be sure to visit the putting greens, driving range and PGA-sanctioned Golf Learning Center.

*Sea Trail hosts the Mel Sole Golf School, which runs year-round with options for one- to three-day programs and includes video analysis.

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Other members of the group can enjoy their visit off the course with indoor and outdoor pools (seasonally) and the Sea Trail Village Activity Center. Visitors can access the Activity Center for local outings to explore the unique coastal communities with eco-tours, kayaking, deep sea fishing and more, adding to the advantages of staying at a golf resort. Sea Trail also boasts 40,000 square feet of event space for meetings and conferences.

*Don’t miss yoga at the Village Activity Center, with several classes for all levels of yogis.

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Overnight guests can choose from nearly 200 fully-equipped, condo-style accommodations, from Deluxe Mini Suites to Deluxe Three-Bedroom Villas, with full kitchens or kitchenettes, and living and dining areas. Complete the resort experience with a visit to the two on-site restaurants.

*Special rates on long term rentals are available for stays longer than 30 days.

Brunswick Plantation & Golf Resort

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A 1,700-acre, plantation-style resort, Brunswick Plantation & Golf Resort is a full-service property in Calabash, N.C. that is perfect for both family vacations and golf escapes with three newly improved courses. Golfers can also access the full pro shop, as well as golf packages and daily green fee specials.

*Customizable golf packages are available where you can play your choice of more than 30 courses throughout your stay in the Brunswick Islands.

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Beyond the golf course, guests get a full resort getaway with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, fitness center, on-site restaurant, along with lodging with large decks and kitchens for a comfortable stay, all without leaving the property. For those wanting to venture off-property in the picturesque coastal region during their stay, the area is prime for active outdoor activities, shopping or just relaxing on the beach.

*Less than 10 miles from the Sunset Beach coast, a beach day is a quick drive away.

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Villa options include 1- and 2-bedroom, and efficiency condos. The spacious accommodations range up to 1,200 square feet for two bedrooms with scenic views of the greens.

*Pet friendly units are available for an additional fee so you can bring the whole family!

To begin planning your golf getaway at one of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ golf resorts, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/Golf_Trips.

Discover the Museums of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Beyond the beautiful beach scenery, the Brunswick Islands hold a rich history, which guests can experience with a visit to the area’s museums. With history dating as far back as the colonial times and tales of pirates, visitors can explore the fascinating, in-depth past of the islands and coastal communities. Not only does the Brunswick Islands offer a great place for visitors to enjoy the beaches and sunshine, but a trip to coast can also be educational! Be sure to add these museums to your Brunswick Islands itinerary:

Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center:

Fort Johnston in Southport was built by the British in 1748. The fort was used to protect the region from the Spanish and French attacks during King George’s War. It served as the oldest active-duty fort in the United States after 250 years of federal service and was conveyed to the city of Southport in 2006. Today, visitors can explore the museum with an official tour guide or take a self-guided tour. Don’t miss the Safe Haven exhibit with memorabilia from when the movie was filmed in Southport. fort-johnston

Ingram Planetarium:

Visitors looking for more of an out-of-this-world museum experience can check out the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. This state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital protection and surround-sound system. The theater shows educational programs about space exploration and astronomy, along with laser music shows. Explore the interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall for fun, hands-on learning. dsc_9509_sunset-beach_planitarium_lr

Museum of Coastal Carolina:

The Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach is North Carolina’s only natural history museum located on a barrier island. The museum showcases the unique coastal ecosystem of the Brunswick Islands and features the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium, collections of sea shells, shark jaws, wildlife dioramas and a Touch Tank with live sea stars, sea urchins and other animals. Young explorers will also love digging in the fossil pit for shark teeth. dsc_0010_oib_touch-tank_wm

North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport:

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport tells the story of the Cape Fear region and the people of its past and present. Exhibits provide a detailed history of pirates, shipwrecks, and the area’s extensive nautical history. The museum offers educational programs for both children and adults, making it enjoyable for all ages.mmsign

Old Brunswick County Jail Museum:

The Old Brunswick County Jail, built in 1904, has been maintained to keep its original form and serves as a museum open to the public. The two-story jail, which was used until 1971 before a new jail was constructed, has a runabout and two cells, which visitors can view on guided or self-guided tours. Visitors can also take a glimpse of the graffiti drawn by prisoners on the second floor. img_0523

Sunset Beach Swing Bridge & Museum:

The historic Sunset Beach swing bridge and tender house that linked the island to the mainland from 1958-2011, now rests in an area shaded by oak trees to serve as a museum and public gathering place. Locals thought that they would be saying goodbye to the swing bridge, but volunteers and the Old Bridge Preservative Society saved it from demolition. The tender house is now open to visitors and displays artifacts from the Blockade Runner Vesta, which ran aground on Sunset Beach. old-sb-bridge-horizontal-2

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site:

Brunswick Town was a pre-Revolutionary port located on the Cape Fear River that was destroyed by British Troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. Fort Anderson was constructed during the Civil War at the same site as the old village to defend the river and north toward Wilmington. What remains of Brunswick Town and the fort is now one of North Carolina’s historic sites and a working archaeological site. Visitors can view displays and audiovisuals about its history, as well as explore outdoor trails along the ruins of the fort.img_5863_tonemapped

Smith Island Museum of History:

Smith Island Museum of History is located on the grounds of Old Baldy Lighthouse on Bald Head Island and is a replica of an 1850s lighthouse keeper’s cottage.img_3467

When planning your visit to the museums in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, be sure to check the hours, which vary by season. To learn more, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/heritage_museums.

Five Reasons to “Fall” for the Brunswick Islands

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has something for everyone this fall. Throughout the season, enjoy the many activities and mild weather with peaceful beaches and seasonal events. Rest up before the holidays and relax with these five reasons to “fall” for the Brunswick Islands!

Soak Up Some Sun

IMG_0148During fall in the Brunswick Islands, you’ll enjoy temperatures in the 70s throughout October and upper 60s in November with water temperatures at an average of 77 degrees in October and 70 degrees in November. You don’t have to say goodbye to beach time just because it’s fall – the Brunswick Islands’ mild temperatures make it a perfect time for a coastal getaway.

Experience a Weather Wonder

IMG_0748 surf fishing at sunset Caswell BeachFall through early spring, beach-goers can take in both sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, thanks to the Brunswick Islands’ unique south-facing beaches and the angle of the sun this time of year. Enjoy this bucket list activity, all without moving your beach chair!

More Beach for your Blanket

One of the many perks of the Brunswick Islands during the fall is the peaceful beaches. With the kids back to school and holiday prep underway, this is the perfect time to get away. Explore the piers, beaches and other attractions with spectacular deals on lodging! Throughout fall, visitors will see rates on rental homes (even beachfront!) continue to decrease, making for an even more affordable stay.

Celebrate the Season

There are plenty of special events happening in the Brunswick Islands this fall for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

For some spooky fun, come out to the Holden Beach Pavilion on October 21 for Boo at the Beach. The Halloween Festivities include booths with carnival games and a costume contest!

IMG_0168 event collectionOctober 29 and 30 marks the North Carolina Festival by the Sea. The free, 2-day event kicks off with a parade down the Holden Beach causeway. Entertainment for kids includes face painting, a costume contest, as well as rides and amusements. There will also be live music and food.

To learn more about upcoming events in the Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.

Rest Up Before the Holidays

IMG_7633With the hectic holiday season just around the corner, visitors can take one last moment of peace on the beach in the Brunswick Islands. With ideal weather, no crowds, great lodging deals and plenty of entertainment, fall is the perfect time for a pre-holiday getaway!

For more information about booking your fall getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.