Coastal NC

VOL14ISS1 2018

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34 THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — CAPE FEAR NC | VOLUME 14—ISSUE 1 BEACH TOWNS Beach Towns of North Carolina BY VERA WILSON The sun is high and the smell of sunscreen is everywhere–it's summertime and coastal North Carolina is the place to be. From the Brunswick County beaches bordering South Carolina to Emerald Isle, and further north on the Crystal Coast, these beaches represent the best of what the state has to offer. Their nature preserves, golden- sand shores and parks coexist magically with classic beach homes, distinctive shopping and award- winning restaurants. Some communities treasure their privacy while others seem to shout the more the merrier! A visit to one or two may take you back in time, while many others have access to every modern amenity known to man. In other words, there's a place to match everyone's diverse tastes. And since the completion of Interstate 40 in the 1980s, it's easy access to all beach towns anchored by the city of Wilmington. The town of Wrightsville Beach is essentially two islands. This four-mile long barrier island chocked full of spacious homes and charming cottages has the Atlantic Ocean as its front yard and Banks Channel in the back. Not a day goes by that you can't see sailboats and kayaks as you cross the bridge. Harbor Island, located between Banks Channel and the Intracoastal Waterway, has an assortment of homes, shops and restaurants, including many by the water. Add a park featuring summertime concerts, a museum offering summer camps and a yacht club teaching sailing and there's little reason to leave, but there's loads of shopping and dining just minutes away in Wilmington. If you want to escape the summer crowds, take the boat out to Masonboro Island Reserve, an uninhabited island nearby. For real privacy, rent or buy on Figure 8 Island, a private community of high-end homes that sits in the northern part of the Cape Fear region. As summer fades into fall, the beach scene takes on a slower pace. Relax at the Village of Bald Head Island's Roast and Toast on the Coast for an old-fashioned oyster roast, wine tasting and live music. No cars on the island only enhances the beauty of the 10,000 acres designated as a nature preserve. Miss the sunrise? No worries; due to the island's unique position, you can scurry to another end for the sunset. Head to the Carolina Beach and Kure Beach fishing piers for ideal fishing conditions as the crowds are smaller in the fall, but the king mackerel and flounder are larger. Take a blanket to the Sunset at Sunset (Beach) event held in October at the town's Ingram Planetarium. Get a jump on your Christmas shopping at the October Autumn with Topsail event at Topsail Beach which features hundreds of regional artists and fun events for the whole family. Winters are gorgeous on these North Carolina beaches, and the moderate climate means joggers and surfers are still out in full force. It's not unusual to have a few days in January and February where the temperatures reach the 70s or even 80s, so don't pack your bathing suit too far back in the closet. Yes, there is the occasional opportunity to build a snowman–with sunglasses and a tropical drink in hand, of course. The highlight of the season is the North Carolinas Holiday Flotilla in the town of Wrightsville Beach, held every Saturday after Thanksgiving and featuring fireworks, a lighted boat parade and other holiday activities. Laissez les bon temps rouler at Oak Island's Mardi Gras by the Sea Festival and Parade in February. Spring brings rebirth, and the beach towns have rallied to protect the hatching and nesting of turtles, primarily loggerheads, in their midst. It's fascinating to watch the annual rituals, usually occurring between May and October, and closely monitored by turtle patrols like the Holden Beach Turtle Watch. It's a wonderful way to teach children to value and respect nature. Don't forget to wear green at Emerald Isle's St. Patrick's Festival held in early spring.[] surf, sun, boating, fishing, shopping, et al.

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