Only in NC’s Brunswick Islands Experiences

winter beach walk

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a beautiful and unique vacation destination. From spacious island beaches to quaint coastal towns to a wide range of fun activities, the Brunswick Islands are unlike any other. If you are looking for a place where you can go from ziplining to beaching to standing atop a historic lighthouse to savoring a fresh seafood dish in any one given trip, then this is the place for you.

Keep reading to discover just what makes the Brunswick Islands one of a kind:

1. Lighthouses

Fun Fact! NC’s Brunswick Islands is home to both the oldest AND the newest lighthouse in North Carolina! Built in 1817, Old Baldy has marked the mouth of the Cape Fear River for generations. Learn all about Bald Head Island’s rich maritime history with a tour of the Smith Island Museum of History and then climb the relic itself for a bird’s eye view of the island. After you visit Old Baldy, hop on the ferry and head over to Caswell Beach for a tour of the youngest lighthouse in the state, the Oak Island Lighthouse. Constructed in 1958, not only does the Oak Island Lighthouse stand as the newest lighthouse in North Carolina but it is also the only one with ship ladder steps going all the way to the top. Free top tours of the Oak Island Lighthouse are available year round, however it is asked that you make a reservation at least two weeks in advance.

Old Baldy and Oak Island Lighthouse

2. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox

A landmark dedicated to bridging together one traveler to the next, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox has long stood as a testament to human togetherness. Located on the far west end of Bird Island, about a mile and a half past the last Sunset Beach public access point, lies a secluded mailbox tucked between the dunes. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox invites adventurers to leave their thoughts within it’s journals for the next person to ponder. Be sure to come and cleanse your mind on your next trip to the Brunswick Islands.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

3. The Swamp Park

Ziplining, four wheeling, eco-touring: what do all these things have in common? You can do them all right here at The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach! For the daring, soar through the sky on a 10 line, three bridge zipline course or test your abilities on the 49 element aerial adventure course. And for those that might be height-impaired, you don’t have to miss out on the fun! The Swamp Park has recently opened a guided ATV adventure tour through the swamp that is guaranteed to be fun… and to get you muddy! Or you can take an educational swamp boat tour through the park and learn all about the eco-system it inhabits. No matter which adventure you choose, fun will be had by all at The Swamp Park!

Swamp Park

4. Sunrises and Sunsets

There is nothing like the sight of the first ray of sunshine peaking over the horizon or the last glance of a bright sky dissolving into the ocean at dusk. The sunrises and sunsets of NC’s Brunswick Islands are truly unbelievable and it is especially true from the fall to the spring. Due to the rotation of the earth and the east/west orientation of the Brunswick Islands, one can watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without ever moving their beach chair. It’s no wonder why this has been called one of the “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com.

sunrise

5. Calabash Seafood

Seafood might be a staple of many coastal communities, but here in the Brunswick Islands this is especially true. Not only are we home to some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in North Carolina but we are also home to the “Seafood Capital of the World,” Calabash, NC. Known for their signature style of lightly battered and fried seafood, Calabash has been serving up the best for generations.

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a one of a kind destination! With gorgeous  scenery, delicious dinning and a plethora of fun activities for the whole family, you will find yourself coming back time and time again. For more information and tips on planning your next trip, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

5 Reasons to Host a Beach Feast this Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

Everyone loves a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, but it is no secret that coordinating the annual feast can be one massive feat. This year step away from the pressure of holiday cooking and create new traditions with family and friends in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Replace the roasted turkey with fresh seafood and celebrate Thanksgiving at the beach. Families can switch up their travel plans with a little bit of sun, sand and surf to enjoy the ultimate Turkey Day getaway. From one-of-a kind experiences to remarkable waterfront dining, there are many reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving with all the trimmings in NC’s Brunswick Islands.

1. Giving Thanks for Nature’s Beauty

Occurring every fall, NC’s Brunswick Islands invites visitors to experience a unique, natural phenomenon that takes place on the coast. Due to a combination of the Earth’s rotation and the Brunswick Islands’ east-west orientation, the phenomenon allows beachgoers to experience the sunset and sunrise over the ocean without ever moving their beach chairs. With fall in full swing, there is no better time to witness an awe-inspiring sunrise in the morning and absorb the last glimpse of daylight as the sun sets into the vibrant horizon.

