Topsail Island, located along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks between Cape Lookout and Cape Fear, is a 26-mile barrier island and a true beach getaway. Uncrowded pristine beaches and true Southern hospitality await visitors to this island vacation destination comprised of three unique beach towns: Surf City, Topsail Beach and North Topsail Beach.Topsail Island was a filming location for the movie "Nights in Rodanthe," based on the book by best-selling North Carolina author Nicholas Sparks. This article will tell you how to make the most of your visit to tranquil Topsail Island for some welcome oceanside rest and relaxation.
Things You'll Need
- Love of the coast
- A good book for lounging on the beach
- Boogie board
The first step for an enjoyable visit to North Carolina's Topsail Island is to gather area and vacation information. The Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start in learning about Topsail Island's many offerings and attractions. Upon request, the Chamber sends out a complimentary guide detailing local accommodations, restaurants, shopping, recreation opportunities, local attractions, information regarding area history and more. A Topsail Island visitors guide can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (800) 626-2780. The Greater Topsail Chamber of Commerce's website also provides valuable online information (see Resources), as do the Pender County and Onslow County Tourism bureau websites (see Resources). Topsail Island is divided between both Pender County and Onslow County in North Carolina. Another complimentary Topsail Island visitor information resource is Topsail Coaster Magazine. This annual area guide is mailed out free of charge to those who send an email request to email@example.com (see Resources). Accommodations on Topsail Island include mostly private beach house rentals and waterfront condominium rentals, with a few island hotels and motels rounding out the lodging selection.
Consider planning your visit to North Carolina's Topsail Island around one of the area's major festivals or events. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy the North Carolina Blueberry Festival in nearby Burgaw, lots of waterfront Fourth of July celebrations, and the popular Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festival in August. Also during the summer, the Topsail Island Turtle Rehabilitation Center, a unique facility which cares for sick and injured sea turtles, is open to the public. The director of the turtle hospital has been named an Animal Planet Hero of the Year. In the fall, popular events include the Tasting with Topsail Wine and Food Event in September, the North Carolina Spot Festival in nearby Hampstead where local seafood is showcased (September), and October's Autumn with Topsail Festival showcasing the best in area seafood, arts and crafts, beach music and more. During the winter, especially during the holidays, Topsail Island shines with lighted boat flotillas, parades and other seasonal activities.
North Carolina's Topsail Island is located near the center of the state's coastline. When traveling by car from points west, take I-40 East to NC 210 to its nearby intersection with US 17 North near Wilmington, North Carolina. Follow NC 17 North through Hampstead, North Carolina. Just after Hampstead, turn right onto Hwy 210 which then becomes Hwy 50. This leads onto Topsail Island, crossing over an historic swing bridge on your way onto Topsail. When traveling by car from points north or south, take I-95 South to I-40, and follow the same directions noted above into Topsail Island.The closest major airport is Wilmington International Airport, approximately 30 minutes' drive from Topsail Island. Rental car transportation is available at Wilmington International.
Topsail Island is home to several unique attractions including the Topsail Island Missiles and More Museum located in Topsail Beach. This museum, open on select days from April through mid-October and at other times by appointment, details Topsail Island's interesting history from the age of piracy to its Native American history, and the island's fascinating World War II military history which makes Topsail Island unique. In the 1940s, Topsail Island was chosen as the site for a secret guided missile program to test the success of the ramjet engine which can push an aircraft past the speed of sound. Because of the important developments that occured here, Topsail Island became to jet flight development what Kitty Hawk, North Carolina is to propeller flight. Visit the Missiles and More Museum website for more information (see Resources).Another unique island attraction is the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, also located in Topsail Beach. This facility is the first of its kind in North Carolina, caring for sick and injured sea turtles until they can be returned to their ocean home. The facility's founder has been named an Animal Planet Hero of the Year. Public visits are encouraged during the summer. Hours vary. Visit http://www.seaturtlehospital.org for additional information.A noted major attraction in nearby Wilmington (about a 30-minute drive) is the Battleship North Carolina, open for daily tours. Visitors can tour this true-to-history World War II battleship from the inside out. A video history of the battleship is offered prior to the self-paced tour.
Natural attractions are abundant on and around North Carolina's Topsail Island. Visitors enjoy kayaking (rent a kayak or bring your own) and guided boat tours on the calm protected waters of Topsail Sound. Many visitors enjoy kayaking to the Permuda Island North Carolina Coastal Reserve, a 50-acre island showcasing Topsail's natural beauty from native plants to coastal wildlife.Topsail Island is also a stop on the North Carolina Coastal Birding Trail so visitors should bring their binoculars to spot natural attractions in flight. Topsail Island's beaches are also a well-known shelling location and a unique hotspot for finding fossilized sharks' teeth. Surfing, pier and surf fishing, and kiteboarding are also popular on-the-water attractions.
Another not-to-be missed part of any visit to North Carolina's Topsail Island is the area's beautiful beaches. Topsail Island is made up of three quiet and family-friendly beach towns including Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail Beach. These beaches are relatively uncrowded, even during the summer, allowing for unhindered sandcastle building, seashell hunting, dolphin watching and just plain enjoying the sunshine. Many vacationers choose Topsail Island as an alternative to nearby Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as they seek a quieter, more relaxed getaway.