Fall in Love with Nature in the Brunswick Islands

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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

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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

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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.

Experience Marsh Madness in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

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as spring rounds the corner, and everyone is caught up in the madness happening on the basketball court, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beckons both new and returning visitors to look for exciting activities and hidden treasures nestled within the Brunswick Islands. Here, you are the coach. Get off the bench and get involved in Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!

Kayak Through the Marsh

Go on a guided kayak tour through the marshes and waterways around the Brunswick Islands and check out the wildlife that calls the marsh home.  Take a trip to Bird Island, venture down the Intracoastal Waterway, or take a twilight tour to watch the sunset over the marsh.  Excursions are available for all experience levels and ages – including first timers – and guides provide a wealth of knowledge about local wildlife and history.  Or rent a kayak and head out on your own.

DSC_0126_OIB Paddleboard_LRPaddle Your Way to Adventure

Visitors can also try their hand at stand-up paddle boarding. Take a break from the waves and paddle the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks or island canals. Outfitters will deliver and pick up any rentals directly to your condo or beach house. If you are new to the sport, sign up to take a lesson.

Catch a Meal

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a top hot spot for salt and freshwater fishing on the East Coast. Depending on the season, fishermen can find red drum, black drum, specked trout, sheepshead, flounder, redfish, shrimp and mullet in the marshes. You can also try your hand at a favorite family activity and go crabbing off a canal or waterway dock.

Spot a Bird

IMG_6999 largeFor bird enthusiasts, or visitors simply seeking to soak in nature’s bounty, the marshes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are home to a multitude of bird species. Common sightings include great blue heron, little blue heron, green heron, great egrets, snowy egrets, clapper rail, white ibis, American oyster catchers and many more. There are eight sites in Brunswick County included in the North Carolina Birding Trail perfect for spotting the 330 bird species known to inhabit the various Brunswick County ecosystems.

Beat the buzzer, and don’t miss Marsh Madness at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

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

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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

 

10 Experiences for Your Brunswick Islands Bucket List

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north Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers more than just gorgeous beaches, lovely towns and beautiful coastal scenery. Here is a bucket list of ten fun activities that all visitors should do during their stay.

1. Leave a note in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Standing slightly tilted in the shifting sand of undeveloped Bird Island and far down the beach from the nearest public access point, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox draws visitors who want to write their thoughts, prayers, dreams and wishes in the mailbox’s small notebooks. These words are then left there for the next kindred spirit to find and read.

2. Visit the old Sunset Beach Swing Bridge and MuseumIMG_1076

The old wooden Sunset Beach Swing Bridge spanned the Intracoastal Waterway between Sunset Beach and the mainland from 1958-2011 before it was decommissioned and a portion placed on the mainland. The Bridge Tender’s House now serves as a museum and contains artifacts from the a ship called the Vesta, which was set on fire and sunk during the Civil War after attempting to run a northern blockade.

3. Zip Line through a Swamp

Guests to the new Shallotte River Swamp Park & Outdoor Center can 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. Those who want to stay closer to the ground can set out on a swamp boat eco tour to see the local wildlife and help trap crawdads, fish, turtles and frogs and see where George Washington is believed to have crossed through the area in 1791. The park is set to open in June.

4. Fish oDSC_0167_OIB_Boy Fishing_LRff a Pier

Large fish are known to lurk around piers, and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has several piers perfect for reeling in the catch-of-the-day: Ocean Isle Pier, Oak Island Pier, Ocean Crest Pier, Holden Beach PierSunset Beach Pier and Southport Pier.

5. Climb the Oak Island Lighthouse

The Oak Island Lighthouse, built in 1958, is the newest lighthouse in North Carolina, and visitors must climb a series of ship ladders with 131 rungs to reach the top balcony instead of the traditional spiral staircase. Tours can be made by appointment.

6. Kayak on the Intracoastal Waterway

While the beauty of the beaches is the big draw, others prefer the mystery, serenity and solitude of the marshes of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The colorful marshes meander and curl, hiding secrets and treasures of the coast. A kayak journey through these quiet tributaries reveals birding, photography, fishing, star and moon gazing opportunities. Rent a kayak or put in your own on the Intracoastal Waterway and float along with the gentle current amidst the beautiful coastal ecosystem and deltas.

7. SUP or Skim

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a growing trend among beachgoers, who stand on top of a surfboard-shaped board and propel themselves through the water with a long-handled paddle.  Those who want to stay closer to shore can try their hand at skim boarding, which involves balancing on a thin wooden board thrown across the inch or so of water that climbs up the shore after a wave breaks.

8. Live like a Local

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers guests the feeling of small town beach life at its finest. Friendly people, quaint buildings and great food are sure to make visitors feel like theIMG_0028_fb_edited-1y have found their home away from home. Rent a beach house this summer on Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Holden BeachOcean Isle Beach, or Bald Head Island, visit the local fish market for some local seafood and cook up your own authentic beach party meal just like a local would.

9. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset

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

10. Witness a Turtle Hatching

Hatchling There is probably no experience more unforgettable and powerful than watching baby sea turtles “boiling” out of the nest and racing to the water line. Sea turtle conservation is conducted across North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For example, Ocean Isle Beach’s Sea Turtle Protection Program cares for these gentle giants of the sea, telling their primitive story of mating, nesting, and hatching that has remained essentially unchanged for 200 million years. Headquartered at Museum of Coastal Carolina, the certified program swings into high gear during nesting and hatching season from May through October.Visit oibseaturtles.orgsunsetbeachturtles.org   hbturtlewatch.org,  caswellturtlewatch.org,   bhic.org/sea-turtle-protection-program, and oakislandnc.com/Departments/Parks-Recreation/Sea-Turtle-Program for more information.  View a video of a turtle hatching here.