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 Experiences for Your Brunswick Islands Bucket List

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.