Welcome to Calabash: “Seafood Capital of the World”

Seafood Capital

“Good Night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”

 

Fans of classic television and radio will remember star Jimmy Durante and this infamous phrase, but not many know its connection to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Legend has it that while visiting Calabash, Durante was feeling a bit under the weather. A local restaurateur offered to fix him something to make him feel better. When she did, he told her he’d make her famous, and from that day forward, he closed each and every show with this tribute!

Fast forward to today and Mr. Durante would be right at home –  still delighted to find delectable shrimp, clams, fish and oysters coated in a light batter, quickly fried to lock in freshness and served up in very generous portions!  This is dining Calabash-style, and the reason the town has earned the title of “Seafood Capital of the World!”  Restaurants from coast to coast have tried to replicate the style, but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying it in its home town of Calabash.

Calabash seafood

As you drive down to the docks that line the Calabash River, restaurant after restaurant beckons – family-owned and each holding their secret recipes tight! Enjoy a bucket of oysters, platter of Calabash shrimp, crab, flounder and even a full menu for land lubbers, if you must.

Calabash waterfront

Check out this list of dining options that any foodie or seafood aficionado will appreciate:

Beck’s Restaurant

Calabash Seafood Hut

Capt. John’s Seafood House

Capt. Nance Seafood

Dockside Seafood House

Ella’s of Calabash

The Boundary House

Waterfront Seafood Shack Market and Eatery

Insider Tips:

After a filling meal of local Calabash seafood, a stroll along the docks is the perfect way to walk off those generous portions and take in the ambiance of a working waterfront.

Try a scoop (or two) of Calabash Creamery’s Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream named one of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors” by USA Today.

If you prefer cooking up your own seafood, you can buy freshly caught fish and shrimp right from the docks along Calabash’s waterfront. Or you can catch your own by going out on one of the charters that leave from Calabash.

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.

Celebrate July 4th with Family Fun and Fireworks in NC’s Brunswick Islands

If you plan on being in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for the Fourth of the July holiday week, you’ll be in for a treat! The weather is warm, the days are long and sunny, and the sandy shores are awaiting your arrival and there is an abundance of festivities to celebrate all weekend-long.

IMG_2023The North Carolina 4th of July Festival in Southport, founded over 200 years ago, is one of the most historic celebrations in America. More than 50,000 people gather to commemorate the nation’s independence for several days full of family and fireworks. To kick off the week’s festivities, the pre-festival fun starts early at Waterfront Park on Bay Street with a Freedom 5K and 1-mile fun run on June 25 at 8 a.m. All ages are invited to participate in this family event.

Head over to Oak Island on July 1 for a family Beach Day of relaxation and entertainment. The celebration includes endless activities like sand sculpture building, volleyball, corn hole, bocce ball, and horseshoe tournaments. The fun continues into the evening with live entertainment and anniversary fireworks. Beach Day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. with fireworks at the Oak Island Pier.

OIB July 4 golf cart parade 2For Sunday evening celebrations on July 3, be sure to get a spot at Ocean Isle Beach by 9 p.m. as the community sets off fireworks from the pier.  Ocean Isle Beach’s golf cart and bicycle parade starts at 10 a.m. on July 4th at the Museum of Carolina.

Attend Southport’s daytime July 4th celebrations with North Carolina’s most patriotic 4th of July Parade. Beginning at 11 a.m., the streets of Southport are filled with a variety of over 120 floats and cars, along with live music, concessions and a boat raffle. It’s not Independence Day without fireworks, and Southport lights up the sky with the best of them! At 9 p.m., crowds line the waterfront and boats anchor in the harbor to watch the spectacular display to commemorate America’s birthday.

Calabash will celebrate the 4th with fireworks on the riverfront and entertainment by Gary Lowder and the Smokin Hot Band. Festivities start at 6 p.m.

It’s no wonder the islands are a popular spot for July 4th and all summer long, offering a number of events for locals and visitors to make the most out of their holiday weekend by the beach. Plan your stay around these events! For more information on festivals and activities for the Fourth of July in NC’s Brunswick Islands, please visit our calendar of events.

The Inside Scoop!

Flava Decorations 1“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s kind of the same thing!” says the sign outside Flava’s Ice Cream in Southport, NC. And who are we to argue? Better to step inside and enjoy a scoop of Death by Chocolate or their most popular flavor, Nutty Coconut, after a day out on the water or any of NC Brunswick Islands’ miles of pristine beaches!

In fact, you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth no matter where you are in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – each town and island has several choices as unique and individual as the islands themselves!

Holden Beach is home to two ice cream shops that are must-stops. Beaches N Cream’s all-original, small batch recipes use only the freshest, local ingredients that are free of harmful preservatives, additives and hormones for the ice cream purist. Try the Apple Crisp, Boston Cream Pie, Butter Brickle, or County Fair Funnel Cake – the winner of the 2016 New Flavor Contest! With a new flavor featured almost every day, there is always a reason to go back! Head to Fantasy Isle Ice Cream for a one-of-a-kind miniature golf course experience, shaded and hidden by oak trees. Their ice cream however, is no secret. Hundreds of photos of satisfied customers line the walls, and they boast a solid five-star ranking on Trip Advisor. Known for their brightly colored buckets of retro-50s candies, Sandman’s Candyland on Holden Beach also serves ice cream and shakes.

IMG_8791Calabash may be known as the “seafood capital of the world,” but Calabash Creamery sets the standard for old-fashioned ice cream by making it with 16 percent butter fat cream to give it a one-of-kind taste. More than 50 year-round and seasonal flavors, including Brownie Batter, Cinnamon Bun, Mango Tango and the home-town favorite, Cow-a-Bash Crunch, offer just as many reasons to stop in.