sunrise

2. Spacious Beaches for the Whole Family

With the whole family gathered, you’ll need plenty of room on the beach for football and sandcastles. Trade in the changing foliage for changing tides and experience more beach for your blanket. The daytime temperatures in NC’s Brunswick Islands average in the high 60°s in November, so it is still mild enough for beaching. Visitors can enjoy building sandcastles, reeling in the catch of the day, searching for washed up shells or just sitting and relaxing on the beach, all without breaking a sweat. 

sunset beach

3. More House for More Family

Thanksgiving is all about bringing the whole family together! With NC’s Brunswick Islands being a great central location to many larger cities, this destination offers the perfect place for families to reconnect for the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of the best times to take advantage of the seasonally discounted rates on vacation rentals, inns and bed and breakfasts. Visitors can choose from a range of beachfront rental homes, ideal for families of all sizes, with spacious kitchens and plenty of room to celebrate the holiday with stunning coastal views.

vacation home

4. Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Don’t leave your dogs at home this holiday! Dogs love the feel of sand on their paws and the joy of splashing around in the waves just as much as humans do. Luckily, during the fall and winter months, Brunswick Islands’ beaches have relaxed leash laws. Visitors can book a special pet-friendly rental home, so their furry friends can tag along and enjoy the holiday by their side. Who’s going to eat the left-over table scraps, anyways? Although the pet regulations are more relaxed during the fall and winter, the rules do vary based on the beach. Be sure to check the applicable regulations before heading to the waves to assure yourself, and others, the best beach experience possible.

dog

5. Have a Beach Feast You’ll Never Forget

For those looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast without the stress of cooking, you’ll find a range of unique restaurants in NC’s Brunswick Islands. From traditional Calabash-style seafood to international dishes and casual American fare, there are numerous restaurants around the area that will please everyone in the family’s palate. Rather than slaving over a hot stove this fall, indulge in delicious local meals bursting with flavor while you take in picturesque waterfront vistas. You don’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite Thanksgiving dishes! Several restaurants in the area, including The Boundary House and Ports of Call, will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. And if you want to ditch the cooking but still enjoy a night in, you can pick up your feast from The View at Brick Landing Plantation, Hickory Shaft Bistro, The Purple Onion Café or Causeway Gourmet.

From sunrise to sunset, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful when visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this holiday season. For more information on what to do, where to stay and how to plan your trip to the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

How to Plan the Ultimate Guys Getaway to NC’s Brunswick Islands

Top Golf Holes

Weekend getaways don’t have to be just for the girls; reconnect with your guy friends over beers, beaches and birdies in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! With more than 45 miles of pristine beaches, NC’s Brunswick Islands offers the perfect atmosphere for connecting with your guys over the great outdoors, adventurous activities and coastal libations. Whether you’re planning a fun bachelor party, in need for a memorable weekend with your buddies or just looking for a great father and son getaway, check out some of our suggestions for creating the ultimate “mancation” to the Brunswick Islands.

Reel in the Catch of the Day

NC’s Brunswick Islands is home to some “fin-tastic” fishing spots and has a wide variety of experiences to help you catch all types of fish. From surf fishing right off the beach to casting your line from a scenic fishing pier to booking a trip with a local fishing charter, there are many ways to reel in the catch in the Brunswick Islands. If you favor a less-crowded area, you will find plenty of elbow room for surf fishing on the spacious beaches of our five barrier islands. Or, you and your buddies can try casting a line from one of our five ocean piers: The Oak Island Pier, Ocean Crest Pier, Holden Beach Pier, Ocean Isle Beach Pier or the Sunset Beach Pier. Many of the fishing piers are equipped with concessions and bait and tackle shops. For those groups of guys looking to get out on the water, fishing charters are a popular choice and are offered by many local, seasoned professionals. Depending on the time of year and where you cast your line, popular fishing finds include flounder, speckled trout, red drum, bluefish, cobia, king mackerel, wahoo, grouper, mahi-mahi, and tuna. The Brunswick Islands are a can’t miss destination for any fishing fanatic!

Brunswick Islands fishing

Tee Up Your Trip

Put your guys getaway into full swing and choose from 567 holes of golfing paradise in North Carolina’s Golf Coast. From courses for highly skilled enthusiasts to beginners alike, the 30 plus championship courses feature designs with various terrains, so visitors can refine their drive. Designed by esteemed golf architects such as Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Fred Couples, Dan Maples, Willard Byrd, Tim Cate and Rick Robbins, the golf courses in the Brunswick Islands provide a wide range of backdrops from marshes and maritime forests to lakes, streams, beaches and the Intracoastal Waterway. Many courses and area accommodations also offer packages and specials, so you don’t have to break the budget during your guys getaway.

