School’s Out, Summer’s On in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Family Vacation

School is out, which means summer family vacations are in! Relax, soak up the sun and spend quality time together in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Families seeking a summer escape filled with fun experiences and activities need to look no further than these unique islands. With endless coastal adventures, this family vacation spot is the picture-perfect location where everlasting memories are made.

Check out some of our suggestions for planning an exciting, family-friendly summer getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands:

Reach New Heights at The Swamp Park

Experience unparalleled views from breathtaking perspectives at The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. Soar through the treetops on an exhilarating 10- line, three bridge zip line tour or test your coordination and agility on the 49 element adventure park. Or if heights aren’t your thing, The Swamp Park also offers an ecological swamp boat tour through the Shallotte River Swamp. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the natural swamp environment, home to many reptiles, birds and other critters. The Swamp Park welcomes all ages of explorers and adrenaline junkies.

Swamp Park

Keep Calm and Paddle On

Set your soul to the current of the water while paddling through the peaceful waterways, marshes and creeks of the Brunswick Islands. Whether stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, there is a paddle-sporting adventure awaiting every member of the family. The Brunswick Islands are home to miles of the Intracoastal Waterway, salt marshes and brackish creeks and rivers. While paddling through these waterways, the scenic view point allows for the opportunity to witness some of the wildlife that call the Brunswick Islands home like Ospreys, Eagles, Fox Squirrels and White-Tailed Deer. And if you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a bottleneck dolphin or two! Whether you are a newcomer, an expert or just looking for a tour with a local guide, the Brunswick Islands have many outfitters that offer rentals, lessons and tours.

Paddleboarding

Sail Away to the Maritime Museum of Southport

Dive into the rich maritime history of the Lower Cape Fear River at North Carolina’s Maritime Museum in Southport. With hands on exhibits featuring everything from the first indigenous mariners to commercial fisheries to the Civil War and World War II, this museum is bound to spark the interest of every member of the family. Admission to the museum is free and it’s open year round on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

maritime museum

Hook, Line, Sinker

As the weather heats up so does the fishing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Whether you’re a novice or a pro-angler, there is a prime fishing spot for everyone. The easiest way to get hooked is to start with surf fishing. All you need is a rod, a reel, some tackle and maybe a cooler and a beach chair. But if you are looking to step up your fishing game, then visit one of the five fishing piers in the Brunswick Islands: the Sunset Beach Pier, Ocean Isle Beach Pier, Holden Beach Pier, Ocean Crest Pier and the recently renovated Oak Island Pier, officially open to anglers on July 2, 2019. Or if boating is more your speed, check out out one of the many charter companies in the Brunswick Islands offering everything from inshore fishing to a deep-sea adventure. No matter where you choose to cast your line, fishing means fun in the Brunswick Islands!

Fishing NC's Brunswick Islands

Ready, Set, Blast off into the Ingram Planetarium

Blast off into infinity and beyond and explore the galaxy all while inside the Ingram Planetarium at Sunset Beach. This state-of-the-art, 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater blends entertainment and education in an exciting way that is fun for all ages. Come for an educational and exciting astronomy program or sit back and rock out to one of the laser, music light shows offered at the planetarium. And if the astronomy program isn’t enough science for you, then check out the Paul Dennis Science Hall, complete with hands-on activities and interactive displays. This is one stop you won’t want to miss!

Ingram Planetarium

Get a Bird’s Eye View of the Brunswick Islands

Climb to new heights with a lighthouse tour in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The Brunswick Islands are home to the oldest and the newest lighthouses in the state. Start your Brunswick Islands lighthouse tour in Caswell Beach with the Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse to be built in North Carolina. From the top tier outside balcony, on a clear day, you can see all the way down to Holden Beach and Oak Island on one side and across the way to Bald Head Island on the other. Climb up 131 ship ladder steps and witness the epic view for yourself. Then, hop aboard the Bald Head Island ferry to make your way to the oldest lighthouse in the state, Old Baldy. Built in 1817, Old Baldy has long stood as a beacon to the area, marking the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

