Compiled By Hilary Brady
Bald Head Island
Claim to Fame: BHI is only accessible by boat or ferry, with golf carts the only on-island transportation permitted. Add to that Old Baldy and many unique accommodations and BHI offers history, seclusion, peace, quiet, stunning views and sparkling sand.
Parking: Because no cars are allowed on the island, visitors either take their own boat or hitch a ride on one of the Bald Head Island ferries. Take note that the ferry landing has recently moved from Indigo Plantation to Deep Point Marina. Parking costs $10 per 24 hours, with the first two hours free. Ferry tickets, which cost $15 round trip for adults, $9 for children ages 2 to 12, and free for children 2 and younger, must be purchased in person at the ferry landing. Each ticket has a $1 fuel surcharge, rates vary per season, and reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. The ferry operators suggest that guests arrive at least 30 minutes prior to ferry departure. Ferry schedules can be found online at www.baldheadisland.com, and prices are subject to change.
Know Before You Go: Fishing and surfing are both allowed on Bald Head. Because the island wishes to protect the many hatching sea turtles, they ask that visitors pack up and put away any beach umbrellas or accessories at day’s end. Beach safety officials warn guests to be aware of their surroundings, especially prior to a storm, as jellyfish are known to frequent the island waters. No lifeguards are on duty, but 911 call boxes are located at the front of each beach access in order to maximize guest safety.
Can You Pack Your Pet? Bald Head is one of the few beaches that allow dogs at all times. However, leashes are always required to ensure the safety of the sea turtle population.
Don’t Forget: A journal and camera to record the natural sights and intriguing history. A tram reservation and money for the ferry ride.
Directions: US 17 S to left at 87 S right at 133 S • Left at 211 • Left at E. Moore Street • Right onto Ferry Road at roundabout • Right into Deep Point Marina • Arrive at ferry terminal.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 457-5252
Ferry Questions? Contact (910) 457-5003
Claim to Fame: Another historic beach, home to the Oak Island Life-Saving Station and the beautiful Oak Island lighthouse, OI is also known for its sports: golf, fishing and hunting. Visitors enjoy recreation and relaxation on the island’s 12 miles of scenic beauty.
Parking: A huge perk to Oak Island is its availability of free parking, with plenty of complimentary beachside spots available for visitors. Officials warn guests to be careful of spots assigned to Oak Island residents, which require a sticker to park.
Know Before You Go: Fishing from the surf and the pier is permitted, and surfing is allowed on all areas of the beach except within a safety perimeter of the pier. Tents, shades and umbrellas are allowed, as long as they are down before nightfall. Officials ask that guests be respectful by filling any holes dug in the sand in order to maintain safety of all guests. Other than those simple sunbathing requests, they ask that you “enjoy yourself while you’re here.”
Can You Pack Your Pet? Oak Island allows leashed dogs to visit year-round, with off-leash pets permitted to run and romp on the sand between October 15 and March 15 during the hours of 6 am and 9 am.
Don’t Forget: Golf clubs and binoculars for birdies and beachfront bird-watching.
Directions: US 17 S to left at 87 S • Right at 133 S • Follow 133 S to slight right at E. Oak Island Drive • Arrive at Oak Island.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 278-5011
Claim to Fame: Home to the second brightest lighthouse in the world, Caswell Beach enlightens travelers with its unique history and spectacular sights. Aside from history lessons galore, Caswell is known for its peaceful and family-friendly fun on the sand.
Parking: Parking is free at Caswell Beach, but it is limited. Due to sewer construction that will last until 2011, half of the public parking access, which is located across from the Progress Energy pumping station, is roped off for construction vehicles. Visitors are warned that if they park on the side of the road, a ticket and sand spurs will result.
Know Before You Go: Fishing and surfing are allowed at Caswell, as well as sea turtle hatching observation and crabbing. Like many of the Brunswick Islands, Caswell Beach is sensitive to its sea turtle population. They ask that guests be thoughtful of these endangered creatures by filling any sand holes and removing all personal belongings, including tents, canopies and stacks of beach chairs, before dark. “We love our town and treat it with great respect,” says a town official. “We hope that guests will do the same.”
Can You Pack Your Pet? Pets may also enjoy the sands of Caswell Beach year round as long as they remain on a leash; owners may allow their canines to freely chase waves from dawn to 9 am as long as they remain under strict supervision and control.
Don’t Forget: To attend the Chuckwagon Grub and Beach Bonfire for food, exploration and fun tales about the area’s history.