Father and son golfing

Soar Through the Canopies

If you are an adrenaline junkie, experience the best views from all new perspectives at The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. Soar through the trees on a 10-line, three bridge zipline tour or test your abilities on the 49 element aerial adventure park. For adventurers looking to stay closer to the ground, explore the pristine forest along the Shallotte River Swamp and learn about the ecological benefits of the swamp habitat on an ATV Tour. Other attractions offered at The Swamp Park are an informative 50-minute boat ride through the swamp where you can relax and enjoy the wildlife and a reptile sanctuary that is home to many creatures including American alligators and large turtles.

ocean isle beach

Kick Back with a Cold One 

Whether you are a craft beer aficionado or new to the local libation scene, the breweries in NC’s Brunswick Islands are creating special beers that are sure to help you relax, recharge and celebrate during your guys getaway. Grab a brew at 34° North Experiment Station in Shallotte, where you can sip on refreshing beers created through a wild, spontaneous fermentation process. You won’t want to miss their popular Grapefruit SPF 50/50 brewed with a blend of IPA and sparkling grapefruit soda. Hang ten at Makai Brewing Company in Ocean Isle Beach, a Hawaiian themed brewery, that serves an ever-changing menu of craft beer brewed in house. A local favorite is the Nightingale, a coffee porter brewed with Kona Coffee beans. Quench your thirst with tastings of local award-winning wines and rotating taps of craft beer at Silver Coast Winery Tasting and Taproom in Southport. For the extreme craft beer connoisseurs, head over to Tap Time Taproom in Ocean Isle Beach or Coastal Craft Beverage Co. in Calabash where you can sample a variety of different brews from stouts, porters, IPAs, lagers and ales made from many North Carolina breweries.

guys

Plan the guys getaway your buddies will talk about for years! For more information on what to do and where to stay in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

A Fresh Look at Calabash

Shrimp boats bring fresh seafood to the Calabash waterfront

Outstanding food, beautiful views, and a rich history lead to a memorable dining experience and few places can match Calabash in these attributes, especially for seafood lovers.

For generations, visitors to the Brunswick Islands and surrounding counties have made the trek to Calabash for its world renowned seafood. At first, local fishermen and their families served up fresh seafood straight from the boat right on the banks of the Calabash River. Then in the 1930s, these families opened restaurants near the waterfront serving uniquely delicious, lightly breaded fried seafood. This style of cooking became known as Calabash-style seafood and led to the sleepy fishing village earning the nickname “Seafood Capital of the World.” Other restaurants have tried to imitate the Calabash-style of preparing seafood, but nothing compares to enjoying authentic Calabash seafood where it all originated.

calabash seafood

Even today, shrimp boats still call the Calabash waterfront their home and their daily catch can be purchased fresh from the boats right on the docks. These days, the shrimp boats are joined by fishing charters and head boats providing half day and full day fishing excursions. Not a fisherman? Try a two hour dolphin cruise or a sunset cruise that will delight the whole family! Or simply take in the quiet beauty of a walk on the docks after a perfect meal of shrimp, clams, oysters, fish or scallops. And if you’re there in the early morning or in the evening you’ll be amazed at how the shrimp boat captains deftly maneuver the large boats along side the docks.

Delight Your Taste Buds

Whether you are a tried and true Calabash traditionalist or looking for a contemporary variation, longstanding and new restaurants abound with seafood choices. From a classic Calabash fried seafood platter to signature oyster dishes to the catch of the day served fried, broiled, blackened or sauteed, you’ll be sure to find a dish to dazzle your taste buds along with a friendly atmosphere. Whether you choose a restaurant with a waterfront view or one located “up the hill”, you can’t go wrong. The restaurants of Calabash routinely make the lists of must visit seafood establishments in publications such as Southern Living and Coastal Living. Be sure that Beck’s RestaurantThe Boundary House, Calabash Seafood HutCapt. John’s Seafood HouseCaptain Nance’s SeafoodDockside Seafood HouseElla’s of Calabash, The Oyster Rock or Waterfront Seafood Shack is on your dining list.

