Fall in Love with Nature in the Brunswick Islands

February is the month of love, but visitors and locals can fall in love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands year-round, including its stunning nature and coastal beauty. Whether spotting dolphins from the sand or birdwatching in the marshes, the nature of the Brunswick Islands is sure to take your breath away. Plan your next date with the outdoors with one of these scenic adventures.

Sun, Sand and Surf
The Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of beaches are filled with opportunities for amazing nature sightings. Take a morning stroll and spot sand dollars and other unique shells along the shore, or go for a bike ride at low tide and watch for dolphins playing in the waves. In the fall and winter months, watching the sun rise and set over the ocean is an incredible view on the Brunswick Islands’ south-facing beaches. No matter the time of year, beachgoers in search of natural beauty won’t be disappointed.

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Walk (or float!) on the Wild Side
Discover a different side of the barrier islands with the Intracoastal Waterway and the area’s vast ecosystem of salt marshes, creeks and estuaries. Find some of the best kayaking, paddle boarding and more in the region where salt water meets fresh, home to crabs, oysters, fish, shrimp, skates and even dolphins. Nature preserves and parks throughout the Brunswick Islands provide additional outdoor spaces to spot wildlife and unique plants. Or try a swamp boat eco-tour for an up close look at a cypress swamp.

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Shell-ebrate Miracles
For a truly heartwarming experience from July through October, watch baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean in their first moments of life outside their eggs. Thanks to an abundance of trained volunteers and the sanctuaries throughout the Brunswick Islands, the nests are observed and tended to so the community can be educated on the importance of the protection of this endangered species. Visitors along the beach at night can see this natural miracle for themselves, and watch as volunteers monitor the hatching process and guide the baby turtles to the ocean, where they can live for up to 50 years or more.

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Birds of a Feather
NC’s Brunswick Islands is home to eight sites along the North Carolina Birding Trail. The Islands’ prime location and varied ecosystems make it a haven for birds, and over 330 species have been spotted in Brunswick County. From the majestic bald eagle to the spectacular painted bunting, nature lovers are in for a treat. For a full list of the NC Birding Trail sites in the Brunswick Islands and the species often seen at each site, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/activity/brunswick-bird-watching-mainland.

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Out of This World
For a unique take on some other-worldly nature, visit the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. The state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital protection and surround-sound system where visitors can learn about the universe around them. The theater shows educational programs about space exploration and astronomy, along with laser music shows. Explore the interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall for fun, hands-on learning.

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To learn more about nature exploration in the Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

 

Active Adventures Along the Brunswick Islands

Venture out of your comfort zone and into nature on an active adventure in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Parkside, seaside or riverside, the Brunswick Islands are filled with excursions for all levels of adventurers. Explore freshwater and saltwater activities, such as charter fishing, kayaking, surfing or paddle boarding, or discover the rich history of the islands on a guided tour. From the surf to the sky, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands set the bar higher for adventure seekers in the southeast.

Sand and Surf Adventures

DSC_0407_OIB_Surfing_LR_edited-1Surfing and Scuba Diving

Don’t just dip your toes in the water! Dive straight into the surf with your board or if you’re certified in scuba diving take a saltwater adventure during your visit to the Brunswick Islands. Several factors make the Brunswick Islands the perfect location for surf classes.  Number one, and most important, the gentle sloping beaches allow for waves to break softly, meaning beginner surfers can take their time getting on their feet. The second reason is the relatively smaller waves seen in the area. Waves of 2′-3′ are ideal to start your surfing adventure on. And third, the warm summer waters invite everyone to come experience the beauty of surfing.

Kayaking and Paddle Boarding

Feeling landlocked lately? Your next adventure could lie just around the bend balancing on a paddle board or seated in a kayak in a river, tidal creek, or the Intracoastal Waterway. Island adventurers can pick their intensity from a meandering paddle downstream to kayaking on the ocean tide. Visitors are welcome to bring their own gear or rent equipment during their stay.

DSC_4299_DEEP SEA FISHING_LRCharter Fishing

Let our local charter captains help you find the big catch whether it’s out in the Gulf Stream or in-shore fishing. You’ll be sure to have plenty of “fish tales” from your adventure along with the fresh catch of the day.

