Find Some of the Best Beaches in the World in NC’s Brunswick Islands

Sunset Beach NC

The heart and soul of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is its 45 miles of beautiful, uncrowded beaches. Each beach – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, and Bald Head Island is famous for its distinct offerings suited to delight every member of the family. Your favorite beaches, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, are gracing the ranks of “Best Beaches” lists all over the world! Five barrier islands, immense natural beauty, a delicious culinary scene, an abundance of outdoor recreation and easy accessibility are just a few reasons why the Brunswick Islands are so loved by beach goers everywhere.

Check out just a few of NC’s Brunswick Islands’ recent accolades:

9 Vacation-Worthy American Islands- Men’s Journal

Men’s Journal agrees that you don’t have to leave the country to take an unforgettable island vacation, and the editors named the Brunswick Islands a must for domestic travel.

“The chain of five islands offers 45 miles of beaches, along with the Intracoastal Waterway and scenic marshland in view of wildlife and pristine natural local ecosystems, best viewed by kayak or paddleboard.” We couldn’t agree more; visitors to the Brunswick Islands will revel at the abundant kayaking, surfing, and paddle boarding offerings in the area.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

21 Best Beaches in The World- National Geographic

National Geographic is one of the nations most trusted travel publications, and they know that NC’s Brunswick Islands’ beauty is world class. Sunset Beach was recognized as one of the world’s best beaches. The editors loved the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and its unique story.

Just a short one-mile walk from the last Sunset Beach access point and tucked away in the sand dunes, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox invites those who make the journey to share their innermost thoughts, prayers, wishes and dreams with the universe.

Ocean Isle Beach NC's Brunswick Islands

The South’s Best Tiny Town 2018- Southern Living

 Southern Living recently named Ocean Isle Beach as the best tiny town in the South! Its easy to see why with miles of unspoiled beaches, tons of family friendly activities and delicious local dining.

A writer with Southern Living remarked that in Ocean Isle Beach, “there remains the promise of something different that lies just on the other side of the waterway, a timeless something that begs you to simply focus on that large churning body of water that hugs the East Coast and the wide, white strand you had once taken for granted.” She remarks that in the area, “you breathe a little different and pay closer attention to the natural world.”

Caswell Beach Oak Island Lighthouse

46 Best Beach Towns in America- Good Housekeeping

The national taste-maker, Good Housekeeping named Caswell Beach as one of the best beach towns in America!

In addition to being home to the last lighthouse built in North Carolina, Oak Island Lighthouse, Good Housekeeping states that, “golf courses and quiet beaches lend a peaceful air to this town, located in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.”

Holden Beach NC

13 Offbeat Beach Towns You Need to Visit- Red Tricycle

As an expert in family travel destinations, the national website Red Tricycle loved Holden Beach’s small-town charm and array of activities to keep families busy! The editors featured Holden Beach as one of “13 Offbeat Beach Towns You Need to Visit.”

Red Tricycle suggests visitors “can take the kids crabbing and fishing, and explore the island by foot, by bike, or by kayak or canoe excursion along the Intracoastal Waterway. And, there’s plenty of wildlife to spot: dolphins swimming offshore, endangered (and protected) loggerhead turtles making their journey from the nest to the ocean, and ghost crabs that make their way along the beach at night.”

Oak Island

Best Beaches in North Carolina- Southern Living

With 10 miles of uncrowded beaches, locally owned ice cream shops, mini golf and an authentic beach town feel, it’s easy to see why Southern Living named Oak Island one of the best beaches in North Carolina.

Ideal for laid back loungers and nostalgic nomads, Southern Living stated that Oak Island, “is the perfect place for a relaxing, old-fashioned beach trip that’s no-fuss and fancy free.”

Bald Head Island, NC's Brunswick Islands

10 Best Car-Free Island Getaways- Coastal Living

Coastal Living named Bald Head Island one of the “Best Car-Free Island Getaways.” Its easy to see why Bald Head received such a great accolade, as its reachable only by ferry or private boat!

Coastal Living suggests riding “a golf cart or bike to the Old Baldy Lighthouse, the Maritime Market, and the pool and boardwalk,” is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the island and explore with your loved ones.

Residents and visitors who return year after year have long-known that Brunswick Islands’ beaches are some of the best! We invite you to come and explore our barrier islands and find your perfect best beach!

To learn more about the beaches 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/

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/

 

How to Hold a Family Reunion at the Beach

Brunswick Islands

It’s never too early to start planning a family reunion your loved ones will remember for years to come. With the area’s central Mid-Atlantic location, plenty of affordable accommodations, more than 45 miles of beautiful beaches, endless outdoor activities, and fairways as far as the eye can see, it is easy to see why hundreds of families host their annual reunion at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands each year. There is no better place to get the family together than at the beach, and the Brunswick Islands has offerings suited to every member of the family.

We spoke with Cheryl Summer, an Ohioan who has been visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for more than 35 years. Cheryl originally started visiting the area with a few couples, and it has now morphed into a 20-person, two-house annual reunion with family and friends traveling from all over the country.

