Sunset Beach & Ocean Isle, NC

By Leslie Moore

Sunset Beach & Ocean Isle, NC

This month, Sasee journeys to the golden Sunset Beach and the quaint Ocean Isle. Just a hop, skip and a bridge away is North Carolina’s southernmost unique barrier island! Trust me my South End friends, with miles and miles of powder white sand, Ocean Isle is one of the loveliest places to bask and glow in the sun-danced waves. Snug between historic Wilmington and the hustling Myrtle Beach, there is a leisurely charm that you will have no choice, but to indulge!

But what if I told you, the beautiful sunsets giving Sunset Beach its namesake, was once called Bald Beach? I wouldn’t blame you if you chuckled. The town began in 1955 when there was no Island access except by boat. A pontoon swing bridge was installed in 1958, possibly the only bridge of its kind that remained in operation on the east coast until it was decommissioned only six years ago in 2010. Illuminating a tranquil lure is exactly what visiting beach lovers and lifelong residents love about this silky, soft stretch of sand. If a relaxed lifestyle is what you seek, both islands offer the finest, quiet beaches hosting some of the most unique establishments to dine and shop. See for yourself, what makes the most southern parts of North Carolina so special!

If you are like me, your day does not start until a warm cup of coffee sits perfectly in your hand. At Sunset Beach Waterfront Market, you can sip on coffee brewed from beans that were locally home-roasted and delivered fresh to the market while browsing through the local produce! Established as a means to bring the area’s top vendors of homemade and homegrown products to the hands of Sunset Beach’s families and visiting friends, it has grown to include select artisans selling their fine jewelry, original art, homemade spices, baked goods, home canned jams and more! At the market, locals and visitors mingle over live music while enjoying the beautiful views and ocean breeze.

What’s your favorite musical snack? Blues, Beach, Rock, Pop, Motown, Bluegrass, Country? Sunset Beach Concert Series offers the best assortment of all genres! Bring your lawn chairs to the Village Park at Queen Anne Street every Wednesday evening for free concerts, now through August 31st! If you arrive early, take a stroll through the food court, featuring some of Sunset’s best – Papa John’s Pizza & Wings, Dixieland Kettle Corn, Marco Enterprises Food and Sunset Slush Classic Italian Ice.

Have you been wondering about the different wildlife and nature we share this beautiful coast with? “What kind of fish is that, mister?” The question that started it all! The query that sparked Stuart Ingram’s vision of sharing his knowledge of nature and science to create The Museum of Coastal Carolina, opened in 1991 in Ocean Isle Beach. A quest promised to stimulate each visitor’s interest in and understanding of the natural science, environmental and cultural history of the coastal region of the Carolinas. And years later, Ingram, known to always point out different constellations to his family and friends on warm summer nights, opened Ingram Planetarium in 2002 in Sunset Beach. Grab your curious little ones or your nature-loving girlfriends and discover the life and the stars illuminating the Carolinas at the many summer events and exhibits taking place at both venues!

History lesson – check! Fresh and authentic produce and souvenirs – check! A musical snack, to indulge our rhythmic appetite – check! Now, let’s shop! Both beautiful islands host some of the most friendly and memorable shopping destinations on the east coast. Rarely found, Brynn Elizabeth Jewelers in Ocean Isle Beach offers completely custom jewelry design and creation. Preserving the sentimental attachment to an antique charm or appreciating the life and stories behind each piece of jewelry is an accessory you can’t find at any other jewelry store. Blue Heron Gallery in Sunset Beach has become the leading house showcasing many artists and artisans from across the USA and Canada. Filled wall to wall with beautiful things, be sure to stop in and see for yourself one of the best collections of fine arts and crafts! Not-so-buried treasure troves, Sunset Beach holds two of the finest fashion gems. The standard for beautiful clothing that is both trendy and timeless, Island Breeze, brings the most exclusive fashions and accessories to where the cool wind blows and the sun always shines! Then there is Bleu Boutique, the cute little shop in the middle of the block! Okay, ladies, if you crave vintage wears, wonderful goods and timeless boutique lines, then here you have found it. Whimsical lace, days gone by ruffles, modern spins on the timeless classics, a haven for the retro girl in all of us!

Boy did I work up an appetite after my fabulous day as an Island girl! At Inlet View Bar & Grill, it does not matter where you sit. Pull up any chair and enjoy the beauty of the Shallotte River or the Intracoastal Waterway or the Atlantic Ocean! Always serving three meals a day, this scenic three-story bar and grill offers a delicious meal for any craving. Or maybe we dine in Jamaica for lunch! Nested in Ocean Isle, The Sugar Shack, serving Jamaican cuisine, was opened in 1996 and has since become the popular meeting/eating place for locals and a “must” for many visitors. Bringing the perfect reflection of Jamaica to our coast, they bring spicy, sweet and hot to shining Ocean Isle! And the tour around the world does not have to end! A favorite past-time whether on vacation or “staycation,” is a good ‘ole wine-tasting. Ladies and gents have been sipping at Silver Coast Winery since it raised its first glass in 2002. Silver Coast’s expertly crafted wines are modeled after traditional, classic, European styles. Offering full tours of their production facility along with daily wine tastings, they are sure to have a wine that perfectly pairs with your palate.

Cheers friends, to the beautiful Ocean Isle and the mesmerizing Sunset Beach!

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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