Best Beach Books: 7 of our Favorite Beach Reads Set or Filmed in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

beach reads

Life is better at the beach, especially when you have a good book! North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is one of the best places to stick your toes in the sand and jump into a classic beach read. With six beautiful beaches and an array of charming coastal communities filled with rich history, literature and romance, it is easy to see why the Brunswick Islands has inspired many authors and film makers alike.

Check out some of the best beach books that were either set in the Brunswick Islands or filmed scenes here for the movie adaptation of the novel:

Safe Haven
An iconic love story by Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven, was set and filmed in the town of Southport. This dramatic thriller is about a young woman, Katie, who moves to a quaint southern town and begins a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner. Just as their relationship starts to develop, dark secrets from Katie’s past begin to intrude on her new life.

Explore the charming southern town of Southport to see the various filming locations in Safe Haven like West Moore and Bay Streets where the dramatic NC 4th of July Festival was recreated for the movie, Ports of Call where Katie and Alex shared their first romantic dinner or grab a cocktail at Old American Fish Co., known in Safe Haven as Ivan’s, where Katie worked as a waitress. And for a more in depth look at some filming memorabilia, visit Fort Johnston – Southport Museum and Visitors Center.

Safe Haven

The Old Man and the Boy
The Old Man and the Boy, written by Robert Ruark, is a novel created out of a series of columns Ruark wrote for Field and Stream. Based on his own childhood memories of visiting his grandparents’ house in Southport, the book is about a young boy named Bobby who learns the value of hunting, fishing and becoming a gentleman from his grandfather, the Old Man. A perfect place to pick up this novel when visiting Southport, is the Robert Ruark Inn, a Victorian style B&B once owned by Ruark’s grandparents.

Robert Ruark Inn

Every Breath
Nicholas Sparks’ latest romance novel, Every Breath is about Hope Anderson, an ER trauma nurse, taking a break from her worries at her family’s vacation cottage in Sunset Beach, and Tru Walls, a safari guide from Zimbabwe, on a quest to discover his past. The novel is centered around the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, a truly unique landmark awaiting wanderers from far and wide. This one-of-a-kind mailbox sits about 1.5 miles from the nearest public access point on Bird Island, full of notebooks and pens just waiting for explorers to come divulge their secrets and leave messages of hope and inspiration for the next adventurer.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer is a spooky tale about four friends that run over a fisherman and dump his body in the water. A year later, they receive a frightening letter telling them that their crime was seen. Throughout the tale, the suspense increases as the killer stalks members of the group. Visitors to Southport will recognize iconic landmarks like the Amuzu Theatre and the Southport Riverwalk that were featured in the film adaptation of the novel.

Amuzu

Under the Dome
Under the Dome, filmed in Southport, is a book by Stephen King that was adapted as a TV series. The novel tells the story of the residents of a fictional small town that are cut off from the rest of the world by an enormous, indestructible dome. If you visit the town of Southport during your trip to the Brunswick Islands, you will be able to recognize the two-story house located on East Bay Street and the pilots tower on the Southport Waterfront, both featured in the series.

Under the Dome

A Walk to Remember
One of Nicholas Sparks’ most iconic novels, A Walk to Remember follows a popular high school senior, Landon Carter, as he falls in love with the local minister’s daughter, Jamie Sullivan. The two develop a powerful and romantic relationship in which they discover deep truths about one another. Visitors can stop by the beautiful church in Southport where Jamie’s dad worked as a minister or for a more romantic experience, visitors can watch the sunset over the Yacht Basin at the Riverwalk Gazebo where Landon told Jamie that he loved her for the first time.

reads

The Longest Ride
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks is a tale of two separate love affairs, intertwined into one fate-driven novel. The first pair of star-crossed lovers is Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback and Sophia, a college student who is about to head to New York City to start her dream job. As fate would have it, they have a chance encounter with Ira, a ninety-one year old man who shares with them the epic story of his relationship with his late wife Ruth. Be sure to pull up a beach chair and break out this novel when visiting the charming seaside town of Caswell Beach that served as the filming location for where Ruth’s family spent the summer in the film adaptation.

caswell beach

The Wedding
The Wedding by Dorothy West is set in the 1950s in a small New England enclave that consists of the finest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie. The novel tells the story of a family gathering for their daughter’s wedding to a white jazz musician. The movie adaptation of the novel was turned into a television miniseries by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films that features several Southport’s landmarks including The Brunswick Inn, Bay Street and Southport City Pier.

Brunswick Inn

No matter what book is on your summer reading list, all of the beaches and towns in the Brunswick Islands serve as a serene backdrop for diving into your favorite beach read. Take “A Walk to Remember” through these iconic film and book locations or forge your own path through the Brunswick Islands. Regardless of the itinerary, the Brunswick Islands is a “Safe Haven” for book worms and travelers alike.

For more information on North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands or to plan your next beach vacation, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

Most Instagrammable Places in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Instagrammable Places Sunset Beach

From inspiring generations of beachgoers to renowned authors, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is no stranger to the social media spotlight. Visitors and locals alike are often seen with their cameras out capturing a small piece of what makes these uniquely charming and beautiful communities of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands such special places. With so much to do and see, the Brunswick Islands are not only photo ready, but photo worthy.

Check out our insider tips on how to seek Instagram inspiration for your next trip as well as our list of some of the top Instagrammable places that are sure to give your followers a serious case of vacation envy.

