Experience Marsh Madness in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

as spring rounds the corner, and everyone is caught up in the madness happening on the basketball court, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beckons both new and returning visitors to look for exciting activities and hidden treasures nestled within the Brunswick Islands. Here, you are the coach. Get off the bench and get involved in Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!

Kayak Through the Marsh

Go on a guided kayak tour through the marshes and waterways around the Brunswick Islands and check out the wildlife that calls the marsh home.  Take a trip to Bird Island, venture down the Intracoastal Waterway, or take a twilight tour to watch the sunset over the marsh.  Excursions are available for all experience levels and ages – including first timers – and guides provide a wealth of knowledge about local wildlife and history.  Or rent a kayak and head out on your own.

DSC_0126_OIB Paddleboard_LRPaddle Your Way to Adventure

Visitors can also try their hand at stand-up paddle boarding. Take a break from the waves and paddle the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks or island canals. Outfitters will deliver and pick up any rentals directly to your condo or beach house. If you are new to the sport, sign up to take a lesson.

Catch a Meal

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a top hot spot for salt and freshwater fishing on the East Coast. Depending on the season, fishermen can find red drum, black drum, specked trout, sheepshead, flounder, redfish, shrimp and mullet in the marshes. You can also try your hand at a favorite family activity and go crabbing off a canal or waterway dock.

Spot a Bird

IMG_6999 largeFor bird enthusiasts, or visitors simply seeking to soak in nature’s bounty, the marshes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are home to a multitude of bird species. Common sightings include great blue heron, little blue heron, green heron, great egrets, snowy egrets, clapper rail, white ibis, American oyster catchers and many more. There are eight sites in Brunswick County included in the North Carolina Birding Trail perfect for spotting the 330 bird species known to inhabit the various Brunswick County ecosystems.

Beat the buzzer, and don’t miss Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Get Hooked on Pier Fishing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

for a fishing experience that doesn’t involve braving the high seas, pier fishing on one of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ piers could be the answer to your desire to reel in a big catch. As the season starts to transition from summer to fall, the scaly swimmers that grace the waters around the barrier islands change as well with red drum, sea trout, mackerel and more.

Take a trip over to historic Southport to experience the quaint Southport Pier near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. This handicapped-accessible pier is a public facility and usage is free for all. Amenities include benches, a gazebo, swings and even ice cream during certain days of the year. Here you can hook a fish or even bird watch as the site is featured on the NC Birding Trail.

Families, competitive fisherman or amateur anglers can line up along the Ocean Crest Pier on Oak Island and reel in a king mackerel and many other species while enjoying a community live bait tank, an onsite weather station for optimal wind speed and air/water temperatures and a full-service restaurant adjacent to the pier.

IMG_8101 oak island pierAlso on Oak Island is the newly re-opened landmark, the Oak Island Pier, formerly known as the Yaupon Pier. With a new restaurant and tiki bar, the Oak Island Pier will provide any visitor with the ultimate pier fishing experience. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier for the views or reel in the catch of the day for a local dining experience. This pier is certainly a welcome return and a big catch!

The pier on Holden Beach offers a great perch to reel in your prize fish from. Selling daily, seasonal and three-day fishing permits and live bait, Holden Beach Pier is the place to be this fall. If you’d rather be a spectator to the sport, you can do so here for just $1.

Just down the way on Ocean Isle Beach, the Ocean Isle Pier offers equipment rentals and season pass sales along with ice cream, drinks, fishing bait and tackle and rods. Fishing fees are $9 per rod. Adult spectators are $1 and the fee is 50 cents for children under the age of 6.

DSC_1719_Sunset Beach_Bait Casting Pier_LRCalling all king fishermen – the Sunset Beach Pier is waiting for you! This 900-foot pier on Sunset Beach is a hot spot and includes top-notch amenities: a double sink at the cleaning table, a snack bar with breakfast and hot sandwiches, a game room and even an ATM in the air-conditioned pier house. Inside, you can purchase bait and rent a rod. Three-day, five-day and seasonal fishing passes are available and include parking.

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, there are prized landmark fishing piers on four of the five islands. All are equipped with handicapped access, food, bait, tackle and rentals. And most importantly, residents and visitors will always be there to offer advice and encouragement for novice and expert fishermen alike.  So be sure to make pier fishing part of your next fishing or family beach vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

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.

