Top Spots to Catch Breathtaking Sunrises and Sunsets in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Boasting more than 45 miles of unspoiled beaches, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the ultimate beach getaway destination. Few natural phenomena give Brunswick Islands beachgoers a better sense of place than watching the sun paint the sky in signature hues of orange, pink and purple over the ocean or the area’s waterways at sunrise and sunset. Our charming coastal towns and beach communities offer countless ways to witness spectacular sunrises and sunsets during your stay, but check out our suggestions of great spots for scoring a seat to the sun’s daily feat.

On the Beach

No matter what time of year you come to the Brunswick Islands, prepare to be wowed. Not only do the pristine sand and surf create a peaceful atmosphere for sunrise and sunset chasers, but in the fall and winter the uniquely south facing beaches in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands provide a remarkable sunrise/sunset viewing experience. Named one of “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com, beginning in late fall, the east-west orientation of the Brunswick Islands means that you can sit on the beach and watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean without having to move your beach chair!

Sunrise on Oak Island

Ocean Piers

Few settings offer a classic beach feel like an oceanfront pier. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to five ocean piers, perfect for both starting and ending your day with a front row seat to the sun’s daily pilgrimage across the sky. Ocean pier viewing spots include:

Sunrise Sunset Beach Pier

Seize the Sunset by the Waterway

The stunning Brunswick Islands sunsets can also be seen off-shore with serene sunset kayak trips in the area’s marshes and waterways. Individual kayak rentals and guided tours are available to give visitors the equipment and expertise they need to observe some of the best views of the Brunswick Islands. To make an even bigger splash, boat rentals and sunset cruises are a sure way to enjoy beautiful scenic views.

Dinner and a Show

Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? A nature show that is! In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands there is an impressive array of waterfront dining options that are guaranteed to not only serve up tasty coastal cuisine, but also a stunning view of the sun making its daily descent. One great spot to grab a bite and watch the summer sun set over the marsh is Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille. Located on Jinks Creek on the Intracoastal Waterway side of Ocean Isle Beach, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille offers great seafood dishes as well as an amazing view.  Another local hotspot for scrumptious food and scenic views is the Yacht Basin in Southport. With restaurants like the Provision Company, Fishy Fishy Cafe and the Yacht Basin Eatery, it has some of the best outdoor waterfront dining in Southport. Lucky diners may even score a little live music to accompany their dinner and nature show. For more wonderful waterfront dining spots throughout Brunswick Islands, please visit blog.ncbrunswick.com/waterfront-dining-ncs-brunswick-islands/.

Southport Sunset

The Point at Oak Island

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is full of quiet stretches of beach that almost seem like you are on your own private island. The western tip of Oak Island, at the inlet that separates Oak Island from Holden Beach, is just one example. Affectionately known as The Point, this section of beach offers unique sunrise and sunset views over both land and sea. Like many of our pristine beaches, The Point is a tranquil spot for enjoying nature and quality time with family and loved ones.

Other Favorite Spots

There are so many places to find breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in the Brunswick Islands that it can be hard to choose. To make the decision a little harder here are some other amazing viewing spots.

Sunset Holden Beach

We may all watch the same sunrise and sunset each day, but at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands the view is as grand as the ocean is wide. For more tips and tricks to planning your next spectacular beach vacation, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

This Beach Trip Has Gone to the Dogs!

For dog-lovers, a beach vacation without sandy paws and the sweet(ish?) smell of salty, wet dog is a beach vacation lacking. In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, our dog-friendly beaches couldn’t agree more.

Even the most timid of dogs tend to find joy in chasing the tide as it rolls in and out, biting the white caps of the waves close to shore, and running carefree along the expansive shoreline. Of course, one of the best parts of sharing a day at the beach with your fur baby is witnessing that unmistakable wet-dog shake. You know the one. It starts out at the tail with a distinctive swish, hits the hind end with a jerk, heads up the spine with an aggressive wiggle, and then ends in an epic shake of the head, ears and jowls (if you’re lucky enough to have a dog with jowls).

Ready to Take the Leap?

If you have not yet taken your dog for a beach trip, fall is a great time to do so. With lots of dog-friendly accommodations available and relaxed pet regulations on the beaches, the Brunswick Islands are the perfect seaside destination for your pup. But even the dog-friendliest of spots won’t save you from mishaps if you don’t plan ahead.