Tips for using Instagram on your next vacation to the Brunswick Islands:

  • Be sure to follow the official NC Brunswick Islands Instagram account – @NCBrunswickIslands.
  • Explore the area by checking out trending hashtags. Popular area hashtags include #NCBrunswickIslands, #BrunswickIslands, #SouthportNC, #CalabashNC, #BaldHeadIsland, #HoldenBeach, #OakIslandNC, #OceanIsleBeach, #SunsetBeachNC and #CaswellBeachNC.
  • Explore even more by geo-tag. Click the location name above the photo to see other photos people have taken there. Let your fellow beachgoers be your guide!
  • Use the bookmarking feature on Instagram to save posts featuring some of your favorite places or to build your own beach bucket list.

Ready to make some photo magic? These spots are sure to be stunning backdrops for your next Instagram post or story!

Ocean Piers

Few sites are more iconically coastal than a scenic ocean pier. At North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands we have a surplus of picture-perfect piers for watching sunrises and sunsets, casting a line or simply taking a stroll. Each of our ocean piers offer special views that make for an unparalleled photo-op.

@nsqr Instagram contest winner

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Tucked away in the dunes of beautiful Bird Island is a mailbox full of secrets. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is a true hidden gem holding small notebooks full of the thoughts, dreams, wishes and prayers of roaming travelers. Take a tranquil stroll along Bird Island to see the mailbox firsthand, soak in the magic and share your story.

Insta_Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Nicholas Sparks in the Brunswick Islands

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has been featured in many of Nicholas Sparks’ books and films. Take a Nicholas Sparks tour around the Brunswick Islands to see, and capture for Instagram, the landmarks used to inspire Sparks’ writing or that were featured in his films. See the restaurant where Katie worked in Safe Haven, take a stroll through the graveyard where Jamie and Landon stargaze in A Walk to Remember or visit the coastal town of Sunset Beach where Hope and Tru met in Every Breath.

Ivan's, Safe Haven

Lighthouses

Lighthouses are a longtime enchanting staple of maritime lore, evoking images of welcoming and serene coastal settings. Whether you are seeking an aerial view or a signature coastal shot, the lighthouses of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are sure to inspire.

Insta_Lighthouse

Dry Aquarium at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Every vacation needs a rain plan, and your Instagram bucket list is no exception. For a visually stunning indoor experience, visit the Museum of Coastal Carolina. Visitors can learn about North Carolina’s natural history while walking through and capturing images of one of the largest dry aquariums on the East coast.

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Calabash Waterfront

Calabash may be known as the “seafood capital of the world,” but that isn’t the only thing it’s known for. With a beautiful, picturesque waterfront there is no telling as to how many Instagramable opportunities await. Watch a jaw-dropping sunrise or sunset over the water, have dinner at one of many waterfront dinning options or grab a sweet treat at the Calabash Creamery. If Calabash isn’t already on your Instagram bucket list then it needs to be added.

Insta_Calabash

Silver Coast Winery

Nestled among the pine trees and North Carolina foliage near Ocean Isle Beach is a well-kept secret known as the Silver Coast Winery. After touring the winery, stroll through the garden or browse through the local art featured in the gallery. The award-winning wines can also be sampled, and celebratory photos taken, at the Silver Coast Winery Tasting and Taproom located in the heart of picturesque Downtown Southport. This is the perfect location to say “cheers” and test out the boomerang photo feature!

Silver Coast winery Ocean Isle Beach

Craft Brews

For even more ways to toast to a vacation well spent and memories well captured, grab a craft brew from one of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ craft breweries. Below is a list of where you can score some local sips and snap some great pics.

Instagrammable Places 0201 Check Six

Southport Yacht Basin

For a quintessential maritime photo-op, add the Southport Yacht Basin to your list of must-visit spots. The beautiful Yacht Basin features the Southport Marina, top notch waterfront dining, and a peaceful gazebo along the Salt Marsh Boardwalk. For an extra bright backdrop, check out Fishy Fishy Café, known for its stellar waterfront dinning and vibrant wall colors. The Yacht Basin is a tranquil site for spending time with loved ones and snapping a shot for the memory books.

Fey winner 2 insta

Old Brunswick Jail Museum

History buffs can venture to the Old Brunswick County Jail Museum in Southport. Constructed in 1904 and used until 1971, the jail has two cells and a runabout on the second floor. Docents offer free tours showing visitors the two cells designed with four bunks, a commode and a wash basin. Visitors can even see graffiti etched by Old Brunswick Jail prisoners. The Brunswick Jail was also the backdrop of the popular film Crimes of the Heart.

Instagrammable Places Old Brunswick County Jail

Holden Beach Waterway

Boasting gorgeous waterfront dining views and fun shots of shrimp boats, the Holden Beach Waterway is a bustling spot for sightseers, diners and social media enthusiasts alike. Great spots to take your shot include the Holden Beach Pavilion and Fishing Pier, Bridgeview Park, and the Provision Company at Holden Beach.

Holden Beach Instagrammable Places

Waterfront Dining

Are you a foodie? Do you love sharing photos of your dinners out while on vacation? Then spice up your food photos by including shots taken at the many waterfront dining options in the Brunswick Islands. The view will be as good as the food!

3796 Ocean Isle Beach Instagrammable Places

Beautiful Beaches

Last but certainly not least are all the beautiful beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our 45 miles of pristine sandy beaches make remarkable blank canvases for both memory making and picture taking. Sit back, relax and watch the likes pour in.

@oibmickey Instagammable Places

The vibrant communities of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are undeniably beautiful and best experienced during an extended stay. To start planning your vacation today, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com or follow us on Instagram at @ncbrunswickislands.

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.