Check out Cheryl’s six tips on making the most of a family reunion, from planning to feeding a crowd:

  1. Find Accommodations That Can Hold Your Entire Family:

The Brunswick Islands has plenty of accommodations and meeting space that can accommodate families of all sizes! One of the most popular accommodations is a vacation rental home. Cheryl recommends booking one or more large houses, with spacious, equipped kitchens, lots of bathrooms, laundry facilities and plenty of areas to gather.

Vacation Beach house

  1. Plan Well in Advance:

Cheryl suggests that families start preparation for each beach reunion at least one year in advance. “We reserve the same two houses for two weeks every September,” she says. “We have families that stay for various lengths of time, and attendees from the current year get first pick on dates for next year’s reunion.”

  1. Organize and Delegate Shopping and Meals:

Feeding the entire family three times a day is no small feat! Cheryl suggests assigning each family a night to provide dinner. “They buy and prepare the main course, dessert and beverages,” says Sumner. Through the years, it’s developed into a friendly competition as each group tries to outdo the other. To save on labor, they use paper plates and cups.  “We don’t come on vacation to do dishes,” she laughs.

For the other meals and staples, Cheryl suggests that every person contribute $30 to the “kitty.”  At the beginning of the trip, Cheryl and her two organizing friends, Rosie and Debbie, make a grocery store run to purchase breakfast and lunch items, paper towels, zip bags, ice and other kitchen items.

“We designate one house for breakfast and lunch,” says Sumner, “and the other for dinner.” This provides the dinner crew a clear kitchen and enough prep time. “But both refrigerators have drinks, snacks and condiments for everyone,” says Sumner.

  1. Themes and Games Make It More Fun:

Perhaps the most fun and memorable part of each reunion is the changing theme. “We have a different theme each year. Once it was Christmas in July, another it was pirates, we vote on the next year’s theme at the end of the reunion” says Sumner.

Tuesday is designated as party night, with everything revolving around the theme, from costumes, décor, quizzes, music and activities. “The year of the pirate we created a treasure hunt throughout the house and onto the beach,” says Sumner. “Participants searched the house for clues, and followed a map onto the sand, where we had placed nine different ‘Xs’ to mark potential treasure.” These fun themed activities bring the family together in a fun and exciting way!

  1. Choose a Location with Many Activities:

Cheryl recommends that families pick a beach that’s not too busy and crowded, such as those in this southernmost corner of North Carolina. Yet the location should have activities for each age group. While each of the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island – has its own character and charm, they all offer plenty of activities for every age and interest. On the islands and the mainland are mouthwatering dining, museums and shops, boating, kayaking, fishing and championship golf, and riveting maritime and military history.

  1. Book Ahead:

While North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a well-loved, best-kept secret, it’s best to book a vacation beach rental, especially very large or oceanfront homes, a year ahead or at least by January if visiting from May – August, as many families like Cheryl’s come back year after year to build upon what they call their best vacation memories ever.

Come see why the Brunswick Islands brings families together! To plan your family reunion in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to learn more, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

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

 

Find Golf for all Skill Levels in NC’s Brunswick Islands Including Beginning and Junior Golfers

Compass Pointe Golf Course

Known as “North Carolina’s Golf Coast”, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features more than 30 top golf courses built to accommodate players of all skill levels including new golfers and junior golfers.  Many of the courses offer private and group lessons from golf professionals who work with every aspect of your swing to improve power, accuracy and consistency. The experience of learning to golf or refining your game in the Brunswick Islands is enhanced by scenic coastal views and more than 45 miles of beach.

Here’s just a few of the courses new golfers may want to include in their Brunswick Islands vacation:

Compass Pointe Golf Club

Located in Leland, Compass Pointe Golf Club is the newest 18 hole course in North Carolina. The Rick Robbins designed course features wide fairways, large Champion Bermuda greens and scenic native Carolina landscaping which creates an exceptional golf experience for players of all skill levels. Multiple sets of tees are offered including a set of “Family Tees” that are great for juniors, older players and new players. Golf instruction for individuals, groups, junior clinics and junior summer golf camps are available. The facility includes a complete short-game area  with an 18-hole putting course, chipping green, sand play green, regular putting green and a large practice range.

Carolina National Golf Club

Located in the Brunswick Islands’ mainland, Carolina National Golf Club is a Fred Couples signature golf facility with new Champion Bermuda greens. It features 27 holes arranged in three nines; Egret, Heron and Ibis, named after the birds that inhabit the Audubon Certified Sanctuary Golf Course. Carolina National Golf Club offers single, multiple or weekly lessons for golfers looking to enhance their game. Carolina National is also home to the Cheryl Brankel Golf Academy that features a 14,000 sq. ft. putting and chipping green, and a 320-yard driving range with its own tee box.

Sea Trail Golf Resort

Located in Sunset Beach, Sea Trail Golf Resort features three 18 hole courses designed by some of the game’s greatest architects – Dan Maples, Rees Jones, and Willard Byrd.  Private lessons are offered by in-house golf professionals providing special golf instruction tailored to all skill levels.  Sea Trail Resort is also home to the Mel Sole Golf School, a program that has been ranked among the “Top 25 USA Golf Schools” since 1999 by Golf Magazine.  Instruction is available year round and includes one- to three-day programs. Sea Trail’s practice facility offers a driving range, practice green for chipping, pitching and bunker practice, and two putting greens.

