Take a Nicholas Sparks Tour of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

nicholas sparks, southport, visitor center

Nicholas Sparks has made a name for North Carolina as a place to fall in love. Whether it’s with a significant other, or one of his novels or films, you are destined for romance in the Brunswick Islands. Come to discover the inspiration behind Nicholas Sparks’ masterpieces.

Sparks has stated that setting is a major aspect of his work, both in terms of natural and cultural environments and atmosphere. Every novel he has written since The Notebook has been set in North Carolina. He has claimed that this charming southern state is the inspiration behind his passionate novels.

Named one of USA Today’s “Top 20 Books of the Fall,” Sparks’ latest novel, Every Breath, set in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, explores the whirlwind love story between North Carolinian, Hope Anderson and Zimbabwean safari guide, Tru Walls, through the decades, continents and fate that follow a chance meeting at Sunset Beach.

Every Breath was inspired by Sparks’ fascination with a Brunswick Islands’ hidden treasure, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Sparks, like many others, visited Sunset Beach seeking inspiration from this local landmark. Located near the dunes on Bird Island, about a mile from the nearest public beach access point, lies the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Planted by a Sunset Beach couple over 30 years ago, the mailbox, filled with journals and pens, encourages thousands of visitors each year to share their story with the universe. Readers of his new novel will come to find that this peculiar mailbox is at the center of the story line in Every Breath.

Sparks fanatics can enjoy a Safe Haven of their own by taking a Walk to Remember to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and other iconic landmarks in the Brunswick Islands that were made famous by Sparks’ work.

Check out our list of some of the can’t miss stops on the Nicholas Sparks Tour of the Brunswick Islands:

Brunswick Islands, North Carolina:

With 45+ miles of pristine beaches and charming coastal communities it is easy to see why a few of Sparks’ novels have been set and/or filmed in the Brunswick Islands. Sunset Beach, Southport, Oak Island and Caswell Beach have served as the backdrop for Every Breath (2018), Safe Haven (2010), A Walk To Remember (1999) and The Longest Ride (2013).

Sunset Beach, Brunswick Islands: Featured in Every Breath.

  • Send a message at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, the central location in the novel and the destination that Nicholas Sparks’ character in the novel finds the manila envelope detailing the “The Most Amazing Story Ever” of Tru Wallace and Hope Anderson’s romance.
  • Visit the charming town of Sunset Beach where Hope Anderson goes to spend time at her family’s cottage.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Southport, Brunswick IslandsFeatured in the film adaptation of A Walk To Remember and in the novel and film adaptation of Safe Haven.

Featured in A Walk to Remember:

  • Stop by the beautiful church where Jamie Sullivan’s dad was a pastor.
  • Stargaze at the Old Smithville Burying Ground where Landon Carter named a star after Jamie.
  • Watch the sunset over the water at the Riverwalk Gazebo where Jamie and Landon shared a kiss.

southport chapel in a walk to remember

Featured in Safe Haven:

  • Have a drink on the dock at Old American Fish Co restaurant, which transformed into Ivan’s Fish Shack where Katie Feldman worked as a waitress.
  • Walk through Downtown Southport to see some of the storefronts and restaurants that made their way into the film as well as housed the crew.
  • While you may not be able to see Ryan’s Port Market, you can still see some of its remains and other Safe Haven memorabilia at the Fort Johnston- Southport Museum and Visitors Center. While you are there be sure to pick up a brochure of all of the Safe Haven film locations.
  • Explore West Moore and Bay Street where the dramatic Fourth of July Festival was recreated in the Fall in order to film this iconic scene.
  • Fans will recognize the West Brunswick Street house where Alex Wheatley lived with his children in the film.
  • Enjoy a meal at Ports of Call restaurant—where Katie and Alex shared their first romantic dinner.
  • See where Alex kept his boat at the Southport Marina.

Ivan's, Safe Haven

Oak Island, Brunswick IslandsFeatured in the film adaptation of Safe Haven.

