FALL in Love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

september and October in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are packed with events attracting everyone from music lovers to runners to anglers to foodies to festival goers. Adults and children alike can enjoy a variety of attractions including fishing tournaments, movie nights on the lawn, grape stomping, sandcastle building, and a surf off. Add these exciting events with mild weather and great rates on accommodations and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable fall getaway. Here’s just a taste of our fall featured events:

Sixth Annual Southport Wooden Boat Show

Southport Wooden Boat ShowThe Southport Wooden Boat Show offers a chance to admire wooden boats, and talk with those who are passionate about making and owning them. The event will feature a contest where judges will be awarding the outstanding boat in a variety of categories, “Nauti-kids” activities for the young sailors, and nautical and maritime demonstrations. Exhibits from the North Carolina Aquarium and The Ft. Fisher Underwater Archaeology Branch will be on display throughout the afternoon. There will also be a Seafood Chowder Cook-off featuring five teams competing to win cash prizes and the title of the 2015 “SWBS Chowder Champion.”

North Carolina Oyster Festival

DSC_1242_Oyster EatersThe biggest food event of the season is the 35th annual North Carolina Oyster Festival that transforms the streets of Ocean Isle Beach into an open-air walking district, and boasts the best local cuisine, arts, crafts and entertainment. An Oyster Shucking Contest features professionals competing for the state title, perhaps dreaming of the national, or even the World Championships in Galway, Ireland. Amateurs are welcome to try their luck at local recognition. An Oyster Stew Cook-off allows attendees to try and rate local chef’s best recipes. More than 15 food and beverage vendors will be there offering everything from seafood and landlubber delights, to healthy or fun festival food.  Live music will be featured throughout the weekend.

NC Festival By The Sea

P1000027This two-day event kicks off with a parade down the Holden Beach causeway –  the one day of each year that locals and guests alike can enjoy the views of the Holden Beach Bridge on foot. Hundreds can enjoy taking pictures and absorbing the sights from the top of the bridge. A horseshoe tournament and sandcastle contest entertains the more competitive while kids can enjoy face painting, kite flying and more. The festival will also feature live music, arts and crafts and food vendors.

Check out our calendar of events for a full list of fun fall events!

Beach Smart: Stay Safe In The Ocean

with miles of un-crowded sand, surf, fun and sun, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the perfect destination for beach lovers. And a big part of a beach vacation for DSC_8627_Retouchedmany is enjoying mother nature and the ocean. Wherever you take your beach vacation – in the Brunswick Islands or elsewhere – it’s important to remember that we share the ocean with many types of animals and that tides and currents are an everyday part of the ocean. With that in mind, please take a moment to review some tips on staying safe in the water.

RIP CURRENTS

Rip currents are fast-moving water channels that form when waves break onshore between barrier islands, sandbars or piers; gravity pulls the water forcefully and swiftly out to sea, a hazard for even the best swimmers.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rip currents can be difficult to see, but here are some clues:

  • a channel of churning, choppy water;
  • an area with a noticeable difference in color;
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily out to sea;
  • and/or a break in the incoming wave pattern.

Even the strongest swimmer can’t swim against a rip current, but you can outsmart it:

  • Stay calm. Don’t fight by swimming straight back to shore, or you’ll risk tiring yourself out.
  • Swim sideways out of the current and parallel to the shore (see diagram). Then swim at an angle back to the shore.
  • If you’re still caught, float or tread water. The current will eventually dissipate. Even if you’re carried far out, if you haven’t worn yourself out fighting it, you should be able to slowly swim parallel and then at an angle back to shore. If your arms are too tired, swim on your back and use just your legs and feet to propel yourself to the beach.

If you see someone caught in a rip current, don’t try to rescue them yourself. Call 911; yell out the above instructions, and/or toss them a flotation device – it’s a good idea to take one to the beach on every visit. Here’s a link to the NOAA rip current forecast for our area beaches: http://www.weather.gov/ilm/BeachRip

OCEAN WILDLIFE

aIMG_1546 resizeJellyfish can put the sting on your vacation. Always scan the water before splashing in. Make sure you educate your children about jellyfish, as they might touch them out of curiosity in the water or on the sand. In case of a sting, rinse off any remaining tentacles with salt water, not fresh, and use a credit card or other item to scrape, if necessary. Then rinse with vinegar, not fresh water. If you experience swelling, shortness of breath, or faintness, seek medical attention immediately.PMOW

The less common blue-purple Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore. It can deliver a painful sting even when dead. Portugese man o’ war stings are treated differently than jellyfish stings. First apply saltwater and then follow-up with hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not treat with vinegar. If necessary seek medical attention.

While the ocean is home to a wide variety of sea life including sharks, shark encounters are rare.  According to the ISAF, Florida Museum of Natural History, the likelihood of a shark attack is 1 in 11.5 million. The likelihood of a fatality is less than 1 in 264 million. http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Sharks/Statistics/beachattacks.htm  To put it in perspective, in North Carolina you would be 193 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than a shark attack.