Oak Island Par Three at South Harbor

Located in Oak Island, Oak Island Par 3 at South Harbour is a public par-3 course offering an excellent setting for those new to the game, juniors, as well as golfers of any skill level. Scenic views and a stunning coastal landscape make learning to golf at the course an enjoyable and exciting experience. This 18 hole par-3 course provides a calm and easy setting for beginners to get the feel of the game and if you enjoy walking that option is available.  No clubs? That’s not a problem as rental clubs are available on site. Visitors can bring their family and friends out for a day of fun at the Oak Island course!

To learn more about the golf offerings 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/

Upcoming Spring Events & Festivals in NC’s Brunswick Islands

Oak Island Lighthouse Run

Think past the chilly winter months and bulky sweaters forward to basking in the sun in your new bathing suit! Get rid of the winter blues by planning a picturesque coastal getaway this Spring to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Springtime in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands means tons of local events to entertain the whole family. The views are breathtaking, the food is exquisite, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Here’s just a taste of everything North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has to offer this spring:

Spring Art Show

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/spring-art-show-southport-nc

When: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  February 27 – March 18

Where: Franklin Square Gallery, Southport

Contact: 910-457-5450

Southport’s Franklin Square Gallery hosts the annual spring art show featuring paintings, pottery, sculptures, and handmade jewelry by both members of the gallery and local guest artists. The historic building is located near the live oak trees behind Franklin Square Park three blocks from Southport’s waterfront at 130 E. West Street. Over 100 artists will be displaying their work during the exhibit and an award ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 3rd from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. This ongoing event is free and open to all ages.

First Friday Gallery Walks

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/first-friday-gallery-walk-southport-nc-mar

When: Every first Friday of the month, ongoing

Where: Downtown Southport

Contact: 910-457-1129

Art enthusiasts of all ages are invited to attend this free event hosted by Franklin Square Gallery, The Ricky Evans Gallery, Lantana’s Gallery, Silver Coast Winery and Tasting Room Gallery to view the beautiful pieces created by some of North Carolina’s finest artists. Wine and appetizers will be served at each of these locations.

Badwater Cape Fear – Ultra Marathon Race

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/badwater-cape-fear-bald-head-island-nc

When: March 16, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – March 18, 2018 – 10:00 a.m.

Where: Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island

Contact: 910-477-3122

“The world’s toughest foot race” features a 12-mile warm-up on the peaceful, car-free roads of Bald Head Island and is followed by a 19 or 39 mile run through the beautiful and serene beaches that run between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher. Entry pricing is $195 for the 32-mile race and $225 for 51.4 mile race.

Southport Spring Festival

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/southport-spring-festival-nc

When: March 30-31, 2018

Where: Franklin Square Park, Southport

Contact: 910-279-4616 or 910-253-0731

Celebrate Easter weekend with friends and family at one of Southport’s biggest traditions for more than 30 years. Enjoy the 160 vendors of handcrafted home décor, jewelry, goodies and more. It’s not a party unless there is live entertainment for everyone to enjoy! Take walks around the historic waterfront and eat at one of the many restaurants. Admission is free to all.

Oak Island Lighthouse Run/Walk

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/oak-island-lighthouse-run-walk-oak-island-nc

When: April 20-21, 2018

Where: Middleton Park, Oak Island

Contact: 910-457-6964

Enjoy the views of North Carolina Coast’s salt marshes, beautiful beaches, foot bridges, and have a lighthouse as your cheerleader as you run or walk this years 5k, 10k and 1-mile run. The festivities start on Friday the 20th from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The next day after the run enjoy the After Run Celebration at Middleton Park extension. Participants will receive drink tokens and be eligible for cash prizes, while the half marathon runners will receive a finisher award. The price of admission ranges from $25-$75 depending on the race.

Days at the Dock Festival

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/days-at-the-dock-holden-beach-nc

When: April 28-29, 2018

Where: Jordan Blvd- Under Holden Beach Bridge, Holden Beach, NC 28462

Contact: 910-523-8523

Appreciate the finest arts and craft vendors, eat the delicious foods around the festival or go listen to some awesome bands. Don’t forget to watch the infamous Bopple Race, where you buy “Bopples” from the festival, drop them from the Holden Beach bridge and let the current push them towards the finish line. If your “Bopple” wins or comes in second, then you win a prize! Curious to find out what a “Bopple” is? You’ll have to come to Days at the Dock Festival to find out! With free admission and free parking, come out with your family and partake in this exciting tradition!

Howl at The Moon

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/howl-at-the-moon-bald-head-island-nc-april-29-2018

When: April 29, 2018

Where: East Beach Access 39, Bald Head Island, NC 28461

Come grab a spot on the beach and enjoy the largest beach party every month. Watch the full moon rise and “howl!” around a bonfire. Bring food and drinks to share while Maritime Market provides soup and appetizers. After the moon rises head to Mojo’s for “Moonrise to Midnight.” Admission is free to all.

To learn more about these spring events and others 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/