 

 

Adventure By Land

Parks

Reconnect with nature on a blissful stroll through one of the many Brunswick Islands parks or nature preserves. Explore the environment and native animals on a journey from longleaf pine savannas to cool Carolina marshes and sandy shores, or hit the trails for biking, hiking or horseback riding. Take a break from the surf and trade sandy beaches for unspoiled woodlands, riverwalks and expansive estuaries.

IMG_8138 crop wmTours

From the breezy comfort of a tram or bicycle to a classic walking tour, opportunities abound to explore the rich and unique history of the Brunswick Islands. Tours give visitors opportunities to discover those who have called the island home, from movie crews filming the latest Hollywood hit to pirates of the past. You’re invited to journey back in time strolling past classic Southern architecture or popular waterfront attractions in the charming coastal towns.

Biking

Treat yourself to the quintessential seaside experience by renting a bike and exploring the enchanting island towns for yourself. Discover the hidden gems of the Brunswick Islands as you wind through the quaint seaside towns. Feel like a local as you breeze past scenic ocean views and colorful storefronts searching for your next adventure.

High in the Sky Adventure

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Take your coastal excursion to new heights as you soar above a swamp on a zip line at Shallotte River Swamp Park. Swing into adventure while flying through a 300-year-old swamp cypress canopy. Large and small groups alike are welcome to enjoy a bird’s eye view while flying through the lush treetops.

 

Lighthouses

For those looking for a middle ground between a high-flying adventure and grounded escape, climb one of the lighthouses essential to the Carolina coast’s history. These charming lighthouses are filled top to bottom with the history of the seaside towns and boast spectacular sights of the endless beaches and ocean.

Helicopter Tours and Biplane Rides

DSC_0239_BaldHead_Aerial_hiClimb to even greater heights on a biplane or helicopter tour with the clearest view of the Carolina coast. Hop into a helicopter or an open cockpit biplane for perfect marine life and lighthouse spotting opportunities.

Summer weather beckons travelers to find their adventurous side, whether that’s exploring the surf and saltwater or soaring over southern swampland. Soak in the rays of summer in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands where you will find activities to quench anyone’s thirst for adventure.

Flock to NC’s Brunswick Islands and Capture Birding at its Finest

it doesn’t matter if you are a bird enthusiast, vacationing with family and friends or live in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, everyone is mesmerized by the overwhelming number of bird species living along the coast of the Brunswick Islands.

There are eight birding sites on the North Carolina Birding Trail that are located along the Brunswick Islands. The area’s diverse ecosystems make it a natural haven for hundreds of species of birds.  Over 330 species of birds have bee seen in Brunswick County.

Nature trails andoystercatcher birding sites dot the area from Sunset Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway to the Cape Fear River and the Brunswick Town-Fort Anderson State Historic Site and several nature preserves, offering plenty of places to observe numerous indigenous and migrating bird species, some of which are threatened or endangered. Herons, egrets, bald eagles, plovers, terns, pelicans, clapper rail and one of the largest of North Carolina’s water birds, the federally-endangered wood storks, are among the prized sightings for birders in Brunswick Islands.

wood storksPopular places for birding include the nature preserve on Bird Island, located adjacent to Sunset Beach. The uninhabited, 1,200-acre state preserve offers a chance to see salt marshes, maritime grasslands and shrubs and even rare plants, such as the Sea Beach Amaranth. Over 260 species of birds alone can be found on Bird Island and Sunset Beach, nesting or migrating throughout different seasons of the year. Species that are of interest here include: Horned Grebe, Wood Stork, American Oystercatcher and Black Skimmer.

Another popular stop on the North Carolina Birding Trail includes a ferry ride to Bald Head Island. Bald Head Island provides access to 14 miles of pristine beaches, 10,000 acres of salt marsh and approximately 180 acres of protected maritime forest. Species that are of interest here include: Wilson’s Plover, Piping Plover, Sandwich Tern, Least Tern and Painted Bunting.

piping ploverClick here to view a short video on birding in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.