Directions: US 17 S to left at 87 S • Right at 133 S • Left at 211 • Continue onto Country Club Road • Continue onto Caswell Beach Road • Arrive at Caswell Beach.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 278-5471
Claim to Fame: Voted one of the Top 10 Beaches by USA Today and recognized as a Best Family Beach by National Geographic Traveler, Holden Beach has made headlines. Nearly 15,000 people enjoy the beach’s many restaurants, amusements and fishing piers each summer.
Parking: Parking is free at various designated places throughout Holden Beach.
Know Before You Go: Fishing from the pier and the surf are allowed at Holden Beach, with surfing acceptable in all areas except within a pole-to-pole area of the pier. Beach shades such as tents and umbrellas are allowed on the beach, but officials request that they be removed at dusk. “That’s all though,” says a town official. “We’re a family beach. We keep it simple here.”
Can You Pack Your Pet? Holden Beach is human-only between May 20 and September 10, with the exception of the hours between 5 pm and 9 am when dogs are allowed on leash. In the off-peak season, between September 10 and May 20, leashed pets are allowed at all times throughout the day.
Don’t Forget: Your inner child. Go carts and ice cream shops, arcades and carousels offer countless opportunities for the young and young at heart.
Directions from 28451: US 17 S • Left at Sellers Road NW until it turns into Holden Beach Road • Remain on Holden Beach Road until right at Ocean Blvd W • Arrive at Holden Beach.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 842-6488
Ocean Isle Beach
Claim to Fame: Ocean Isle is one of Brunswick’s most popular beaches, yet it offers families an environment of true respite. From casual oceanfront dining to upscale take-out, Ocean Isle caters to every vacation itinerary.
Parking: Like its fabulous Brunswick beach neighbors, Ocean Isle Beach offers plenty of free public parking.
Know Before You Go: Fishing is allowed at Ocean Isle Beach, with surfing permitted in the areas east of Monroe Street and west of Oxford Street. Cabanas, canopies, tents and awnings are not allowed on the beach at any time. Umbrellas are permissible but must be taken down by 7 pm. While being safe and considerate, officials encourage visitors to enjoy all the area has to offer. “Our causeway is just gorgeous; the most beautiful around,” says an Ocean Isle Beach official. “The huge amount of care and concern that our local government pour into Ocean Isle has made this beach absolutely beautiful.”
Can You Pack Your Pet? With a motto of “pooper scooper ordinance in effect,” it’s clear that Ocean Isle authorities welcome all guests, two-legged and four, as long as they leave nothing behind. Leashed dogs are allowed on the Ocean Isle Beach strand only during the hours of 6 pm and 9 am, with no pet trespassing allowed at any time in public access or parking areas.
Don’t Forget: A fishing pole and a bucket of bait; the Ocean Isle Fishing Pier is a local favorite.
Directions: US 17 S to left at US 17 Business S • Left at Village Road • Continue onto 179 S • Left at Causeway Drive • Left onto E 2nd Street • Arrive at Ocean Isle Beach.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 579-2166
Claim to Fame: Its rare pontoon bridge at the entrance of the town makes Sunset Beach a beautiful experience from the moment you begin your visit. The beach’s charm and tradition attract many interested in old-fashioned and laid-back relaxation.
Parking: The free parking trend continues with Sunset Beach offering multiple places and spaces for vehicles. Parking is permitted at the gazebo, along the side of Main Street, as well as on the side streets. Law enforcement offers the go ahead to park anywhere along a roadway as long as you are not blocking a driveway or beach access.
Know Before You Go: Surf fishing is allowed and fishing from the private pier is permitted for a fee. Surfing is accepted and encouraged along the beach, with the exception of the safety zone surrounding the pier. As with all other beaches, Sunset Beach allows all beach gear as long as it is broken down by, you guessed it, sunset. Law enforcement and town officials ask that visitors enjoy themselves, while also being safe and smart.
Can You Pack Your Pet? In order to protect guests from the uncomfortable experience of dogs shaking sand on their suntan, Sunset Beach bans pets from the beach during the day hours (8 am to 6 pm) during peak season, the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. Also, they ask that pet owners please be respectful by removing pet waste promptly in order to protect the health and safety of other guests and residents.
Don’t Forget: The clubs. From putt-putt to championship courses, Sunset Beach offers options for all age ranges and skill sets.
Directions: US 17 S to left at 904 E • Right at Sunset Blvd N • Arrive at Sunset Beach.
Beach Questions? Contact (910) 579-6297