Discover the Best of Southern Hospitality: Brunswick Islands, North Carolina
by Stefanie Michaels
It’s no secret that California has the corner on the map when it comes to beaches. But, on the East coast they do it a little differently.
On a recent getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, I learned what it truly means to slow it down a notch or two. Between the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach, this Southern part of North Carolina’s coastline boasts five barrier islands home to six beaches along 45 miles of shore.
By day, Brunswick Islands lures anglers, golfers, and sun bunnies alike. Come nightfall, the sky twinkles brighter than any starlit stepping foot on a red carpet. It’s so picturesque that I assure you if you go, you’ll be hard pressed to delete the thousands of photos you’ll collect. And, the memories made here will be well worth the flight from West to East Coasts.
Whether you fly into Myrtle Beach or Wilmington, it’s under an hour’s drive to the quaint towns that dot Brunswick Islands’ shoreline. You can settle in at the Sunset Inn which was recently named North Carolina’s most romantic hotel.
Although, while there are endless luxury home rentals across all five islands, you may prefer one of the numerous boutique bed and breakfasts in the quaint town of Southport. Some favorites include LaPolena, Robert Ruark Inn and the Riverview Inn. Don’t miss scheduling a treatment at the nearby Coastal Massage and Spa.
North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are actually dubbed the North Carolina Golf Coast with over 30 world-class championship courses. And, the islands aren’t called the Golf Coast for nothing. Legends such as Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples, Tim Cate, Rees Jones and a few others consulted on the courses’ design.
Each has its own draw, but one you’ll be sad to miss is Oyster Bay Golf Links with its scenic Spanish-moss draped live oaks, magnolias, and marshes.
Known for its famous Calabash-style seafood, the nearby town of Calabash is full of kitsch and charm. But, if fried seafood isn’t your jam, The Oyster Rock is situated along the Calabash River.
Try the copious selection of fresh oysters among other dishes making this hotspot the most favored restaurant of the region. And, if you still crave oysters on your trip, head to Southport for a steamer pot at Moore Street Oyster Bar before strolling the downtown streets lined with cute shops and other fun restaurants and bars.
Like any beach community, Brunswick Islands offers a multitude of salt life-ish activities. Plus, it’s one of the most dog-friendly places I’ve experienced. For the most peaceful of days, you can’t beat Sunset Beach. But, around nightfall, your point of zen reigns just about anywhere you want.
In some spots, you might be able to see both the sun rise and set over the ocean. This phenomenon starts in late fall and is due to the vernal and autumnal equinoxes and the beaches’ unique placement running east-west. Views of the Milky Way will start to emerge on the island beaches in early spring, with peak season beginning in March.
All you need is a bit of time. Whether you just want some beach time, or prefer shaking the hands of a few locals – it won’t take you long to catch onto the sweet Southern charm of Brunswick Islands.
Did you know?
The waters surrounding Brunswick Islands are home to a unique species of shark called the “Bonnethead Shark.” This shark has a distinctive shovel-shaped head, and unlike most other sharks, it feeds mainly on seagrass rather than fish or other marine animals.
In fact, the Bonnethead Shark has the ability to digest and extract nutrients from the tough cellulose walls of seagrass, making it one of the few known omnivorous shark species. This adaptation is thought to have evolved as a result of the shark’s habitat in shallow, grassy areas where prey is scarce.