Island Hop without a Passport in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

with five barrier islands, island hopping is a must when exploring North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this summer! Located in the southernmost corner of North Carolina, the islands of Brunswick County are strung together with forty-five miles of silken coastline.

Graced with sunny, secluded beaches away from high-rises and crowds, each island provides its own unique character, charm and activities. Here, beaches are perfect for family vacations, reunions, weddings, surfers, nature enthusiasts, and golf getaways, and each island has something different to offer its visitors. It is impossible to pick a favorite, so vacationers should visit them all!

Sunset Beach

Old BridgeStart your island hop on the southernmost island at Sunset Beach for a peaceful and relaxing experience. You will find this island top of the list for a quiet and quintessential beach town as residents are passionate about preservation. Take a mile walk from the last beach access south to Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox to learn about sand dune wildlife and experience the habitats of the beautiful coastal preserve. Don’t forget to also tour the Old Sunset Bridge Museum, home to the last pontoon swing bridge on the East Coast!

Ocean Isle

Next hop over to the seven miles of Ocean Isle Beach, where you will find something for every generation! Stroll along the shoreline, scan for signs of sea turtles or catch a wave with private or group surf lessons. To experience sea life with a life-size diorama and touch tank make a visit to The Museum of Coastal Carolina. If you are feeling adventurous, try ziplining through a 300-year-old swamp cypress canopy at The Shallotte River Swamp Park, which is a challenging and thrilling adventure for all ages!

Holden Beach

DSC_7135_HOLDEN BEACH BRIDGENamed one of the best family beaches in the U.S. by National Geographic Traveler magazine and voted one of the top 10 beaches by USA Today readers, Holden Beach is your ideal destination for small town charm. Cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway by kayak and enjoy a day “downtown” with lunch at one of the several restaurant decks overlooking the waterway and the many shrimp boats that call Holden Beach home. In this wildlife haven, your family will enjoy spotting dolphins and playfully chasing ghost crabs with flashlights in the evening.

Oak Island

Ten miles of uncrowded beaches with more than 60 access points, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps makes the town of Oak Island a perfect stop. You will have just as much fun touring the town on bicycles with bells DSC_2743_CASWELL_LRand baskets while eating ice-cream as you will in the water! Include your four-legged family members as Oak Island is one of the top dog friendly beaches in the country according to Dog Fancy magazine.  Sharing the same island, Caswell Beach is a quiet, laid-back beach that is also convenient to the shops and restaurants of Oak Island.  Standing sentinel over its uncrowded mostly residential shores is the Oak Island Lighthouse, a tri-colored beacon reaching about 16 nautical miles offshore. Make an appointment in advance to schedule a climb to the top.

Bald Head Island

Finish off your island hop by secluding yourself from reality at Brunswick’s resort-style, no-cars-allowed, Bald Head Island, only reachable by ferry. Explore the unspoiled natural surroundings hiking, biking or by golf-cart. Bald Head Island is an eco-lover’s paradise with 10,000 acres of nature preserves and extraordinary wildlife. North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, “Old Baldy,” and Smith Island Museum are favorite attractions for the vacationers!

There are a variety of accommodations for every stop on your island hopping adventure, so start booking your vacation today!

Brunswick Islands Sunrise/Sunset Photo Contest Winners

along the shores of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, one of the South’s most stunning natural phenomena occurs every fall through winter. Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, our islands have the unique characteristic of running east-west along the coastline with our beaches facing south. Beginning in late fall, this orientation means you can sit on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without having to move your beach chair!

Whatever the time of year, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands features some of the best sunrises and sunsets you’ll experience anywhere.  And no more proof is necessary to highlight this fact than the numerous entries in our first ever Sunrise/Sunset Facebook Photo Contest.  With such a large number of exceptional photos to consider, it was difficult to select four finalists!

Congratulations to our grand prize winner and recipient of a $100 Visa Gift Card and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel, Donna Cone.  Donna captured this moment from the shores of Ocean Isle Beach.  Donna’s vibrant sunrise shot received the most likes during the Facebook contest.  For Donna “there is no better time than rising early before others are out to catch a gorgeous ocean sunrise. Truly a spectacular sight.”

2 Donna DeBate Cone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilona Miskell’s “Sunset at the Dock” shot on Ocean Isle Beach in September received second place honors. Her entry of a tranquil marsh sunset earns her a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands rolling cooler and beach towel. Ilona told us that her son asked “Mom, don’t you think you have enough sunset pictures.”  She replied “Never!” She adds that “I feel like its a gift at the end of a splendid day.”

