Brunswick County Beaches & Towns
Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island, historically Smith Island, is a village located on the east side of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County, North Carolina, Since the days of notorious pirates like Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet, Bald Head Island has been attracting curious explorers. Reachable only by ferry or private boat, Bald Head Island is now the perfect island retreat to get away from the everyday. This is everything you love about an unplugged beach stay – and all your vacation needs are right here on the island.
Bald Head Island marks where the coastline swings from a north-south orientation to run east to west. The island got its name from a bare sand dune that pokes out of the surrounding forests—it looked like a bald head from the sea.
If you've ever enjoyed the delicious flavor of lightly breaded and fried seafood, you already know a little about what makes Calabash, NC famous. Here in the Seafood Capital of the World, visitors are often surprised to learn the distinctive style of seafood they've grown to love is actually named after this picturesque fishing village. Shrimp, clams, fish, and oysters are coated in a light batter and quickly fried to lock in their freshness.
In the late 40s and early 50s, Calabash became known for its seafood and was named the "Seafood Capital of the World." Today's Calabash is no longer the fishing mecca it once was, but it still maintains its fishing village charm.
If a breathtaking view of the serene beach and lush marsh is what you're looking for in a beach vacation, you'll find it here. Caswell Beach is home to Oak Island Lighthouse, the 153-foot sentinel that's been guarding the coast since 1958. If you're up for the climb, the view from the observation deck will give you just the right perspective to see how perfect this section of the island is for a family beach vacation designed to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River with long sandy beaches and mild weather, Caswell Beach is the ideal setting for rest and relaxation. The lack of a commercial district only emphasizes the serene surroundings.
Holden Beach, with its distinction as one of the best family beaches in the country by National Geographic Traveler, is the obvious choice. Holden Beach offers small-town charm and unspoiled beauty, which is perhaps why families return year after year to relive old memories and make new ones… like chasing ghost crabs with a flashlight during an evening stroll, or grabbing a bike and pedaling to the far eastern tip of the island to Lockwood Folly Inlet.
Holden Beach is a sub-tropical, barrier island located on the coast of North Carolina, midway between Wilmington, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC. Holden Beach boasts the perfect family seaside getaway with secluded white sandy beaches alongside the Atlantic Ocean.
Although in NC's Brunswick Islands we are known for our beaches, you won't want to miss out on this inland town buzzing with activity. Leland's location provides proximity to all things fun, from quick access to the beaches of the Brunswick Islands to the attractions and historic sites of nearby Wilmington.
Explore the 900-plus acre Brunswick Nature Park to encounter North Carolina's coastal wildlife in its natural habitat. Or paddle down the Brunswick River where you may come upon osprey, egrets, and eagles.
When you envision a classic family beach vacation, you're most likely picturing Oak Island, whether you know it yet or not. That nostalgic feeling you get when you think of a family outing on bicycles complete with bells and baskets, an ice cream parlor after a round of mini-golf, or casting a line off a big ocean pier is what family memories at Oak Island are made of. It's no wonder this timeless place has been attracting visitors since the early 19th century. And after all this time, the familiar, uncrowded beaches still greet anyone who visits this quiet community.
Oak Island is over 12 miles long and averages about one mile across, making it Brunswick County's largest island.
Ocean Isle Beach
If it's a more relaxing type of fun you're wanting, amazingly enough, you're still in the right place at Ocean Isle Beach. Nothing beats basking in the sun on a beach towel for the better part of the day. Local restaurants and hangouts with outdoor decks and waterfront views are always inviting. However you decide to spend it, a vacation at Ocean Isle Beach will always be time well spent. Family-friendly, white sand beaches with lots of restaurants, local attractions, events, and outdoor activities for everyone, Ocean Isle is the perfect destination for everyone.
The eight-mile-long stretch of Ocean Isle Beach is located on the southern coastline of North Carolina. Ocean Isle Beach is where Brunswick County's first high-rise buildings were constructed, and this coastal barrier island was incorporated as the Town of Ocean Isle Beach in 1959.
Steeped in history and picturesque beauty, there is little wonder why Coastal Living Magazine named Southport "America's Happiest Seaside Town." A visit to this historic maritime town takes you back into a distant past of pirates and privateers, antebellum Southern belles, and blockade runners. Seafarers have been frequenting this community since as far back as the early 1500s, and today, Southport is as popular as it has ever been.
Southport, renamed in 1887 but established in the 1700s as Smithville, is a half-hour drive from Wilmington, a short ferry ride from Fort Fisher, and the gateway to two true beach resorts: Oak Island and Bald Head Island.
The southern-most Brunswick Islands beach, Sunset Beach, was recently included on National Geographic's list of 21 Best Beaches In The World, and rightfully so. If it's sweeping views of seemingly endless sand and peaceful serenity you're longing for, put this beach at the top of your list. When Sunset is part of your name, there is a certain level of expectation set for the type of experience visitors can expect during their stay. At Sunset Beach, it's more than just the day's end that paints a breathtaking picture in the sky.
Sunset Beach sits near the North Carolina state line and is one of the area's smallest beach towns. The locals take pride in the fact that it's one of the last old-fashioned beach resorts and has managed to avoid any major building and growth spurts.