Old Baldy and Oak Island Lighthouse

Dive into Ocean Fun at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

On the picturesque barrier island of Ocean Isle Beach sits the Museum of Coastal Carolina. This museum has long been a family favorite, entrancing both the young and young at heart. Home to one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast, a fossil pit prime for budding archaeologists and a touch tank full of live sea urchins, sea stars and other creatures, this museum is the perfect spot to bring those inquisitive family members.

museum of coastal carolina

Leave those school year worries in the past because summer is on in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! With six unique barrier islands and a vast range of activities, there is an island vacation suited for every family.

For more information on activities to enjoy during your summer vacation in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Island Hopping in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Island Hopping

With five unique barrier islands, it’s no wonder that North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has been a family favorite beach destination for generations. When you are looking to plan your next beach vacation, are you partial to the resort style of Ocean Isle Beach? Do memories of hanging out at the Oak Island Pier draw you back? Is it the family vibe of Holden Beach that has you visiting year after year? Or perhaps it’s the secrets that Sunset Beach holds? Whichever island is your favorite home-base, we encourage you to go island hopping on your next Brunswick Islands visit and discover the unique activities, cuisine and events that await on each of our barrier islands. Who knows, you may just end up with a new favorite beach to stake your umbrella!

Holden Beach
Geographically located in the middle of our string of barrier islands, Holden Beach is easily accessible from anywhere in the Brunswick Islands. Head here for a spectacular shrimp burger at Provision Company! Each nationally-acclaimed shrimp patty is made from fresh-off-the-docks shrimp, lightly fried and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and a tasty special sauce, all served on a perfectly toasted bun or enjoyed atop a bed of crisp lettuce, cucumbers, crunchy croutons and garden-ripe tomatoes. Even better, your view overlooks the waterway and the many shrimp boats that call Holden Beach home. The reason this shrimp burger is extra good? Many of the area’s shrimp boats dock at Holden Beach and unload their catch directly to the restaurants and seafood purveyors here. Take a walk along the docks to see the shrimp boats and visit Old Ferry Seafood to pick up the latest fresh catch or a made-to-order Low Country Boil.

holden beach

Oak Island
Next, hop on over to Oak Island which features 14 miles of beautiful uncrowded beaches and is home to the towns of Oak Island and Caswell Beach. While there be sure to check out the newly rebuilt Oak Island Pier, the tallest pier in North Carolina! It is complete with a tackle shop, restaurant and plenty of space for pedestrians and anglers.

For a change of perspective head over to the east end of the island to explore Caswell Beach, home of the Oak Island Lighthouse. Get a bird’s eye view of the area with a free tour to the top of the lighthouse, offered on Tuesday, Thursday and some Sunday mornings throughout the summer by reservation only. General, no reservation required, second level tours are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

caswell beach

Ocean Isle Beach
For a hair-raising adventure, visit The Swamp Park at Ocean Isle Beach! This unique attraction will have you soaring through the sky on a zipline course, exploring the lands by ATV tour, spotting marine life on the swamp boat eco-tour, or swinging through the trees on the aerial adventure park.

Be sure to visit this island on Wednesdays to check out the “All hands-on Deck” program at the largest dry aquarium in the southeast at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. This interactive program gives guests an opportunity to learn about the creatures that live in the diverse ecosystem found in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

ocean isle beach

Sunset Beach
Located on the southwestern end of the Brunswick Islands, Sunset Beach is one of the most unique beach experiences that can be found on the east coast because the western end of the island is a completely undeveloped nature reserve. Just a mile’s walk from the last public beach access, is the Bird Island Reserve which is home to a variety of birds, wildlife and beautiful sand dunes. Here you can rejuvenate your soul at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, where visitors find comfort in divulging their wishes, prayers and dreams among the breathtaking beauty of the ocean. Once back from the beach, finish your Sunset Beach hop with a tour of the Old Sunset Bridge Museum, home to the last pontoon swing bridge on the East Coast!

