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.

 

Health, Happiness and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands: #BrunswickIslandsFIT

although the food is plentiful and bathing in the warm sun is tempting, going on vacation doesn’t mean sacrificing your health goals for a period of time. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has an abundance of activities that are educational, family-friendly and perfect for boosting your activity tracker goals at the same time. Below are a few activities if you’re looking to increase your step count and even boost your heart rate on your next beach vacation.

IMG_6444 b_edited-1A stay here offers a variety of water sports and exhilarating experiences that can get your heart pumping. Go scuba diving with a certified instructor off the Cape Fear’s Frying Pan Shoals with Scuba South Diving Company in Southport. Or go on a kayaking adventure with Lighthouse WaterSports, The Adventure Kayak Company or Summertide Adventure Tours. These guided tours will take explorers on an adventure around the blackwater creeks, marshes, Intracoastal Waterway or swamps, while also providing a great arm and shoulder exercise.

Stoked about surfing but never had the chance to paddle out and pound some waves? Our islands provide visitors with an astounding buffet of aquatic adventures appealing to both beginners and experienced water-goers. Check out three surf schools with programs dedicated to teaching interested patrons of all ages the surfing basics. Not only is surfing a fun activity for beach-goers, it also provides great balance and lower-body strength training.

Swamp Park IMG_9365For a new and unique activity at the beach, don’t forget to zip into the Shallotte River Swamp Park & Outdoor Center in Ocean Isle Beach. 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. This unique challenge is guaranteed to increase your step count and get your heart racing!

Activity doesn’t always mean you have to hustle and exert yourself. People looking for a more leisurely activity can enjoy many of the rental services available on the islands. Anything from bikes and stand-up paddle boards to beach supplies are available for visitor use. Relish your time and take in the sights at your own pace. If biking or paddling isn’t your style, take a relaxing walk on the beach with a friend or significant other, spot a rare species of bird along the Brunswick Islands Birding Trail or take your pup for a jog along the shore.

DSC_6149_INSIDE LIGHTHOUSEWhether you’re set on admiring the sunrises or sunsets, driving your way through more than 30 championship golf courses or climbing 131 ships’ ladders to the Oak Island Lighthouse to see a gorgeous panoramic view, you’re sure to end your vacation feeling happy and healthy while increasing your activity tracker goals at the same time.

How many steps did you take on your trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands? #BrunswickIslandsFIT

 

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.

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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.

 

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.