  • Grab a bite at Wildlife Restaurant & Grill where Katie and Alex escaped the rain and shared a dance, that is until the police interrupted.

safe haven oak island

Caswell Beach, Brunswick IslandsFeatured in the film adaptation of The Longest Ride.

  • Visit the delightful seaside town of Caswell Beach where Ruth’s family spent the summer.

caswell beach

Looking for other things to do while on your Nicholas Sparks trip? Want to discover other movies that were filmed in the Brunswick Islands? Feeling a little peckish along your journey? Check out more information about the Brunswick Islands at ncbrunswick.com.

Secrets of the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

On a secluded stretch of beach far from the nearest public access point and nestled between sand dunes is an unlikely sight – a mailbox…with a bench next to it. The bench is where you sit to pen your innermost thoughts; the mailbox is where you place the journal when you are done. More than just a receptacle for pieces of paper, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island holds the wishes, thoughts, prayers and dreams of those who walk the 30 minutes to share and bare their soul and draw comfort from the act of doing so while enjoying the soothing sounds and sights of undeveloped beach, ocean and horizon.

This mysterious mailbox is the inspiration behind Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel Every Breath. Sunset Beach and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox feature heavily in the novel.

To learn the secrets behind the Kindred Spirit Mailbox view this brief CBS news clip.

The serene walk from the last public access on Sunset Beach to Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox will be sure to give you time to reconnect with self and spirit. Are you willing to share your deepest thoughts?

Insider Tip: The trip to Kindred Spirit is two miles roundtrip. Save more time for writing and reading and rent a bike on Sunset Beach for the journey.

Learn more about NC’s Brunswick Islands, home of Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox at www.ncbrunswick.com.

Enter the Brunswick Islands Landmarks Photo Contest #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks

Brunswick Islands Photo Contest

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is excited to announce its fall social media photo contest, #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks! This photo contest will highlight some of the most iconic Brunswick Islands landmarks. We invite you to share your best Brunswick Islands photos of our five ocean piers (the Holden Beach Pier, Sunset Beach Pier, Ocean Crest Pier, Ocean Isle Beach Pier, and Oak Island Pier), Oak Island Lighthouse, Old Baldy, Kindred Spirit Mailbox, Southport Yacht Basin, or the Calabash Waterfront on Instagram and Facebook using #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks and #BrunswickIslands from October 9-22, 2018.

When submitting your entry, please also include the Brunswick Islands’ location shown in the photo. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands will choose its favorite photos from the submissions with first and second place prizes for both the Instagram and Facebook winners, along with two randomly chosen winners. Prizes include North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands rolling coolers, beach towels and hats, and a $100 Visa® Gift Card! The official contest rules are listed below.

Share your photos and follow us on Instagram: @NCBrunswickIslands

Share your photos, follow and like us on Facebook: @NCBrunswick

In addition to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of pristine beaches, the Brunswick Islands is home to picturesque waterfronts, five ocean piers and two lighthouses that boast phenomenal views, and activities for the whole family to enjoy! Guests and residents can catch the sun set or rise over the Atlantic Ocean, cast a line or climb to new heights at one of the Brunswick Islands’ iconic landmarks.

Check out a few fun facts about the landmarks of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands:

  • The Southport Yacht Basin was the backdrop for many iconic scenes in the popular Nicholas Sparks film, Safe Haven.
  • Calabash’s waterfront is the birthplace of the beloved Calabash style of seafood where fresh shrimp, clams, oysters and fish are coated in a light batter and quickly fried to lock in the freshness.
  • The Sunset Beach Pier is the southernmost fishing pier in North Carolina.
  • The Ocean Isle Beach Pier features an arcade and a beach grill.
  • The Holden Beach Pier features a campground with 60 beachfront, full hook-up sites.
  • The Ocean Crest Pier has an onsite weather station measuring wind speed, water temperature and more.
  • The Oak Island Pier is in the process of being rebuilt and is set to be completed by next April.
  • The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is the center of Nicholas Sparks’ highly anticipated novel, Every Breath which is set to be released on October 16.
  • Old Baldy is North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse.
  • The Oak Island lighthouse has 131 ship ladder steps instead of the traditional spiral stairway that many lighthouses have.