If visiting Sunset Beach on a Thursday, you can explore the Sunset Beach Waterfront Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where fresh produce and local goods are sold. Stay for some Thursday night fun and check out the laser light and music show at the Ingram Planetarium.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Bald Head Island
Accessible only by boat, jump on board the ferry that leaves from Southport and take the 20 minute ride over to Bald Head Island. There you can tour North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, Old Baldy. Rising above the trees, looking out over the sea, marsh and harbor, the lighthouse is only a short walk from the ferry landing. Admission to the Smith Island Museum of History allows you to climb Old Baldy’s 108 steps for an incomparable view of the island and tour the museum to learn about Bald Head Island’s seafaring history.

bald head island

Be sure to make North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands your next island hopping getaway this summer! For more information on the Brunswick Islands and other special offers, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

10 Scrumptious Shrimp Dishes to Enjoy on National Shrimp Day

National Shrimp Day

Known for its rich shrimping and fishing heritage and abundance of seafood restaurants, there is no better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! On National Shrimp Day – or any other day – be sure to try some of these delicious, fresh seafood dishes for yourself.

Check out some of our favorite local shrimp dishes below!

1. Shrimp & Grits – Cape Fear Seafood Company (Leland)

Shrimp and grits is a staple offering at any Southern seafood restaurant and the Cape Fear Seafood Company in Leland takes this classic coastal dish to a new level. With fresh caught Carolina shrimp, applewood bacon, tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms in a low country cream sauce over cheesy grits, Cape Fear’s shrimp and grits is a perfect choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner on National Shrimp Day!

2. Shrimp Burger – Provision Company (Holden Beach)

If you’re looking for a true culinary experience to try on National Shrimp Day, check out the shrimp burger at Provision Company on Holden Beach. This delectable dish puts a spin on your standard burger with a patty made with grilled shrimp and topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and a creole remoulade sauce on the side.

3. Coconut Shrimp – Fishy Fishy Café (Southport)

Take the boat over to Southport and pull up right at the docks of Fishy Fishy Café where you can enjoy some tasty coconut shrimp, lightly battered and fried and topped with an orange Dijon glaze. Fishy Fishy Café offers tasty seafood with an unbeatable view and lively atmosphere that perfectly encompasses the personality of the Brunswick Islands.

4. Stateline Scampi – The Oyster Rock (Calabash)

If pasta is more your speed, head to The Oyster Rock in Calabash for their Stateline Scampi. This tasty shrimp scampi dish features large Carolina white shrimp sautéed in butter with fresh garlic, local diced tomatoes, white wine and fresh lemon tossed in bucatini pasta and comes with garlic bread and grated parmesan cheese. For a perfect mix of Italian cuisine and delicious Carolina seafood, The Oyster Rock is the spot for you.

5. Sweet & Sour Shrimp – The Fish House Restaurant (Oak Island)

For a creative take on classic fried shrimp recipes, head to The Fish House Restaurant in Oak Island and try their sweet & sour shrimp served with a fresh vegetable medley and your choice of starch. These flavorful morsels are deep fried before being tossed with pineapple and sweet and sour sauce, giving them a tangy, citrusy twist.

National Shrimp Day

6. Firecracker Shrimp – The Boundary House (Calabash)

Add some spice to your National Shrimp Day celebration and help yourself to a heaping portion of firecracker shrimp at The Boundary House restaurant in Calabash. These little guys have a bit of bite as they’re lightly fried and coated in a spicy chili sauce.

7. Stuffed Shrimp – Crabby Oddwaters (Sunset Beach)

Let your taste buds run wild this National Shrimp Day with delicious stuffed Shrimp at Crabby Oddwaters on Sunset Beach. These jumbo shrimp are packed with flavor and flaky crab meat and are baked to perfection, making for a great dish to celebrate this holiday.

8. Cheesy Shrimp and Lobster Artichoke Dip – Wing and Fish Company (Shallotte)

What better way to celebrate National Shrimp Day than with cheesy shrimp and lobster artichoke dip found at the Wing and Fish Company in Shallotte. This tasty dish is loaded with delicious shrimp and lobster folded into a blend of cream and parmesan cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts, and served with fresh baked tortilla chips.

