From Calabash to Bald Head Island, North Carolina's Brunswick Islands offer a treasure trove of charming coastal towns along the state's southernmost coast. In fact, the Brunswick Islands comprise ten different coastal communities, each with its own character. And with six beaches stretched across five barrier islands, you'll find a range of tastes, activities, and interests as varied as the members of your family. Whether it's wildlife and nature, small town charm, endless family fun, quiet seclusion, uncrowded shoreline, resort-like beaches, championship golf, your love of all things maritime, fishing or delicious seafood, you will find it and more in this little slice of paradise.
Here are just a few options that will certainly make your beach vacation extra special and help create memories that will last a lifetime.
Climb the Oak Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located in Caswell Beach, the least populated of all the island beaches. The lighthouse stands as its beacon at 153 feet tall. It was completed in 1958 at a total cost of only $110,000. You can climb the ships ladder steps (not the typical spiral staircase) up to the observation deck where you can get an elevated, 360-degree scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean and inland waters of the Cape Fear River.
Take a Wooden Boat Ride on the Lockwood Folly River. Southport hosts the wooden boat show every year and 2019 marked the show's 10-year anniversary. Dean Dosher, a 70-year-old local craftsman, along with his brother have been building boats since they were small children. They debuted their four-year project, The “Ramona,” a 36-foot-long fishing boat with hand crafted cypress and a mahogany interior at last year's show and now take visitors on excursions down the river.
Walk to Kindred Spirit. Nicholas Sparks is a beloved romantic author and screenwriter who chooses North Carolina as a backdrop for much of his writing. His 2018 New York Times bestseller "Every Breath" is no different, being set in Sunset Beach. The area and the Kindred Spirit mailbox figure prominently in the novel. So what is it? On a secluded stretch of beach about 30 minutes from the nearest public access point, 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. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox holds the wishes, thoughts, prayers and dreams of those who share and bare their soul and draw comfort from the act of doing so. It's such a beautiful spot to find some peace.
Do a Golf Cart Tour. Recently named 'America's Happiest Seaside Town' by Coastal Living magazine, Southport is steeped in history and picturesque beauty. It has a charm that has not only attracted visitors, but the movie industry as well. Films, to name just a few, such as "Safe Haven" starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough and "A Walk to Remember" with Mandy Moore both feature scenes shot in Southport. But it's more than just a movie set - Southport is located where the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway meet.
Drink Some Wine. No beach vacation is complete without sampling some of the local spirits. Check out Silver Coast Winery, Brunswick County's first winery located just inland of Ocean Isle Beach. All of their wines are produced in-house with grapes that are grown regionally. Silvercoast has won over 300 national and international awards for their wines, modeled after traditional, classic and European styles.
"Tourism is important to Brunswick Islands. It is our number one industry. It really is the backbone of our economy." -- Mitzi York, Executive Director, North Carolina's Brunswick Islands
Dining with a View
+ The Oyster Rock (Calabash)
+ Jink's Creek Waterfront Grille (Ocean Isle Beach)
+ Inlet View Bar & Grill (Shallotte)
+ Oliver's on the Cape Fear (Southport)
+ Provision Company (Holden Beach)
Do Your Part
Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization
These folks know the business of protecting sea turtles. The Brunswick Islands beaches are home to a multitude of nests managed by protection organizations. These organizations seek to educate locals and visitors about conservation practices and the importance of keeping these amazing sea creatures safe. Sea turtles are at risk from many factors, including habitat destruction, entanglement in fishing gear, hunting and egg collection, climate change, pollution and disorientation due to artificial lights. Several of the beaches offer "Turtle Talks" during the summer in order to provide insight in to ways to help protect this endangered species. OIBSeaTurtles.org