Though chance encounters with sharks are highly unlikely, there are precautions you can take when swimming in the ocean:

  • Sharks actually try to avoid humans, but if you’re in murky water they may not see you.  Use extra caution.
  • Leave shiny jewelry on shore – to a shark it may look like fish scales.
  • Sharks see contrast particularly well so dark swimsuits are preferable to bright colored clothing.
  • Remember that you’re sharing the water with fish that attract sharks and other predators. Avoid swimming in the early morning, at dusk and at night when fish and sharks are feeding.
  • Avoid swimming between islands, and within 300 feet of surfers, piers, fishermen and where seagulls or other birds are diving and feeding.
  • Use caution around sandbars with steep drop-offs toward the ocean.
  • Avoid swimming alone, especially far from shore in deeper waters.
  • Avoid swimming if bleeding because a shark’s sense of smell is highly sensitive.
  • Don’t fish while standing more than knee deep in the surf.
  • Do not harass a shark – even nurse sharks can bite.
  • Do not enter water if sharks are around and calmly evacuate the water if any sharks are seen.

For the complete brochure on Shark Sense, click here: http://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/ncseagrant_docs/products/2000s/shark_sense.pdf

BOATING SAFETY

Boating safety is a serious priority in North Carolina. Operating watercraft is both fun and safe when you observe the rules. For regulations and rules to be aware of when
you bring your boat to our waters, please follow this link to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s boating regulations: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Boating/LawsSafety/BoatingRegulations.aspx

Public boating access areas and marinas are available throughout Brunswick Islands. If you’re planning to rent a fishing or pleasure boat or personal watercraft, our outfitters will include a safety course and checklist.DSC_0390_OIB_Offshore Boat_LR

By educating yourself, your friends and family about ocean safety, you can ensure that everyone has a great vacation and can’t wait to return again soon!

 

Pedal Along the Coast

the quaint city streets, peaceful seaside roads and gorgeous weather of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are made for bicycling. Visitors to the Brunswick Islands can feel the sun on their faces and the wind on their backs as they cycle through the charming seaside streets to the beach or through the moss-draped live oaks on the mainland.

Visitors can bring their own bikes or rent them from a number of different companies. Most companies provide adult and child bikes, as well as child trailers to attach to the back of a bike so the whole family can come along for the ride. Tandem bikes are also available at Beach Fun Rentals, Coastal Urge, and PaddleOKI.

The Adventure Kayak Company even gives guided bike tours in and around Southport, teaching guests about the town’s historical blockade runners, river pilots and pirates and showing them the beauty of the live oaks and historical waterfront property.

DSC_8114_BICYCLEOnce they have their bikes, guests can take them out on the 45 miles of wide, stunning beaches, along the roads near the Intracoastal Waterway, or in scenic area parks. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has many roads that follow the curve of the coast: Beach Drive and Ocean Drive on Oak Island, Caswell Beach Road on Caswell Beach, Ocean Boulevard on Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Boulevard and First Street on Ocean Isle Beach, Main Street on Sunset Beach, South Bald Head Wynd and Cape Creek Road on Bald Head Island. Click here to see Holden Beach’s Bike Route map. There are three different routes on Holden Beach totaling 20 miles. The Brunswick Nature Park offers bike trails through a scenic 900 acre wooded park near Leland. See the Brunswick Nature Park hiking and biking trail map here.

So whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely pedal along the beach or a sightseeing adventure, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the perfect place for your coastal bike ride.

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.

Fall in Love with the Sunrises and Sunsets in NC’s Brunswick Islands

in our southernmost corner of North Carolina, one of the South’s most intriguing natural phenomena occurs every fall through winter.

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, this orientation means that you can sit on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach and watch IMG_4655both the sunrise and sunset without having to move your beach chair.

What’s the reason for the natural phenomenon and why does it only occur late fall through early spring?  To find the answer, we went to the experts – the folks who are on a first-name basis with the stars at the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.

The short answer, according to Ingram Planetarium manager Edward Ovsenik, is that, “Because our beaches are generally oriented to face south and since the sun is far enough south in the late fall through early spring, the sun appears to both rise and set over the ocean off our shoreline.”

But, why can’t you see the same thing in the summer, you ask?

“We say the sun rises in the East and sets in the West but this only occurs exactly in the East and exactly in the West at the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, said Edward, who added, “When you think of the Earth revolving around the sun, the axis is tilted. As the Earth moves around the sun, the sun appears to move north and south of the equator by quite a number of degrees. At the Equinoxes the Sun is positioned over the Equator.  At the summer solstice, the sun is as far north as possible. However, in fall, winter and early spring, the sun is so far south of the equator that it rises not in the east, but southeast, and sets not in the west, but southwest.”

Ingram PlanetDSC_9509_Sunset Beach_Planitarium_LRarium in Sunset Beach strives to stimulate interest in and a broader understanding of our earth, our solar system and our universe. The Planetarium even hosts star shows, laser music shows and programs about astronomy, science and space exploration throughout the year.

When you visit this fall aIMG_0100 cnd winter, take the sunrise/sunset challenge at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Wake up early in the morning and experience the vibrant colors of the expanding sun as it climbs higher and higher, awakening the sky with every inch of radiance. Or, capture the last glimpses of daylight as the last effervescent tones of the sun expand over the vast horizon – all in the same day.

We are confident you won’t want to miss this bucket-list activity for it is one of the most scenic fall-nomena this season.