CONTEST RULES: The following rules will be required for entry.

1. ENTRY:

a. No purchase necessary to enter or win.

b. Fans may enter by Facebook or Instagram:

i. If entering by Instagram, follow @NCBrunswickIslands and use both hashtags #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks and #BrunswickIslands. Include the location of where the photo was taken in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The user account settings must be public to be considered for entry.

ii. If entering by Facebook, submit the photo entry directly to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ Facebook account page and include the hashtag #BrunswickIslandsLandmarks. The user must also identify where the photo was taken in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Be sure you have liked North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ Facebook page.

c. By submitting entries via hashtag on Instagram and Facebook, entrant is agreeing to all contest terms and conditions.

d. By entering the contest, the entrant attests and warrants as follows: (a) I have the right to post the Content; (b) neither the Content nor the use of the Content by the Permitted Parties will infringe upon or violate the intellectual property rights or other rights, including, without limitation, any right of publicity and/or copyright, of any other person or entity or any applicable laws; and (c) the photo was taken in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

e. Entries must be submitted within TUESDAY, 10/9/2018 at 9 a.m. EST and MONDAY, 10/22/2018 at 4 p.m. EST to be considered for entry.

2. ELIGIBILITY: This contest is open only to legal U.S. residents. Employees of Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority (along with its contractors, affiliates and subsidiaries) and their families are not eligible to win. Void where prohibited by law. Contestants residing in those areas where the contest is void may participate in the contest but may not win any prizes.

3. WINNER SELECTION: Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority will judge the contest. Submissions will be judged based on how much it shows the beauty of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and its famous landmarks. All decisions of the judges are final.

4. PRIZES: First and Second Place winners will be chosen from Facebook entries and First and Second Place winners will be chosen from Instagram entries.

First Place Grand Prize Winners: $100.00 Visa® Gift Card and North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands Beach Towel.

Second Place Prize Winners: North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands Beach Towel and hat.

Random Prize Winners: 1 winner will receive a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands beach tote bag and 1 winner will receive a North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands Beach Towel.

Terms and conditions may apply. Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed as part of a prize in these Official Rules and which may be associated with the award, acceptance, receipt and use of all or any portion of the awarded prize are solely the responsibility of the respective prize winner.

5. WINNER NOTIFICATION: Winners will be notified through Instagram or Facebook within two (2) days after the contest end date. It is the winners’ responsibility to monitor their Instagram and Facebook accounts for notifications. If a potential prize winner does not respond to the Sponsor within five (5) days after being notified of winning via the Instagram account or Facebook page used for submission, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize.

6. GENERAL CONDITIONS: Participants hereby grant Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to broadcast, publish, store, reproduce, distribute, syndicate, and otherwise use and exhibit the Submission (along with their names, voices, performance and/or likenesses) in all media now known and later come into being for purposes of trade or advertising without further compensation or recognition. Participants represent and warrant that they have full legal right, power and authority to grant Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority the foregoing license and if applicable, have secured all necessary rights from any participants in, and contributors to, their Submission in order to grant such a license.

7. NOT ENDORSED BY INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK: By participating in this contest, you acknowledge that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or Facebook and release Instagram or Facebook from any and all liability arising from or related to this contest. The information you are providing for this contest is being provided to Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority and not to Instagram or Facebook, and will be used to notify you if you have won.

8. CONDUCT: All contest participants agree to be bound by these Official Rules. Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering with the entry process, the operation of its web site or is otherwise in violation of these rules.

9. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority is not responsible for late, lost or misdirected email or for any computer, online, telephone or technical malfunctions that may occur. If for any reason, the contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort, Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority may cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest. Entrants further agree to release Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority from any liability resulting from, or related to participation in the contest.

Sponsor’s Address: Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority is located at 712 Village Road SW, Shallotte, NC 28470.

