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.

 

Spring Break Road Trip: Top 5 Reasons NC’s Brunswick Islands is Guaranteed to Put Some Spring in your Step!

by the time Spring Break rolls around, most of us are suffering from a serious case of Spring Fever and are more than ready to Get. Out. Side!

It is also a perfect time for families, who maybe haven’t seen each other since the Holidays, to reconnect.  If you had to pick a central Spring Break gathering point for relatives spread up and down the east coast, and let’s not forget that uncle in Ohio, you couldn’t do better than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands!    Centrally located on the East Coast, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are an easy, almost equidistant drive from population power houses Washington, DC (6 h 37 min) and Atlanta, GA (6 h 1 min).  Ohio clocks in at 9.5 hours, which doesn’t deter folks as every Spring and Summer, SUVs sporting OH plates peak out beneath the beach houses.

Now that you know how easy it is to get here, take a look at these wonderful ways to spend your NC beach vacation once you’ve arrived!

  1. Uncrowded Beaches

DSC_8627_RetouchedForty-five miles of uncrowded beaches on 5 barrier islands await vacationers at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  There’s plenty of room to roam and spread out. While the kids splash around, bask in the sun and crack open that book you’ve been dying to read. Without the commercialism of typical spring break destinations, it is so much easier to truly relax and unwind. You won’t find the partiers or view-blocking high rise hotels here. Instead, enjoy pristine sand and natural rolling dunes for miles and miles.

       2. Outdoor Adventure

Swamp Park IMG_9365Bring out your wild side and experience new adventures. Zip through untouched swamp land at Ocean Isle’s new Shallotte River Swamp Park, which features a sustainable zipline course that navigates through a 300-year-old swamp and cypress canopy. Enjoy water-based action in the ocean, rivers and Intracoastal Waterway including canoeing, kayaking, wind sailing, paddle boarding, surfing and fishing. For those who prefer to stay grounded, enjoy a slow-paced stroll down one of the many piers or beaches, or explore the many parks and nature preserves our area has to offer.

  1. History & Museums

DSC_6132_LIGHTHOUSE COUPLECulture and history buffs alike will have plenty to keep their minds sharp this spring break. The state’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, on Bald Head Island has stood over North Carolina’s coast for hundreds of years.  Oak Island Lighthouse on Caswell Beach was once the brightest lighthouse in the country. Now, both lighthouses are landmarks beckoning visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top. This spring, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Coastal Carolina, the Southeast’s largest dry aquarium; or the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which gives families insight into tales of pirates and pillage, blockade running, riverfront archaeology, and other nautical adventures. The fun doesn’t stop there, as our islands offer an abundance of museums and historic sites to explore!

  1. Live Like a Local

Oak Island Vacation Rental HomeDive into the rich and relaxing culture of island life by renting a house for the week and enjoy the perks of being able to walk out the front door and onto the beach. Later, enjoy dinner by sampling the local flavors of the coastal area. Our local fishermen harvest a variety of top-quality seafood, including shrimp, blue crabs, grouper, flounder, oysters and clams. In addition, our picturesque Southern small towns offer family-owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries and shops to make the area one of the best North Carolina vacation destinations.

  1. Spring and Easter Events

The Spring Art Show kicks off the season on March 1 and runs through March 20 in Southport with paintings, pottery and more by local and other NC artists.  Over Easter Weekend, egg hunts and Easter events will keep you hopping from one end of the Brunswick Islands to the other. Then, in April, celebrate parrot-head-style at Phlock to the Beach with a weekend of Jimmy Buffett inspired high spirited fun and the Oak Island Lighthouse 5K, 10K & Half Marathon.  At the end of April, Days at the Docks features food, fun, arts and music on Holden Beach.

