Sunset Beach, North Carolina was recently included on National Geographic’s list of 21 Best Beaches in the World. It is the southern-most island in North Carolina with Ocean Isle Beach bordering to the north and Calabash bordering to the south. It is also considered a part of the Myrtle Beach Metropolitan area.
Sunset Beach is a beautiful, serene beach with little commercialization. The wide stretch of beach separates the surf from the marsh and is uninterrupted by boardwalks or high rises. Sunset Beach also exceeds its name. From late fall through early spring, you can watch the sun both rise and set over the water due to the island’s south-facing position.
Due to the low commercial atmosphere and undisturbed sand dunes, it serves as a natural habitat to deer, fox, rabbits, birds, a lone bobcat, hawks, eagles, falcons, seagulls, sanderlings, pipers, killdeer, ghost crabs and nesting sea turtles. It gets the name, “The Silver Coast” from the super fine, extra soft, silver-colored sand, and you can find dolphin, coquina clams, crabs, cannonball jellies, sand dollars and other shells in the ocean and on the shore.
In 1955, Sunset Beach was purchase from the Brooks family by Mannon C Gore for $60,000 and the name changed from Bald Beach to Sunset Beach. To give vehicle access to Sunset Beach, Mr. Gore designed, installed and operated the original pontoon swing bridge in 1958. Until the new 65-foot high-rise bridge was built and opened on November 11, 2010, the swing bridge was the only access to the 2.5-mile island.
Sunset Beach has become a favorite for many beach lovers due to the moderate temperatures, relaxed lifestyle and southern hospitality. It is a member of the North Carolina Birding Trail with multiple locations to view a variety of unique birds in their natural habitats at the coast. There is also a public boat ramp which makes boating, kayaking and fishing easy to access.
There are also quite a few things available for you to do, see and enjoy. Below is a list of some that we recommend:
- Visit Historic Kindred Spirit Mailbox—For more than 35 years, the weathered post office box has operated and is now an established landmark which thousands of nature lovers visit annually. On the west end of Bird Island/Sunset Beach, tucked high in a sand dune, the mysterious mailbox has been the muse for hundreds of photographers and artists.
- Rent a Kayak with a Guided Tour—Explore the pristine estuaries and channels unique to Sunset Beach with Summertide Tours. See the abundant wildlife such as Pelicans, Blue Herons, Sea Turtles, Sea Otters and dolphins. You can also enjoy an afternoon of fishing for Red Drum, Sea Bass and trout.
- Boat, Jet Ski, Fishing or Bird Watching—Surfers, Sunbathers, Scuba divers, and bird watchers come from all over the country to enjoy the Intracoastal waterway and network of rivers and tributaries filled with wildlife. You can take your own boat or hire a charter to fish for mackerel or tuna or kayak through the marsh creeks.
- Visit Bird Island—It is a 1,300-acre State Preserve barrier island that is connected to Sunset Beach and is home to Loggerhead turtles and the purple sandpiper which is found only on Bird Island. You can reach the island by boating, walking or biking along the beach. The island terrain serves as habitats and nesting areas for various species that are threatened or endangered.
- Enjoy Free Outdoor Concerts—Every Wednesday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Sunset Beach Concerts present top area performers at the Village Park Gazebo and Park featuring a variety of music styles.
- Play Golf on Championship Courses—Sunset Beach offers seven distinct golf courses built by the nation’s top golf course designers. They are some of the most diverse and challenging golf courses in North Carolina.
- Browse a Local Famers’ and Artisans’ Market—Weekly from May through October, on Thursday mornings from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., there is baked goods, fresh produce, artworks, and a range of quality handcrafted items to purchase. It is located at Sunset Beach Park, 206 Sunset Boulevard North.
- Visit the Old Bridge Museum—From the 1950’s until 2010, the single-lane, swing bridge served as the only way to access Sunset Beach. It now sits surrounded by live oak trees on a lot across from the Sunset Beach fire House.
- Visit Ingram Planetarium—The Planetarium has the world’s third SciDome HD Digital Sky Theater, a state-of-the-art facility with a 40-foot dome. There are laser music shows as well as interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall which include ViewSpace, an award-winning exhibit featuring a continuous broadcast of the most recent updates directly from NASA. Ingram Planetarium is located at 7625 High Market Street, Sunset Beach, North Carolina. For additional information, visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org.
Sunset Beach is a beautiful, noncommercialized beach and seaside town that you are sure to enjoy visiting. It is a great place for a daytrip, and as you can see from the list above, there are quite a few things to do. Check it out and have fun.