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

You can follow the North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands on social media at https://www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and https://www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/.

 

Eight Free Things To Do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Caswell Beach Oak Island Lighthouse

Sometimes the best things in life are free, and that is no exception in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. This summer discover just how easy it is to go big on a budget in the Brunswick Islands. When you’re visiting, be sure to check out the below eight free activities that are sure to bring on the smiles without breaking the bank or sacrificing the fun factor.

1. Oak Island Lighthouse

Located on Caswell Beach, the Oak Island Lighthouse is a must-visit spot that proves it is possible to elevate your vacation experience at no added cost. The 153-foot structure is the last lighthouse built in North Carolina. While tours to the top of this 15-story beauty are free, friendly donations from visitors are always appreciated and help ensure that future travelers to the area will enjoy the scenic views awaiting atop the 131-step series of ships ladders.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

 2. Kindred Spirit Mailbox

While walks along the beach are always a priceless perk of a coastal getaway, at the Brunswick Islands you can take a tranquil stroll to a tucked away mailbox full of secrets. Standing in the sands of beautiful Bird Island is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. This mailbox to nowhere is a true hidden gem holding small notebooks full of the thoughts, dreams, wishes and prayers of wayward travelers. Walk along Bird Island and see the mailbox firsthand to soak in the magic and add your own musings to the ever-growing collection.

 

3. North Carolina Maritime Museum

Venture to Southport to visit one of the three maritime museums sponsored by the state of North Carolina. Visitors to the museum can dive into the rich history of the Cape Fear River region. The museum’s well curated collection tells the story of the region and covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, and other nautical adventures. While admission to the Maritime Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

Southport tour

 4. Self-Guided Tour of Southport

One authentic and charming way to explore the area is by foot. Spend less and see more with a self-guided tour starting at the Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center. Here maps and brochures that will lead your journey through historic Southport can be found. Stops include churches and homes dating back to the 1800s as well as landmarks like City Hall, the Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and River Pilots Tower. Southport, “American’s Happiest Seaside Town” as noted by Coastal Living, has been a beloved Brunswick Islands destination since the late 1700s. No stranger to the spotlight, Southport’s innately picturesque scenery has served as the backdrop to many popular films and TV shows such as Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember and The Secret Life of Bees.

Brunswick Town

5. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

History buffs will delight in a day trip to the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site. Admission is free and grants visitors access to tour and roam what is left of old Brunswick, a major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. Brunswick Town was razed by British troops in 1776. While the town was never rebuilt, during the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on the old town grounds and functioned until the fall of the Confederacy. Today notable sites include the hulk of what was once Brunswick’s St. Philip’s Anglican Church and remains of a sea captain’s house used by royal governors.

sea turtle

 6. Turtle Talks

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to unforgettable and wonderful wildlife experiences. Loggerhead sea turtles are known to frequent the area, and sometimes lucky visitors are able to catch a glimpse of a magnificent sea turtle gliding through the ocean waves or watch in awe as baby sea turtles make their way toward the sea. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free seminars, designed for the whole family, to share important information about protecting loggerhead sea turtles. These “Turtle Talks” can are held late spring through summer. See our calendar of events for details.

7. Summer Concerts

The ways to enjoy some free fun in the sun continue with summer concerts at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Starting in May through Labor Day week each of our beach communities hold live music performances that are free to enjoy and perfect for family members of all ages. Each community has their own schedule and performing artists change every week, so be sure to check out our calendar of events for more information on who will be playing during your stay.

Farmers Market

8. Farmers Market

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, it is easy to live like a local with summer outdoor farmers markets starting up in May. Many of our friendly beach communities host their own outdoor market, some located along the waterfront, offering fine artisanal goods, locally grown produce, baked goods, photography, pottery and other handcrafted items. While the fresh and local goodies are for sale, a stroll through one of our quaint farmers markets is a relaxing way to enjoy a morning at the beach.  See our calendar of events for locations and times.

For more information on things to do 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.