10 Tips for a Carefree Beach Vacation

make your beach vacation even more fun and carefree this year with these 10 tips:

 

Focus on the Here and Now

Leave the phone in your room or at least put the phone aside for awhile. Spending some time away from social media and technology can set the tone for a calming, carefree beach vacation. Focus your attention on being in the moment, reconnecting with loved ones, and enjoying the natural beauty of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Don’t Over-Book Yourself

DSC_8026_OAK ISLAND_CHAIRSVacations are about you and your fellow sojourners. Be sure to leave space in your schedule, entire days even, to wake up, feel the crisp ocean breeze caress your face and let the wind be your guide. Being married to an itinerary has its benefits, but that relationship can quickly become a burden. Hang loose, go with the flow and make North Carolina’s Brunswick Island’s your home away from home.

Connect with the Family

Be sure to plan activities that are memorable for the entire family. Strengthen the bond between your loved ones by using vacation time as not just a distraction for you and your children, but also as a means to grow closer as a family. Activities such as watching baby sea turtles hatch, taking a swamp boat eco-tour, enjoying a boat or ferry ride in the Intercoastal Waterway, or taking a dolphin adventure cruise provide families with the perfect combination of education and fun for all ages. Bring the family together and learn something new too!

Eat Fresh, Eat Local

IMG_0028_fb_edited-1Stressing about your vacation diet (or lack thereof)? You are not alone. Reduce appetite anxiety by eating fresh and local. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has long been known for it’s bountiful seafood.  A highlight to any visit is sampling the local flavors so recognizable to the coastal area. Our local fishermen harvest a variety of top-quality seafood, including shrimp, blue crabs, grouper, flounder, oysters and clams. Many visitors take advantage of the opportunity to not only select and prepare their own seafood during their stay, but also return home with these fresh delicacies from the sea. For information on local seafood retailers and wholesalers, visit here.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

DSC_0140_OIB Paddlebaord_LRThe signature of a beach holiday may be top-notch R&R, but that doesn’t mean vacationers shouldn’t venture out of their beach chair. Break the mold and instill a little adventure into your next seashore soiree. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands offers a buffet of bold activities that challenge you to try something new such as charter fishing, SUP and surf lessons, scuba diving, zip lining through natural swamp habitat and more.

Don’t Stress Over Packing

For some vacationers, stress can stir before wheels even hit the pavement. The worry over items potentially forgotten or left behind can consume the journey and create an anxious ambiance. The North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands traveler knows to ditch these woes and takes comfort in the abundance of stores and business housed on each island and surrounding mainland. Anything you could need and more can be found at any one of the area’s many shops.

Have a Rain Plan

DSC_0010_OIB_Touch Tank_LRIn every life a little rain must fall. And sometimes that happens while you’re on vacation. Reduce stress and anxiety by having a rain plan ready in case wet weather decides to visit the beach with you. Guests of the Brunswick Islands can find indoor entertainment at a number of intriguing attractions such as the NC Maritime Museum at Southport, Museum of Coastal CarolinaOld Brunswick County Jail MuseumSilver Coast Winery and more. Research opportunities ahead of time to ease your weather woes by guaranteeing a 100 percent chance of fun.

Enjoy The Off-Season

The heat of summer is a hot time to take a trip to the beach, but milder temperatures and fewer people during the spring and fall are also enticing to those looking for a secluded adventure on the beach. For a heightened sense of having the beach to yourself, book your trip before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.  You and your family and friends and can also take advantage of off-season rates during that time.

Feed Your Soul

10299079_10152150216753155_1534309948012022730_nOn your next trip to the beach, make an effort to indulge your soul by seeking out activities that are true to your spirit. Whether you attend an outdoor religious service, watch the sunrise over the ocean, or take a long walk along the beach, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands provides countless opportunities for beach-goers to please their personalities. Relaxation doesn’t merely involve sitting still, but also rejuvenating the soul and getting in touch with who you are.

Keep It Simple

Central to a carefree beach vacation is a commitment to keeping things simple – walks on the beach, eating ice cream or hunting for seashells. The beauty of a beach vacation is in the natural setting’s mystical way of creating an environment brimming with charm and subtle treasures. The seemingly simple days can be the most stunning and leave you with lasting memories and nothing but love for sun and sand.