Enjoy Calabash seafood with waterfront views

Non-Seafood Offerings

For visitors looking for alternative dining options, Calabash has something that will please every palate! Calabash Gourmet & Sushi Bar offers fresh sushi and sizzling Mongolian fare. Grapevine Restaurant serves up pastas, salads, and seafood with a Mediterranean flair. MMM Que Rico brings the tastes of Peru and Argentina to Calabash. There’s also places serving deli favorites, pizza, southern fare, bagels, hot dogs, burgers and more. If you are in the mood for something sweet, try the delicious ice cream flavors at Calabash Creamery. Its Cow-a-Bash Crunch ice cream was included by USA Today in its list of “50 irresistible ice cream flavors.” Then once you’ve completed your culinary adventure through Calabash, grab a brew at the craft beer bottle shop, Coastal Craft Beverage Co.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area, and if Calabash isn’t on your foodie radar yet, it should be. To explore all of the dining options in Calabash or to plan your trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

5 Outstanding Oyster Dishes in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

oyster

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… oysters! Oyster season is upon us here in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Serving up classic dishes like Oysters Rockefeller to steamer pots big enough for the whole family, there isn’t a better place to kick off oyster season than in the Brunswick Islands!

From upscale waterfront restaurants to casual, family-friendly eateries to a major festival dedicated to these yummy mollusks, the options for oysters in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are endless!

Check out these five outstanding oyster dishes found in the Brunswick Islands:

1. Pit Roasted Oysters – The Oyster Rock, Calabash

The Oyster Rock is known for many things but most notably is their oysters – I mean it is in the name! They offer a variety of oyster dishes but one of their most popular entrees is the Pit Roasted Oysters. Cooked over a custom outdoor pit, these oysters are served up plump, juicy and piping hot, ready to eat! As an added bonus The Oyster Rock is located on the banks of the Calabash River and has a beautiful outdoor seating section perfect for watching the fishing boats come in.

If you prefer your oysters fried, then stick around Calabash for some authentic Calabash seafood! This unique style of seafood comes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Get your seafood prepared Calabash style whether it be oysters, shrimp, flounder, scallops or the catch of the day!

2. Steamer’s Pot – Castaways Raw Bar and Grill, Holden Beach

Head on over to Castaways Raw Bar and Grill in Holden Beach for your next oyster feast! This local hot spot is home to many unique, mouthwatering dishes but none more so than the Steamer’s Pot. Made to share, this southern staple consists of oysters, crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, sausages and red potatoes, all steamed together in a pot with Old Bay and herbs. Or, if you want a cooler option try the Seafood Tower! Served on ice, the Seafood Tower is built with little neck clams, mussels, peel-n-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell and a half pound of crab legs.

3. Oysters Rockefeller – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille, Ocean Isle Beach

Located on the Ocean Isle Beach Intracoastal Waterway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Nothing can beat the view of a sunset from their outdoor deck, except maybe their food! Jinks Creek serves up a variety of oyster dishes, but if you are looking for a coastal classic then try the Oysters Rockefeller- freshly shucked local oysters topped with pernod cream, chopped farm greens and bacon, oven broiled and served at the perfect steaming temperature!

4. Oyster Toppings – Moore Street Oyster Bar, Southport

Located in what was a 19th century pharmacy in downtown Southport, the Moore Street Oyster Bar has been beautifully transformed into a lively, family-friendly restaurant. Depending on the season, Moore Street Oyster Bar offers a rotating variety of oysters brought in from all over the east coast. Once your oysters are picked then comes the difficult part… choosing the toppings! Moore Street Oyster Bar has six hot oyster dish toppings to choose from and three cold options. And for the oyster lovers 21 and over in the group, try a Moore Street Oyster Bar specialty… The Oyster Shooter! This shooter combines Tito’s Vodka, lemon horseradish ice, house-made hot sauce and a raw oyster! This is one oyster stop you won’t want to skip.

5. Beginner vs Pro Oyster Baskets – Swain Seafood Shack, Oak Island

As the largest of Brunswick County’s barrier islands, Oak Island is home to many incredible dinning options, but one restaurant that comes to mind is the Swain Seafood Shack. With oyster baskets designed for the eager and the hungry, this is the family oyster lovers paradise! The Beginner Baskets serve up 6-7 ounces of fried oysters along side homemade shack chips, hush puppies and coleslaw, where as the Pro Baskets come with a hearty helping of 9-10 ounces of delicious fried oysters!

oysters

From classically coastal dishes to pit roasted oysters to uniquely topped oysters on the half shell, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is serving up the best raw, steamed and fried oysters around! Not convinced? Well then check out the 39th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival in Ocean Isle Beach on October 19 – 20! This event features live entertainment, an arts and crafts show and a variety of delicious food options, including all the oysters you can eat. And for a little healthy competition, check out the oyster shucking contest, oyster eating contest or the oyster stew cook-off.

For more information on dinning, events and more in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.