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 three 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. Or walk right off the beach and get your ice cream with an oceanfront view at Haley’s Ice Cream Store. 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, Lil and John’s Sweetreat 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, 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 in NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Updated June 9, 2017

Bird Is The Word!

In both spring and summer, and especially at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, bird is indeed the word. The five barrier islands that make up NC’s Brunswick Islands encompass a large network of bird sanctuaries. From the southernmost barrier island, where Sunset Beach stretches southwest to the protected nature preserve of Bird Island, to the community of Southport and the offshore rookeries on Battery Island, there is no shortage of incredible birding experiences in this area.

white ibis

 

The White Ibis is one of the most visible and prolific species with their bright white plumage that contrast against a summer-blue sky and green foliage. According to an article featured by The National Audubon Society, nearly 10 percent of the North American population of White Ibis are supported by the six-acre Battery Island, with more than 5,000 nesting pairs documented in 2012. This tiny spit of land, located just a stone’s throw off Southport’s waterfront promenade, is also home for other wading, shore and song birds. These find refuge in the island’s scrubby shrubs and trees making it the state’s largest wading bird colony and a sanctuary protected by Audubon.

young great blue heron smallIn addition, the more than 45 miles of undeveloped and under-developed shoreline and the pristine estuaries and salt marshes on the islands’ flip-side shelter and sustain a wide variety of wading birds and shorebirds during nesting season.  American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, Plovers, Ibis, Egrets, and Herons are among the spring/summertime and year-round residents whose babies hatch here and start the next feathered generation.

Those of us who live here in the pristine coastal communities and barrier islands of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands understand perfectly why these birds choose to return here year after year to nest!

IMG_8855 bThese uncrowded beaches attract plenty of birders and beachgoers too, and while the birds and their fledglings are an amazing site, Audubon provides the following tips to help us protect our nesting shorebirds.  By taking small simple actions to help protect their nesting habitat, you can help them raise the next generation.

Audubon’s Tips to Share the Beach

Respect protected areas and signs. Birds, eggs, nests and chicks are well-camouflaged. Disturbance by people and their pets can cause birds to abandon their eggs and young.

Avoid disturbing groups of birds that are nesting or feeding. If the birds take flight, call loudly, or act agitated, it means you are too close.

Always keep your dog on a leash and away from the birds. Shorebirds perceive people and pets as predators.

Please don’t leave trash or fishing line on the beach. Take your trash with you and place in an appropriate trash container. Trash attracts real predators such as gulls, crows, raccoons and foxes. Fishing line can entangle and kill birds.

Let Southport’s Yacht Basin Reel You In For Great Waterfront Dining!

Southport’s Yacht Basin is located where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean meet; it’s also where an amazing convergence of waterfront dining options lure diners to experience local seafood, trend setting restaurants, seafood dives and quaint coastal-village charm.  This area in what was once a fishing industry town, connects firmly to Southport’s sea-faring history with a slew of restaurants now lining the docks.   Any of the decks, patios and outdoor dining options are perfect for watching for dolphins, sunsets and passing boats. What’s more, plenty of waterside “parking” means you can boat right up to dinner!

DSC_1482The eye-catching aqua exterior of Fishy Fishy Café hints at the Caribbean influenced fare of this favorite hot-spot!  Dine outside or in on specialties like Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp, Fish N Chips, Asian Tuna, or Blackened Salmon.  Live music makes for a great night out, and the bartenders can mix up a cool cocktail!  If Fishy Fishy looks familiar, fans of the guilty-pleasure TV series Revenge may recognize it as the setting for the bar where Jack worked!

A short stroll will take you to Yacht Basin Eatery.  A to-die-for view of the water and passing boats along with a wide selection of fresh seafood to burgers, sandwiches and salads, make this a favorite.  Dine on blackened grouper, Lobster Ravioli or Linguine with Red or White Clam Sauce while enjoying live music and a specialty drink from the extensive bar menu for a great night out!

DSC_1564Next door you’ll find Yacht Basin Provision Company, named #1 Seafood Dive in NC in the Spring of 2012 by Coastal Living magazine.  There’s always a line at the door as folks queue up for a menu featuring sandwiches from grilled yellowfin tuna to grouper salad to hamburgers and hot dogs as well as salads and sides.  Conch fritters and steamed shrimp are featured alongside daily specials, and cold beer is serve-yourself, straight out of the cooler on the honor system!  Does it get any better?  All seating is outdoors and offers prime views of the sunset and passing boats.

Sitting high atop pilings where the road meets the Cape Fear River, The Frying Pan offers a commanding view of the river and Bald Head Island.  From this lofty perch, fresh and local favorites such as sweet potato biscuits, pan seared seafood, a variety of fried seafood specialties, and mouth-watering homemade desserts are served up with spectacular waterfront views. Interesting fact, while its moniker certainly hints at a cooking style, the restaurant also pays homage to Frying Pan Shoals, a long, shifting area of rocky shoals just off the coast and nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, as the area is littered with shipwrecks.

Flava Decorations 1And, what waterfront dining experience would be complete without a stop at an ice cream parlor? The tagline for Flava’s Ice Cream is “more flavors, more fun,” and with homemade brownies and cookies complementing custom and tried and true ice cream flavors, it’s the perfect after-dinner stop.  And, you can pick up the obligatory t-shirt, too!

Visit here to see  a list of additional great dining options in Southport and the rest of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

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.