Check Off Your Beach Bucket List in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Beach Bucket

A beach vacation in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers a chance for some rest and relaxation and also opportunities to create lifelong memories with loved ones.  Across the destination’s five islands, you’ll find all the activities that make for the best beach vacation memories, along with a few unexpected surprises.

Here are seven Brunswick Islands’ beach bucket list activities sure to make your vacation memorable for the whole family:

Build a Sandcastle

Sandcastle

Opportunities abound to try your hand at sandcastle artistry, or relaxing in the sun and strolling alongside the ocean. With 45 miles of idyllic beaches and six separate beach communities over five barrier islands, fun in the sun awaits travelers in need of a relaxing escape or an adventure-packed getaway.  Sandcastle building tip: create a good strong packed foundation for your sandcastle and be sure to keep your sand wet while building!

Get a Sweet Treat

Satisfy your sweet tooth and stop by one of the many locally-owned ice cream shops and creameries sprinkled throughout the destination. With unique flavors and quality ingredients, you’ll be in for a treat. Each shop offers something special, whether it’s homemade recipes, specialty cones, or a welcoming environment with rocking chairs to sit and enjoy some dessert.

Savor Local Seafood

Calabash seafood

Fulfill your craving for fresh seafood with famous Calabash-style cuisine in the town where it was created. Calabash, the “Seafood Capital of the World,” is home to several locally-owned restaurants serving up lightly-battered, perfectly prepared seafood. Numerous restaurants throughout the islands – many with outdoor waterfront dining – feature menus with fresh, locally-caught seafood and home-style sides.

Discover a Coastal Secret

Venture one mile down the coast on foot or by bike from the last beach access on Sunset Beach and take a serene journey to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, an unexpected sight among the dunes of Bird Island. Take a seat on a nearby bench and write down your innermost thoughts and dreams on one of the notebooks inside the mailbox, or read notes left by other visitors.

See an East Coast Phenomenon

With the beaches of the Brunswick Islands’ unique positioning toward the South, you can set up your chair on the beach to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and stay put in the same spot to catch a breath-taking sunset over the ocean. You can see this phenomenon for yourself beginning in the fall and continuing through the winter months.

Be on Turtle Watch

Witness the incredible sight of 250-pound Loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach, followed by their babies making their first journey from their nest to the sea. From May to August, you might spot the mother laying her eggs in the dunes, and from July to October the babies hatching and venturing toward the ocean.  Local Sea Turtle Protection Organization volunteers monitor the nests throughout the season to answer questions about the process and can tell you when nests may be ready to hatch. Also, several of the Sea Turtle Protection Organizations offer free “Turtle Talks” throughout the summer. See the events calendar for details.

Go Beyond the Beach

Paddleboarding

Looking to get your toes out of the sand and into a marsh or inland adventure? Explore the beautiful marshes, creeks and estuaries along the Intracoastal Waterway by paddle board, kayak and boat. Channel your adventurous side with some fishing or climb the Oak Island Lighthouse or Old Baldy for a stunning aerial view of the ocean and the marshland. Go ziplining over a swamp or explore nature preserves for carnivorous plants.

To begin planning your bucket list-worthy beach vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

10 Experiences for Your Brunswick Islands Bucket List

north Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers more than just gorgeous beaches, lovely towns and beautiful coastal scenery. Here is a bucket list of ten fun activities that all visitors should do during their stay.

1. Leave a note in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Standing slightly tilted in the shifting sand of undeveloped Bird Island and far down the beach from the nearest public access point, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox draws visitors who want to write their thoughts, prayers, dreams and wishes in the mailbox’s small notebooks. These words are then left there for the next kindred spirit to find and read.

2. Visit the old Sunset Beach Swing Bridge and MuseumIMG_1076

The old wooden Sunset Beach Swing Bridge spanned the Intracoastal Waterway between Sunset Beach and the mainland from 1958-2011 before it was decommissioned and a portion placed on the mainland. The Bridge Tender’s House now serves as a museum and contains artifacts from the a ship called the Vesta, which was set on fire and sunk during the Civil War after attempting to run a northern blockade.

3. Zip Line through a Swamp

Guests to the new Shallotte River Swamp Park & Outdoor Center can soar over the Shallotte River Swamp on one of the park’s zip lines or climb to the treetops on the Aerial Adventure challenge courses. Those who want to stay closer to the ground can set out on a swamp boat eco tour to see the local wildlife and help trap crawdads, fish, turtles and frogs and see where George Washington is believed to have crossed through the area in 1791. The park is set to open in June.

4. Fish oDSC_0167_OIB_Boy Fishing_LRff a Pier

Large fish are known to lurk around piers, and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has several piers perfect for reeling in the catch-of-the-day: Ocean Isle Pier, Oak Island Pier, Ocean Crest Pier, Holden Beach PierSunset Beach Pier and Southport Pier.

5. Climb the Oak Island Lighthouse

The Oak Island Lighthouse, built in 1958, is the newest lighthouse in North Carolina, and visitors must climb a series of ship ladders with 131 rungs to reach the top balcony instead of the traditional spiral staircase. Tours can be made by appointment.

6. Kayak on the Intracoastal Waterway

While the beauty of the beaches is the big draw, others prefer the mystery, serenity and solitude of the marshes of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The colorful marshes meander and curl, hiding secrets and treasures of the coast. A kayak journey through these quiet tributaries reveals birding, photography, fishing, star and moon gazing opportunities. Rent a kayak or put in your own on the Intracoastal Waterway and float along with the gentle current amidst the beautiful coastal ecosystem and deltas.

7. SUP or Skim

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a growing trend among beachgoers, who stand on top of a surfboard-shaped board and propel themselves through the water with a long-handled paddle.  Those who want to stay closer to shore can try their hand at skim boarding, which involves balancing on a thin wooden board thrown across the inch or so of water that climbs up the shore after a wave breaks.

8. Live like a Local

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers guests the feeling of small town beach life at its finest. Friendly people, quaint buildings and great food are sure to make visitors feel like theIMG_0028_fb_edited-1y have found their home away from home. Rent a beach house this summer on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Holden BeachOcean Isle Beach, or Bald Head Island, visit the local fish market for some local seafood and cook up your own authentic beach party meal just like a local would.

9. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have the rare distinction of running east-west as they parallel the shore. Beginning in late fall and ending early spring, this orientation means that you can sit on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset without having to move your beach chair.

10. Witness a Turtle Hatching

Hatchling There is probably no experience more unforgettable and powerful than watching baby sea turtles “boiling” out of the nest and racing to the water line. Sea turtle conservation is conducted across North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For example, Ocean Isle Beach’s Sea Turtle Protection Program cares for these gentle giants of the sea, telling their primitive story of mating, nesting, and hatching that has remained essentially unchanged for 200 million years. Headquartered at Museum of Coastal Carolina, the certified program swings into high gear during nesting and hatching season from May through October.Visit oibseaturtles.orgsunsetbeachturtles.org   hbturtlewatch.org,  caswellturtlewatch.org,   bhic.org/sea-turtle-protection-program, and oakislandnc.com/Departments/Parks-Recreation/Sea-Turtle-Program for more information.  View a video of a turtle hatching here.