Get Active During Your Beach Getaway To North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

kayaking in Brunswick Islands

Get Active Along the Coast at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Who says beach getaways are just for lounging? Sun, sand and scenic ocean views are undoubtedly a well-deserved treat, but those looking for a little adventure on their next vacation will find it in no short supply at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While the Brunswick Islands offer 45 miles of scenic, sandy beaches just beckoning for you to plant a plush towel or beach chair, there are plenty of exciting ways to get up and get active on your next vacation.

Decompress and Destress

Treat yourself by treating your body with a beachside yoga session. Feel the tension and stress from home slowly slip away with every move and stretch. Many visitors come to the Brunswick Islands looking for some quality relaxation, and there are few activities better suited to test your fitness in a tranquil setting than a yoga session along one of our pristine beaches. Area instructors offer classes all summer long to ease your stress and keep you toned. Be sure to see if any classes are scheduled for when you are in town!

SUP NC's Brunswick Islands

Check Out What’s SUP

Check out “what’s SUP” during your stay in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The smooth waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks and island canals are perfect for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Stop by one of the many local outfitters to rent a board and take to the peaceful waters for a breathtaking and active aquatic adventure. Visitors can even take their beachside yoga experience up a notch with a SUP yoga class. Carolina School of Surf offers SUP yoga classes for all skill levels from beginner to seasoned SUP pros.

Tour by Water

There are countless ways to get out and explore the beautiful North Carolina scenery and vibrant communities of the Brunswick Islands. Active beachgoers can take to the water to tour their coastal home away from home. With miles of salt mash creek and rivers as well as the Intercoastal Waterway, there are plenty of picturesque paths to explore. Individual kayak rentals and guided tours are available to give visitors the equipment and expertise they need to enjoy a fun-filled day on the water. From nature watching to exploring and sunsets to stargazing, guided tours are available to help visitors capture the best of the Brunswick Islands.

Old Baldy and Oak Island Lighthouse

Take a Climb  

For many, lighthouses evoke images of serene and magical coastal settings. While maritime magic and serenity perfectly describe the Brunswick Island lighthouses, journeys to the top are not as whimsical. To reach the top of Old Baldy, North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse located on Bald Head Island, visitors must climb 108 steps but at the top one is rewarded with stunning views of the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean. Across the way on Caswell Beach is the 153-foot Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in the state. The top of the 15-story lighthouse can only be reached through a series of ship’s ladders. While many find the climb a challenge, visitors agree that the spectacular views are worth every step.

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

Summer is Sea Turtle Time in the Brunswick Islands

sea turtle Brunswick Islands

For many people the word “summer” evokes mental images of sandy beaches, gentle waves, glowing sunshine, pearly white sea shells and freshly caught seafood. While these classic coastal elements are key parts of a summer escape to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, locals and visitors alike know that the 45 miles of picturesque, uncrowded beaches bring in more than happy beachgoers each summer. For centuries, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have been home to loggerhead sea turtles. These spectacular creatures travel great distances to lay their eggs along the shore from May to August, with hatchings happening July through October. Many visitors book their stays to have front row seats to this bit of maritime magic, making summertime sea turtle time in the Brunswick Islands. With so many ways to take part in the action, it is easy to see why!

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Turtle loving travelers can venture to Ocean Isle Beach for the Barrier Island Gallery at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. The museum shares The Legend of the Loggerhead with an exhibit featuring a sand dune model complete with mother loggerhead turtle laying a nest and hatchlings emerging from the nest. Visitors can walk through the dune to check out interior views of the nest and watch a video about the lifecycle of Ocean Isle Beach’s loggerhead turtles. With one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast, the Museum of Coastal Carolina also gives guests an opportunity to see life-size loggerhead turtles and other native wildlife displayed.

sea turtle exhibit

Turtle Talks

The Brunswick Islands has sea turtle protection organizations in Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free weekly family-friendly seminars, designed to share important information about loggerhead sea turtle protection efforts. These “Turtle Talks” are held in Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island late spring through summer. With different locations and times throughout the summer season, there are plenty of opportunities to entertain and educate your family about these magnificent creatures during your stay in the Brunswick Islands.  Visit our calendar of events for details.

Turtle Talks – Holden Beach

Every Wednesday, June-August, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Sunset Beach

Every Sunday, June 10-August 26, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Ocean Isle Beach

Every Monday, May 28-September 3, 3:30 p.m.