DSC_3847_OCEAN ISLE ICE CREAM_LRThe cute yellow building that welcomes you onto Ocean Isle Beach is the home of the Ocean Isle Creamery where you will find at least 17 homemade flavors every day! All the ice cream has its start from a dairy farm in Dunn, NC, and some of the creative creaminess includes Pecan Caramel Swirl, DreamSicle, Cotton Candy and the perennial favorite, German Chocolate Cake. The Ice Cream Shoppe, another favorite place to chill out on Ocean Isle Beach, celebrates its 30th summer this year with a great selection of splits and the best Strawberry Milkshake around!  Build your own sundae at Build a Sundae or have a side of fudge with your ice cream at Pete’s Sweets.

Because a trip to Sunset Beach isn’t complete without a stop at How Sweet It Is, make sure you sample the brightly primary-colored Play Dough ice cream at this adorable ice cream parlor! How sweet it is to have so many options, indeed! You can’t go wrong with their Dutch Chocolate, Banana Pudding or Sea Salt Caramel.

From their striped awning and walk-up window, Spike’s Dairy Bar in downtown Southport churns out favorites like Almond Joy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the “to-die-for” Coffee Mud Pie! Be sure to treat your four-legged family member with the ‘Pup Cup,’ a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit!

Leaky Tiki Sign 2cropThe largest of NC Brunswick Islands’ five barrier islands, Oak Island offers several choices. Frosty’s is legendary for its ice cream and the tantalizing aroma of house-made waffle cones. Top the cone with a generous scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate or Butterfinger Ice Cream for the ultimate sweet treat! Also on Oak island, Leaky Tiki’s is great for a scoop of homemade ice cream and to pick up some house-made fudge for later.  In addition to ice cream, Tropical Treats offers a lighter take to cooling down with a variety of Italian ices and sno-cones. For a nostalgic taste, head to Dairy Queen for a Dilly Bar.

If you want to keep even lighter on the calories, touch down at Banana Boat Landing (Southport), Ocean Isle Creamery, or Back Porch Ice Cream (Calabash) where frozen yogurt is served alongside ice cream.

Maybe you can’t buy happiness, but you can certainly find it on NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Top reasons to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands right now

The math is a no-brainer!


Five barrier islands + four charming coastal towns + six separate beach communities = 45 miles of wide, stunning beaches! This southernmost corner of North Carolina is one of the South’s best kept secrets! Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island rank among North Carolina’s best beaches with uncrowded sand, surf and fun, and the picturesque Southern towns of Southport, Calabash, Shallotte and Leland draw visitors with family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops.

Full-Moon Fever

The beach vacation isn’t just for daytime anymore!  North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is also the place to explore by the light of the moon for a new perspective on this pristiIMG_6444 b_edited-1ne coastal getaway. August 10, 2014 and September 8, 2014 are the last two full moons of the summer vacation season and the perfect times to join one of our outdoor adventure outfitters for a moonlight kayak trip to take to the marsh under the twinkling stars. Twilight kayak tours are also available for those that prefer to paddle during the last light of the day.

Purple Feet

For those who need one last blast of summer (and, don’t we all?!), North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers fun and quirky summer festivals and events  for a last great beach vacation including the Purple Feet Festival at Silver Coast Winery where, you guessed it, a grape stomp is part of the festivities!

Phlock to the Beach “A Buffett Style Beach Bash”

  • Aug 22, 2014 – Aug 23, 2014
  • Oak Island

25th Annual Oak Island Art Guild Arts & Craft Festival

  • Aug 30, 2014 – Aug 30, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Oak Island

Purple Feet Festival

  • Sep 6, 2014 – Sep 6, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Silver Coast Winery; Ocean Isle Beach

Back to school – NOT!

When kids head to school, that’s your signal to head to any of our five barrier islands as the already secluded beaches of Brunswick Islands will become even more serene. For a peaceful back to nature experience, visit Sunset Beach where all that separates you from the surf and marsh is a wide stretch of beach and dunes. Connect with nature on Bird Island and take a quiet stroll to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and get in touch with and share your innermost thoughts.

Tomatoes, blackberries and peaches, oh my!

The flavors of summer are calling from North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Where ever you are staying for your beach vacation, be sure to get your hands on fresh, locally-sourced produce from the Shallotte, Oak Island, and Southport farmer’s markets. For great coastal dining, spruce up a family cookout with the fresh corn, green beans, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches and more. Oak Island Farmer’s Market even has honey, while Shallotte has handcrafted items such as pottery, jewelry, glassware and homemade bread, cakes and cookies. For a truly unique farmer’s market experience, stop by Southport Waterfront Market for local produce, baked goods, handcrafted items spread under ancient live oak trees and even live music. See the below dates and times for the markets as many close mid-September.

Oak Island FaIMG_0110rmer’s Market, Saturdays through Sep 8, 2014, 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Shallotte Farmer’s Market, Mondays through- Sep 13, 2014, 8 a.m. -12 p.m.

Southport Waterfront Market, Wednesdays through Sep 25, 2014, 8 a.m. 1 p.m.

Of course, if you want a night off from the kitchen, our restaurants offer great coastal and waterfront dining!

Turtle Tracks

Turtle alert – the loggerhead turtle nests that have been laid on our North Carolina beaches will begin to hatch in July and go through October! There is probably no experience more 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 beaches, and, if you see folks camped out on the beach around sundown, stop by for a look. Chances are they are a group of volunteers on “turtle watch” waiting for the hatchlings to emerge and make their way to the ocean. View a video here to see what all the fuss is about!