Five Great Reasons to Visit NC’s Brunswick Islands in the Spring

five great reasons to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands in the Spring:

1. Spring Festivals

Phlock to the Beach “A Buffett Style Beach Bash”, April 18, 2015, brings Jimmy Buffett inspired merriment to events like the Oak Island Lighthouse 5k, 10k, & 1/2 Marathon, Wings and Wheel automotive and airplane show, and the Beach Bash Concert.

At Holden Beach’s Days at the Docks Festival, April 25-26, 2015, festival goers can peruse over 40 arts and crafts and food vendors set up under Holden Beach bridge while they enjoy live music and entertainment. Unique activities include the horseshoe tournament and the world-famous “Bopple Race,” where numbered apples race down the Intracoastal Waterway to the finish line.

2. Have the Beach to IMG_1746 OIB cropped smallYourself

Visitors will have North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands to themselves when they beat the summer season to the miles of unspoiled beaches and beautiful southern towns. After a day in the sand, Brunswick Islands’ towns also offer visitors quaint shopping and world-class cuisine.

3. Good Weather with Ideal Temperatures in the 70s

Great temperate spring weather means you can stay out longer on the beach without overheating and watch the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the evening without getting too cold. Those who want to get active in the water can try surfing or SUP (stand-up paddle boarding). And whether you are reeling in a catch from a pier or a boat, these wonderful temperatures make fishing for flounder, drum, sea bass, tuna, mahi-mahi and many other species a relaxing and pleasant experience.

4. Great Golf

Golfers looking for long days on the fairways in the cool, salty air of the coast are sure to love the lush golf courses of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands also known as NC’Pearl 16 West_0179_LL_his Golf Coast. There are courses for every type of player, from beginner to expert, and many of these well-maintained courses were designed by legendary golf architects like Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Dan Maples, Willard Byrd, Tim Cate and Hale Irwin.

5. Great Deals on Vacation Homes

Get more bang for your buck with the lower spring prices for accommodations around the islands. Whether you are looking for a weekend cottage for two or a house large enough to fit the whole family, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has vacation homes available to fit any budget this spring at popular locations like Holden Beach, Caswell Beach, Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Sunset Beach , and Ocean Isle Beach.

Oak Island Vacation Rental HomeSpring is the perfect time to visit the five pristine barrier islands and lovely southern towns of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and find out why this gorgeous seaside country is one of the best vacation destinations on the east coast. Start planning your vacation today!

Beyond the Beach: Discover Marsh Madness in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

as March Madness draws near and things heat up on the basketball court, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands invites families looking for an off-court experience to take a glimpse beyond the basic beach vacation and discover Marsh Madness for an inspiring spring and summer coastal adventure.

Those in search of new things to do on the North Carolina coast will find that one of the most undiscovered and under-appreciated environments along the shore is also one of the most surprising and fascinating – the salt marsh. The marshes and waterways are exploding with warmth, life and color, attracting migrating birds and spawning new marine life. The waterways and wetlands are the perfect setting for spring and summer vacation activities, including kayaking, birding, wildlife watching, boating, fishing and crabbing.

The vast amoIMG_7045 blog smallunt of marshland and waterways make North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands home to some of the best kayaking in North Carolina. Take a twilight marsh kayak tour behind Sunset Beach and watch the pink light from the setting sun illuminate the Spartina grass. Or take a daytime outing around Oak Island, Holden Beach, or Ocean Isle Beach and explore diverse coastal ecosystems for a chance to catch a glimpse of otters, deer and even stingrays swimming underneath.

Often called the “nursery of the sea,” the salt marsh is home to dolphins, fish, turtles, crabs and birds who find food and shelter here. A great area for birding; herons, egrets, ibis, terns, pelicans and one of the largest of North Carolina’s water birds, the Federally-endangered wood stork, are among the prized sightings for birders.

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is one of the best fishing areas on the East Coast. Cast a line from one of its iconic fishing piers, or rent a boat to reel in Redfish, Flounder and Trout from the Intracoastal waterways. Or, drop a crab trapIMG_6623 blog to catch one of the sweetest delicacies of the sea – a basket full of blue crabs. For those who prefer that others do the catching and cooking, enjoy your meal at one of a number of restaurants that offer a view of the Intracoastal Waterway or ocean.

The five pristine barrier islands and miles of unspoiled beaches that comprise North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands hide one of the best coastal adventures on the Intracoastal side, the majestic salt marshes. Plan your vacation today to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and see what adventures are in store for you.