9. Shrimp Étouffée – Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille (Ocean Isle Beach)

Indulge in Shrimp Étouffée this National Shrimp Day, a can’t miss treat found at Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille on Ocean Isle Beach. Enjoy locally caught shrimp simmered in spicy country ham and tomato broth topped with pickled red onion and served with buttered rice and scallions.

10. Traditional Calabash Shrimp (Calabash)

You can’t find a better place to celebrate National Shrimp Day than the Brunswick Islands, home of Calabash, North Carolina, the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash’s title was earned thanks to its namesake cooking technique of lightly battering and frying shrimp, giving it a perfectly crispy outer shell while leaving the inside juicy and buttery. Other places can try to imitate it, but nothing beats the original for this tasty dish. There can be no list of must try shrimp dishes that doesn’t include Calabash-style fried shrimp. To find dishes featuring Calabash-style fried shrimp head to any of the delicious seafood restaurants in town for an authentic Calabash dining experience.  As an added bonus, several of the town’s seafood restaurants feature outdoor, waterfront dining.

National Shrimp Day

These are just a sampling of the many great seafood dishes and restaurants found in the Brunswick Islands. For more information on dinning options, visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

New Year’s Resolutions, Brunswick Islands Style!

New Year's Resolutions sand

Welcome the New Year by trading in post-holiday blues for ocean views in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Those looking to get away while staying on track with their 2019 resolutions can do so with ease in the Brunswick Islands. With countless coastal activities, a vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is sure to keep you active, stress free and maybe even on the path to learning something new. Take a look at some of these common New Year’s resolutions and figure out how you too can stick to them while on a beach getaway to the Brunswick Islands.

Be More Active

Who says staying active can’t also be fun? Here in the Brunswick Islands we are in no short supply of fun, physical activities that the whole family can enjoy! Start with a fun and challenging climb to the top of one of our lighthouses. At 110 feet tall, Old Baldy stands as the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina and a climb to the top is one of the best ways to view scenic Bald Head Island. Or try climbing up the 131 ship ladder steps to the outside balcony of the Oak Island Lighthouse, located just across the way at Caswell Beach.

How about a little more thrill! Head over to The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. Whether soaring high above the ground on the 2.5-hour Zipline Tour, traversing the Aerial Adventure Park challenge course or taking a daredevil jump off the 50-foot Pelican Dive, there are plenty of ways to get the heart rate going from not only physical activity but also a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Heights not your thing? Try a simpler way to stay active like taking a long walk on the beach to find copious amounts of beautiful shells. Or, break out that bike and take it for a spin along the shore. Don’t have your bike with you? Not a problem. You can rent one from one of many outfitters in the Brunswick Islands.

Bikes

Learn to Relax

Pull up a beach chair, grab a good book and sink into the sand. There is no better way to relieve stress than by relaxing to the sound of the ocean. Studies show that the sights, sounds and smells of the beach help you to slow down and relax.

Or, try taking a reflective walk on Bird Island and stumble upon one of Brunswick Islands’ hidden gems. About a mile and a half from the nearest public access beach point lies the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Full of notebooks and pens for passersby to leave their thoughts, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox has united wanderlust souls for decades. This is a great place to leave behind any troubles from the past year and to move forward with the next.

And if all else fails you can always relax with a glass (or bottle) of wine at the Silver Coast Winery. Known for their award winning wines, the Silver Coast Winery has been a Brunswick Islands staple since it’s opening in 2002. There is truly no better place to keep your “less stress” resolution than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

relaxing beach chairs

Pick up a New Hobby

If your New Year’s resolution is to learn a new skill or hobby, well North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the place for you. Whether you are looking to pick up a new sport or improve on a coastal classic, the Brunswick Islands has it all.