Every Tuesday, May 29-August 28, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Oak Island

Every Tuesday, June-August, 6:00 p.m.

baby sea turtles

Summer Internships

The Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization offers several week-long summer internships for middle and high school travelers ages 13-18. During this interactive experience, interns and their parents assist in monitoring sea turtle nests, collecting and logging sea turtle activity and by supporting visitor and resident awareness initiatives. Interested families can apply online. Insider tip: be aware of application deadlines to secure your spot on the sea turtle conservation team.

sea turtle nest

Visitor Tips for Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea turtles are a special part of the summer experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While sea turtle sightings are exciting, we all must do our part to support the loggerhead turtles’ journey and keep them returning to our beaches for the next 100 years. Check out our tips to creating a better beach environment for the sea turtles:

  1. Do not disturb a sea turtle as it makes its way to or from the ocean.
  2. Know how to spot a sea turtle nest and do not disturb. Nests will typically be numbered and marked by surrounding fencing.
  3. Lights may confuse the sea turtles, so avoid shining lights at the turtles and turn off all lights near the beach, including outdoor lighting.
  4. Be a responsible beachgoer and pick up all litter, fill in beach holes and remove your beach equipment.
  5. Avoid the use of flash photography in capturing a sea turtle sighting.
  6. Do not ever pick up a sea turtle.

For more information on ways to stay and how to plan a terrific turtle experience 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.

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.

Spring Birding in NC’s Brunswick Islands

plovers - birding

The beginning of spring is just days away and with it’s promise of warmer weather, spring also means the beginning of migration and nesting seasons for birds. The five barrier islands that make up NC’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island- encompass a large network of bird sanctuaries.  Situated along the coast of Southeastern North Carolina, the Brunswick Islands’ varied ecosystems make it a natural haven for hundreds of species of birds. In fact, there have been more than 330 species of birds spotted in Brunswick County.  Brunswick County is also home to eight of the birding sites along the North Carolina Birding Trail!

white ibis

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has more than 45 miles of unspoiled shoreline, pristine estuaries, and salt marshes that sustain a wide variety of wading birds and shorebirds during the spring nesting season.  Battery Island, located in the Cape Fear River across from the Southport waterfront, alone is home to nearly 10 percent of the North American population of White Ibis. White Ibis is one of the most visible and prolific species with their bright white plumage that contrasts the colors in the sky. In 2012, there were more than 5,000 documented nesting pairs of this species on the six-acre island. Battery Island is a bird sanctuary protected by the National Audubon Society.

Black Skimmers - birdingIn addition to White Ibis, other shore birds and wading birds visitors to the Brunswick Islands are likely to encounter include several species of terns and gulls, American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, Plovers, Egrets, and Herons. Away from the shore, in nature preserves such as the Green Swamp PreserveEv-Henwood Nature Preserve, and Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve, visitors may see a variety of warblers and sparrows as well as Brown-headed Nuthatches, Summer Tanagers, and Indigo Buntings.

More on birding and bird walks in the Brunswick Islands with Greg Loomis with Wild Bird & Garden in Southport:

We spoke with local bird enthusiast, Greg Loomis with Wild Bird & Garden in Southport about bird walks, birding in the area, and some of his favorite bird spots. His answers are shared below.

How can a visitor to Brunswick Islands get involved in birding?

“Wild Bird & Garden hosts free monthly bird walks that are open to residents and visitors. These bird walks are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m. Our group walks down to the waterfront of the Southport Riverwalk & Pier. The people who participate on these walks are so knowledgeable and passionate about birding, some can even identity the type of bird by their song alone.”

What species of birds can participants on these walks expect to see?

“We see a lot of different birds on these walks including White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Seaside Sparrow, Painted Bunting, Carolina Chickadees and more.”

What is the rarest bird that you have encountered on a bird walk in the area?

“I once saw a painted bunting in Southport!” (For those who don’t know, painted buntings are one of the most spectacularly colored and visually impressive birds in the United States. Males can be easily identified by their blue head, green back, and red rump and belly. )

Are there any suggested materials or equipment participants should bring on the bird walks?

“We suggest that guests bring a pair of binoculars, but visitors or residents are able to rent them from Wild Bird & Garden if they don’t bring a pair with them.”

To learn more about birding in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/