7 Ilona Miskell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Clemmons’ gorgeous shot of sunset captured from along the tide’s edge on Sunset Beach earns her third place honors and a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel and hat.

2 Kelly Heine Clemmons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shot on Sunset Beach, the wistful and artistic “Child’s Play at Sunset” submitted by Rochelle Aycoth rounds out our 4 top photos.  Rochelle believes “The Brunswick Islands offer the most unspoiled beaches around. The sunsets, especially heading into the fall, are particularly breathtaking.”  Rochelle will receive a North Carolina’s beach towel for her entry.

Rochelle Aycoth

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, congratulations to our four fabulous finalists!  And thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. Our random prize winner from all entrants is Stephanie Hogston, who wins a rolling cooler. Stephanie submitted a sunset shot from Oak Island.  Our random voter winner is Jeff Broughton who wins a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach towel.

On your next Brunswick Islands visit, be sure to bring your camera and capture those amazing sunrises and sunsets. Who knows, you might be the winner of our next contest.

 

Find Maritime Merriment Along North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

this holiday season, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands invites you to grab your family, hop in the car and pop in that Beach Boys Christmas album on your way to a coastal yuletide getaway. The holidays may be known for snow, sweaters and stockings, but that doesn’t mean your season can’t also be filled with sun, surf and sand.

While celebrating Christmas around palm trees, the ocean, and aquatic sea life might be unusual for many visitors, the locals of our islands know how to get into the holiday spirit even without the presence of snow. Let the locals be your guide as they bring on the Christmas cheer with an abundance of holiday festivities. Each of our islands and towns ring in the season with its own unique set of celebrations.

Oak Island awaIMG_9316 fb southportits the arrival of Little Saint Nick with the annual Christmas by the Sea Parade, held on the first Saturday in December. The parade travels 2.4 miles from Oak Island Town Hall to McGlamery Street. For a truly maritime take on a Christmas parade, the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla and Southport Christmas Flotilla illuminate the Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River with a parade of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes.

Historic Downtown Southport spreads the spirit of the season with Winterfest, a four-day Christmas celebration with a uniquely southern charm. Winterfest features a craft festival along with other exciting holiday events.

With so many events to choose from, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands caters to all ages and beckons you to escape the temptations of typical mainland festivities. This winter, shake up the season and make the coast a must-visit holiday destination!

For a complete list of our Christmas parades, tree lightings and other festivities, please visit the calendar of events.  And if you don’t make it to the Brunswick Islands for Christmas, it’s also a great place to unwind after the holidays and to ring in the new year!

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.

It’s Official: Southport is Coastal Living’s “America’s Happiest Seaside Town”

fans rallied and Coastal Living Magazine heard. The magazine has named the picturesque village of Southport, NC as “America’s Happiest Seaside Town for 2015.” It was the only town in the Carolinas nominated. Coastal Living features Southport as the No. 1 “Happiest Seaside Town” in the July/August issue of the magazine and online.

Coastal Living revealed the top 10 finalists for “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns” in its March issue. Voting was open until March 31, with Southport receiving the most online votes of the 10 finalists. Southport residents won the contest with a “get out the vote” in a big way.  They created a whimsical and heartfelt YouTube video to make their case, encourage voting and to show how happy they are – as happy as those who enjoy Southport’s charms while on vacation.Southport BC043

Southport’s allure has already been recognized by Hollywood and the television industry, with more than 40 productions having filmed there, including the recent film “Safe Haven” and television series “Under the Dome.” Southport winning the crown as the No. 1 Happiest Seaside Town for 2015 comes as no surprise to both residents and visitors who have always known how special their beloved home and vacation spot is.

Southport is filled with breathtaking waterfront, beautiful 19th Century architecture, uniquely southern landscape and a wealth of history including stories of Native Americans, pirates and the Revolutionary War. With culture that runs as deep as its history, it is no wonder that residents and visitors of Southport are smiling.

Southport has beautiful B&Bs, inns, flagship chain hotels and other comfortable accommodations to make a week or weekend visit.  If you want to add a beach vacation, next-door Oak Island and Caswell Beach have miles of uncrowded, pet-friendly beaches with more than 60 public access points. Family-oriented attractions include the Oak Island Lighthouse, mini-golf, skate park, nature center, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps.  Did we mention golf,  fine and casual dining and ice cream shacks?