Let’s say your resolution is to take a few strokes off your golf game. With over 30 premier golf courses and countless helpful golf pros, you will be playing like a pro in no time. Or if golf isn’t your thing, try picking up a fishing pole and casting a line. From a boat, shore or pier, you are bound to catch not only dinner, but a love of the craft.

Gnarly dude! Ever look out into the waves and wonder what it would be like to surf like the pros? Well now you don’t have to. With the help of our seasoned professionals you will be hanging ten in no time! Or if you want a tamer option, try stand up paddle boarding or kayaking. Not only is great exercise and relaxing, but it will have you back out on the water time and time again.

surfing resolutions

Don’t let the fear of breaking your New Year’s resolutions stop you from taking a beach vacation! Not only do the Brunswick Islands allow for you to participate in your resolutions, but they let you thrive at them. For more information on the Brunswick Islands, check out www.ncbrunswick.com.

Get Hooked on Fall Fishing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Pier Fishing

Fall is in the air, which for many area residents and visitors means it is time to cast a line and get hooked on a good time in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our 45 miles of pristine coastline offers ample access to both fresh and saltwater fishing hotspots that are sure to excite both amateur fishing enthusiasts and seasoned pros alike. As the seasons change, so does the natural stock of fish and marine wildlife awaiting your fishing expertise. Planning your fall fishing excursion in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands? Check out our insider info and tips for making your visit a memorable one.

Fishing Finds

Several species of fish are highly migratory, with circuits ranging from a few miles to massive distances. While the motives for these migratory treks is a mystery even to scientists, we do know that these mighty movements make for even better sport fishing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. According to local expert Captain Jerry Dilsaver, this natural phenomenon really gets the fish biting. In preparation for the migrations south, fish along the Brunswick Islands are feeding hard in the fall to store energy for the long journey ahead.

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, tuna and even blue crabs. Fall in particular provides fishing parties with the opportunity to snag speckled trout, flounder, red drum and black drum inshore; flounder, red drum, black drum, whiting and pompano along the surf; Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, gray trout and large red drum in the nearshore ocean; as well as king mackerel, wahoo, dolphin, blackfin tuna, grouper, snapper, black sea bass, porgy, grunt and the occasional hog snapper and African pompano in the offshore ocean.

Brunswick Islands fishing

 

Exploring by Boat

According to Captain Dilsaver, the wide variety of fish and knowledgeable charter fishermen are part of what makes North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands a fantastic fishing destination. For a taste of the high seas, book one of the experienced charter services located throughout the Brunswick Islands. The charter services are owned and staffed by seasoned pros with in-depth knowledge of local fishing and weather conditions. With both half-day and all-day excursions, charters can traverse the deep sea of coastal North Carolina or prime inshore fishing sites. Whether you are looking for a freshly caught dinner, a few laughs or simply a day spent out on the sea, the fishing community of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is here to help craft a perfect and memorable experience for your fishing party.

For a smaller scale boating experience, guests can rent a kayak and venture out on Captain Dilsaver’s favorite fall fishing excursion. Captain Dilsaver notes that trophy drum, measuring 40+ inches, can be caught September through Thanksgiving. “They are a favorite of kayak fishermen, and there is a dedicated group of them that launch almost every calm morning from the beach accesses on Oak Island,” said Captain Dilsaver. “This is my personal fall favorite.”

Coastal Fishing

 

Cast a Line from the Coast

Those looking for an on shore fishing experience can find it in the Brunswick Islands. Our expansive stretch of beautiful beaches boasts countless spots for surf-casting. Get your feet wet and sink into the sport with this time-tested method. For a more scenic approach, venture to one of the five ocean piers located throughout the Brunswick Islands. Each pier has its own unique flair to make your experience both convenient and fun! Drop a line and soak in the signature North Carolina coastal views. Don’t have your fishing equipment on hand? Not a problem! Several local vendors offer rods, reels, basic tackle and more.

No two Brunswick Islands’ fishing excursions are ever the same. Whether casting your first line or returning for an annual trip, there are always more reasons to get hooked on fishing in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For more information on area fishing opportunities, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/fishing_and_charters.