Prepare three things for a trip with your dog:

  1. Travel in the car
  2. A stay in a vacation home or hotel
  3. Time on the beach itself

With a little forethought, your beach visit will be as fun for you as it is for Fluffy.

dog-friendly SUPTravel in the Car

Probably more important than preparing your car for the ride to the beach is preparing your car for the ride home! Things to consider stowing in your trunk:

  • A blanket or seat cover for protecting seats from saltwater and sand
  • Several old towels for wiping Ginger down
  • Bottled water and a plastic bowl to quench thirst
  • A brush (doggy, not human)

Vacation Home Prep

Remember that your dog – like your family – is a guest in your vacation accommodations. He will most likely be excited, anxious or just plain curious! Prepare your surroundings with these tips:

  • Establish Fido’s food and water location as soon as you arrive.
  • Immediately leash your dog and take him outside to find a designated place to potty – take waste bags to clean up.
  • If you’re renting a vacation home, walk through the house, making sure anything your dog might get into or knock over is out of reach.
  • If you and Rex are staying in a hotel, check with the front desk to see where on the property it’s best to walk him.

dog with sunglassesTime on the Beach

You prep yourself with sunscreen, a hat and something to read. Max deserves the same. Don’t forget:

  • Keep your dog close to you at all times. Leash regulations may be relaxed during the fall, but you don’t want other beach-goers to be bothered by a searching wet nose.
  • Familiarize yourself with the beach regulations for the Brunswick Islands. All of the beaches welcome dogs in the fall, but the rules vary from beach to beach.
  • Watch your dog carefully in the water. Not all dogs are great swimmers, and even the best should not go into deep water where tidal pull can be strong.
  • Pack a dog toy or two to keep Charlie occupied.
  • Bring waste bags and pick up after your dog immediately if he poops on the sand. Make sure to dispose of the bags properly, leaving the beaches just as pristine for the next family and their four-legged friend.

For more information about North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, go to ncbrunswick.com.

2018 Brunswick Islands Landmarks Photo Contest Winners

insta winner

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is excited to announce the winners of the #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks photo contest! We invited you to share your best Brunswick Islands landmarks photographs on Instagram and Facebook using #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks and we were amazed at the breathtaking entries we received!

With over 175 entries, it was difficult to choose only a couple of winners from each platform, but we are happy to announce that we have chosen our favorite photos from the submissions for a first and second place winner on both platforms as well as two random drawing winners. These lucky winners will receive a variety of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands rolling coolers, beach towels and hats. Our first place winners will also receive a $100 gift card. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest. It was great to see everyone loving the Brunswick Islands and our favorite landmarks as much as we do!

And now, here are the winners, along with some information about what inspired their photography and why they think the Brunswick Islands are so special.

1st Place on Facebook: Dwayne Schmidt

 Photograph of the Oak Island Lighthouse

Schmidt photo contest facebook winner

Dwayne Schmidt takes first place with his magnificent photo of the Oak Island Lighthouse in Caswell Beach. As a frequent visitor to the area, he has begun to see the Brunswick Islands as his second home. When asked what his favorite landmark in the area is, he stated that, “there are so many good landmarks that it’s hard to have just one favorite. Calabash is on the list because he “loves the sunsets and the boats, [he also enjoys] walking to the mailbox, sunset beach pier and its uniqueness of the compass painted on pier, the sign with miles and directions, all the bridges, Old Baldy, Oak Island Lighthouse and Southport.”

Regarding his inspiration for the winning shot, Dwayne mentioned that he, “always tries to visit Oak Island,” while he is in the Brunswick Islands. He was interested in getting a shot of the Oak Island Lighthouse at sunset. He said, “I could see down the beach line the pelicans flying and getting closer. I was like man, if they come through here it would be an awesome shot and they did. I timed it as the light turned.”

To Dwyane it’s more than just the beauty of the Brunswick Islands that makes it such a special destination. “People in this part of our state are always so friendly and kind. [They] quickly tell ya all the good things to see.”

2nd Place on Facebook: Wendy Wood Brumagin

Photograph of the Oak Island Lighthouse

Brumagin photo contest facebook winner 2

Wendy Wood Brumagin takes second place on Facebook for her stunning photo of the Oak Island Lighthouse. She expressed that her favorite landmark is the Oak Island Lighthouse. Wendy states that she has, “always been inspired by the beauty the lighthouse represents! She is always standing tall with her light to guide us safely home, whether in calm seas or churning oceans.”

