Situated along the southeastern most region of North Carolina are the sandy white powder beaches of Brunswick County. Sapphire blue waters and blazing red and gold sunsets make these islands among the most beautiful on the east coast. Famous for their ideal location, the Brunswick Islands are located between the major commercial areas of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina. These coastal communities offer a peaceful and relaxing trip. Close enough to bigger towns so you can enjoy whatever entertainment, restaurants or shopping you desire, but far enough away from the traffic and mundane city routine that you can sit on the porch and hear the waves crash and gulls sing. Brunswick County's beaches encompass more than 45 miles of white sandy beaches. Each beach has its own distinct characteristics, but even with the differences, they each share the premise of family fun.
While other beach communities have much traffic and noise due to increased commercialism, you won't find enormous buildings or the bright fluorescent glow of neon lights along this stretch of coast, nor is there an orange cast to the skyline at night. Whether it is your first time truly experiencing the wonders of the stars over the ocean in an otherwise midnight sky or it has just been so long that it seems new, you can actually look at the night sky and discover (or rediscover) how vividly the bright stars shine.
The pace on the Brunswick Islands is slower than in larger cities, and the locals are more relaxed. Venture to the shores of Ocean Isle Beach or Holden Beach at night to watch a loggerhead turtle hatching. The Holden Beach Turtle Patrol monitors turtle nestings and helps to ensure that these protected species are kept from danger while hatching. In July and August, the patrol holds an educational program for families and young ones. If you are willing to stay up a little past bedtime you can experience one of the most amazing scenes of nature, hundreds of baby turtles that "boil" out of the sand to find their way into the Atlantic Ocean.
Short sleeve weather is common in the winter months and many avid golfers have nicknamed the southern coastline of Brunswick County the "Golf Coast" for a multitude of reasons. Nationally rated as one of the top areas to play golf, there are 36 area golf courses, most of them championship courses, and many are often listed in well known golf magazines as some of the best courses along the entire East Coast. One of the reasons for the multitude of courses is the sub-tropical climates, mild throughout the late winter and early spring and proving a year round golfing destination dream.
The beautiful coastal communities surrounding these courses offer some of the most scenic landscapes on and off the course. From the water views to the ocean breeze, the natural beauty of the area brings in visitors from all over. Riding down the green in your golf cart watching the pelicans play in the Intracoastal Waterway has a very relaxing effect on the golfers who visit here and they tend to want to repeat the experience as often as possible! Designed by some of the best known architects and professional golfers, these courses are also challenging. World renowned golfers such as Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples, Clyde Johnson and Rees Jones, to name a few, have left their mark in Brunswick County along with their financial support of these courses.
From "Golf Coast" to Gulf Coast, sportsmen also come to the area for the great fishing. The The Gulf Stream, located 30 to 45 nautical miles off shore depending on the season, hosts a variety of fish and wildlife. You can experience some of the best fishing along the Brunswick Islands and depending on the season, you can catch everything from king mackerel and wahoo to blue crabs and sharks. Rent a boat and drive from Sunset Beach to the unspoiled landscape of Byrd Island to enjoy a day of fishing from the boat or sandy shore.
Celebrating some of the most delectable creatures of the sea, Brunswick County hosts the annual North Carolina Oyster Festival. Originated in 1980, today the festival draws nearly 30,000 visitors over the festival's three day celebration. It offers everything oysters; cooked how you like 'em. Broiled, baked, steamed, fried and even raw, more than 275 bushels of oysters are served each year. Though it sounds like fun and games, the oyster shucking contest is no joke. There is an amateur and professional shucking category. The winners in each travel to the National Oyster Shucking Championship held in Maryland. If contestants win up north, they get to go across the big pond to the World Oyster Shucking Championships held in Ireland. The oyster stew cook-off ensures a wide variety of the coastal favorite, but there are many different types of food vendors at the festival as well. If you love seafood, you will certainly find something to make your vacationing palate sing.
Travel to the lighthouses of Brunswick County and visit the Bald Head Island Lighthouse, affectionately known as "Old Baldy." Travel up more than one hundred steps to find one of the most spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. Visit Caswell Beach to view the Oak Island Lighthouse, which boasts the second brightest light of any other lighthouse. In nearby Fort Caswell, you can enjoy an education day of fun around the historic area.
For shopping, each island has unique specialty shops to discover, but the largest commercialized area on the Brunswick Islands is Oak Island and Southport. For a wealth of diversity in shopping, activities, attractions and cuisine, the area around Oak Island provides the perfect day trip or week stay if you'd rather stay closer to this historic district shopping.
While more and more people are coming to Brunswick County to live, it remains one of the favorite tourist spots for families along the southeastern coast. With peaceful shores, temperate climate and sheltered location between two major resort-type areas to the north and south, these non-packed areas offer great beaches for visitors to come and kick back with family and friends.