Regarding her inspiration for the winning shot, Wendy told us that, “the way the sunset and the cloud formation that surrounded the lighthouse that evening made for the perfect picture!”

1st Place on Instagram: John Bracey; Instagram Handle: @dukebracey

Photo of the Calabash Waterfront 

John Bracey takes first place on Instagram for his captivating photo of the Calabash waterfront! John let us know that he always has his camera with him. While he was at dinner with his wife at Capt. John’s in Calabash, he was inspired by how the sky looked. John told us that on their way down the waterfront, “[they] could see that the sky looked like it was on fire.” Before he could even ask his wife for permission she looked at him and said, “go ahead” because she knew what was on his mind.

We asked John what he thought made the Brunswick Islands a great place to visit and he told us, “as beautiful as the Brunswick Islands are, and they are beautiful, it’s the people. The wonderful conversations that I have with people as we watch the sun rise or set are priceless.” We couldn’t agree more with John’s sentiment. As for his favorite landmark in the area, John told us that it is “Sunset Beach Pier by far.” He would dare to say that he has at least a 1000 or more pictures of the pier.

2nd Place on Instagram: Claus Fey; Instagram Handle: Feyusa

Photo of Southport Yacht Basin

Fey winner 2 insta

Claus Fey takes second place on Instagram for his magnificent shot of the Southport Yacht Basin! Claus shared with us that he was inspired by Southport’s immense beauty. He let us know that, “it was a beautiful day in December and the colors were perfect…then I saw a boat and its mirror image in the calm yacht basin and I knew I had a wonderful shot.”

We asked Claus what his favorite landmark in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is and he told us that, “the Oak Island Lighthouse is my favorite landmark. It towers over the beautiful beaches of Caswell Beach and is still active.” He also suggests taking one of the Oak Island Lighthouse tours to appreciate the “unmatched” and “overwhelmingly beautiful” views. We love his suggestion!

In addition to our winners on both platforms, we also selected two random winners and some honorable mentions. Thanks again to everyone who participated in our contest!

Random Drawing Winners:

Susan Wiman with her photo of Old Baldy

Wiman random winner

Shannon Carpenter with her photo of the Sunset Beach Pier

Carpenter random winner 2

Honorable Mentions:

@noahj_or and his photo of Old Baldy

honorable mention

@rosemarybarron  and her photo of the Holden Beach Pier

honorable mention 2

Sonia Ford and her photo of the Southport Yacht Basin

honorable mention 3

Be sure to visit #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks on both platforms to see all the incredible entries. On Facebook look for entries under public posts and in the comments of the contest announcements.  You can follow North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands on social media at facebook.com/NCBrunswick and instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands.

To learn more about North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit ncbrunswick.com.

Summer is Sea Turtle Time in the Brunswick Islands

sea turtle Brunswick Islands

For many people the word “summer” evokes mental images of sandy beaches, gentle waves, glowing sunshine, pearly white sea shells and freshly caught seafood. While these classic coastal elements are key parts of a summer escape to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, locals and visitors alike know that the 45 miles of picturesque, uncrowded beaches bring in more than happy beachgoers each summer. For centuries, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have been home to loggerhead sea turtles. These spectacular creatures travel great distances to lay their eggs along the shore from May to August, with hatchings happening July through October. Many visitors book their stays to have front row seats to this bit of maritime magic, making summertime sea turtle time in the Brunswick Islands. With so many ways to take part in the action, it is easy to see why!

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Turtle loving travelers can venture to Ocean Isle Beach for the Barrier Island Gallery at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. The museum shares The Legend of the Loggerhead with an exhibit featuring a sand dune model complete with mother loggerhead turtle laying a nest and hatchlings emerging from the nest. Visitors can walk through the dune to check out interior views of the nest and watch a video about the lifecycle of Ocean Isle Beach’s loggerhead turtles. With one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast, the Museum of Coastal Carolina also gives guests an opportunity to see life-size loggerhead turtles and other native wildlife displayed.

sea turtle exhibit

Turtle Talks

The Brunswick Islands has sea turtle protection organizations in Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free weekly family-friendly seminars, designed to share important information about loggerhead sea turtle protection efforts. These “Turtle Talks” are held in Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island late spring through summer. With different locations and times throughout the summer season, there are plenty of opportunities to entertain and educate your family about these magnificent creatures during your stay in the Brunswick Islands.  Visit our calendar of events for details.

Turtle Talks – Holden Beach

Every Wednesday, June-August, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Sunset Beach

Every Sunday, June 10-August 26, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Ocean Isle Beach

Every Monday, May 28-September 3, 3:30 p.m.

Every Tuesday, May 29-August 28, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Oak Island

Every Tuesday, June-August, 6:00 p.m.

baby sea turtles

Summer Internships

The Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization offers several week-long summer internships for middle and high school travelers ages 13-18. During this interactive experience, interns and their parents assist in monitoring sea turtle nests, collecting and logging sea turtle activity and by supporting visitor and resident awareness initiatives. Interested families can apply online. Insider tip: be aware of application deadlines to secure your spot on the sea turtle conservation team.

sea turtle nest

Visitor Tips for Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea turtles are a special part of the summer experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While sea turtle sightings are exciting, we all must do our part to support the loggerhead turtles’ journey and keep them returning to our beaches for the next 100 years. Check out our tips to creating a better beach environment for the sea turtles:

  1. Do not disturb a sea turtle as it makes its way to or from the ocean.
  2. Know how to spot a sea turtle nest and do not disturb. Nests will typically be numbered and marked by surrounding fencing.
  3. Lights may confuse the sea turtles, so avoid shining lights at the turtles and turn off all lights near the beach, including outdoor lighting.
  4. Be a responsible beachgoer and pick up all litter, fill in beach holes and remove your beach equipment.
  5. Avoid the use of flash photography in capturing a sea turtle sighting.
  6. Do not ever pick up a sea turtle.

For more information on ways to stay and how to plan a terrific turtle experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

The Best Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms that Love the Beach

Spring is here and that means it is time to get ready to celebrate that one very special lady in your life. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it is never too early to start planning how to show mom just how much you care. For moms that live by the motto “life is better in flip-flops” think beyond flowers this Mother’s Day and get coastal at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Check out our list of the perfect gifts for moms who always seem to have the beach on the brain!

Toast to Mom at Silver Coast Winery

Say “cheers” to mom this Mother’s Day with a trip to Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach. The Silver Coast Winery story began on Mother’s Day 2002 when owner Maryann Azzato was gifted a half-acre plot of land from her husband, Dr. Bud. A full family affair, Maryann along with her siblings and children planted the very grapes that would grow to become this local gem and Mother’s Day must. The winery offers a vineyard, tasting room and tours daily. Visitors can also enjoy the local art that adorns the walls of the winery’s art gallery.

waterfront dining

Take Mom to Dinner with a View

We all know the sun rises and sets with mom, so this year treat her to a view as spectacular as she is. The beaches and coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands are home to an incredible array of world-class dining experiences featuring both local specialties and global inspiration. Whether mom loves tastes of the Caribbean, signature Southern dishes, flavors of the Mediterranean or a fresh catch of the day, there are countless options to choose from. Our surplus of tranquil and scenic beaches creates seemingly endless opportunities for dinner and a coastal sunset. With multiple magnificent vantage points overlooking the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway, it is easy to find a special dinner spot with a view as perfect as she is.

Traverse the Beach Searching for Shells

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of sandy beaches create an abundant playground for exploring. Take mom back in time to simpler days when summers were spent searching for seashells in the sand. Sift through the sand for some of the popular shells found along our shores. From angelwings to olive shells, true tulips to sand dollars, there is always a hidden gem awaiting your discovery. These little treasures are sure to brighten up mom’s day for years to come and give her a piece of the beach to hold close to her heart all year long.

Trek to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

For a unique beachgoing experience, take mom to serene Bird Island for a stroll along Sunset Beach to visit the beloved Kindred Spirit Mailbox. For years the mailbox has been a must-visit spot for much-needed reflection. Visitors venture to the secluded mailbox to write their stories and share their love with the universe. Year after year people come by to add their letters, notes, thoughts, poems, prayers and wishes to the growing stack of journals found inside. This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a special spiritual experience and share your story with the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Treat Mom to One Unforgettable Beach Experience

NC's Brunswick Islands family vacationThe best way to give back to a beach-loving mom is to treat her to the ultimate beachgoing experience with an unforgettable getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our peaceful beaches, incredible culinary scene, rich history, exciting events and popular attractions make a vacation to our coastal oasis a sure way to put a smile on mom’s face. There is no shortage of ways to show mom how much you love her at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, so be sure to seas every opportunity to make May 13 a Mother’s Day to remember.

For more information and ways to make a memorable experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.