From a vast protected maritime forest to a sprawling tidal marsh, Bald Head Island offers visitors a rich diversity of environments. Scenic vistas and recreational opportunities abound in all areas of the island, but the island’s crowning glory is, undoubtedly, her beaches.
Because the strand is made up entirely of handsome coastal cottages, there are no high-rise buildings or commercial structures to spoil the view. Beaches remain uncrowded, even during summer holiday weekends, giving sunbathers, swimmers, surfers and shell collectors a wide stretch of sand and sea to enjoy.
And because Bald Head Island has beaches that face west, south and east, you can nearly always find one where the breeze and water conditions are just right.
The only way to get here is by passenger ferry or private boat, so your first impression of Bald Head Island will undoubtedly be West Beach as your vessel passes through the breakwaters that mark the entrance to the harbor.
West Beach is at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. From here, you can celebrate gorgeous nightly sunsets and get up-close-and-personal views of all types of boats, including huge container ships that are making their way upriver to the Port of Wilmington. The fishing is almost always good on West Beach, and it’s usually an excellent spot for finding driftwood.
The longest stretch of shoreline on Bald Head Island faces south.
South Beach runs from where the river turns into the sea, all the way down to the majestic point of Cape Fear. You’ll share this wide expanse with families building sandcastles and jumping waves, as well as those who just want to sit on the sand with a good book or stare out at the ocean in peaceful meditation.
Because dogs are allowed on the beach, and leashes are not required, you may find Spot and Fido living it up along the water’s edge, as well. Owners are simply charged with making sure their dogs are not disruptive to others, or to the environment.
One of the East Coast’s most recognizable landmarks, the point of Cape Fear is as picturesque as it is powerful.
Venture out ankle-deep and watch the waters merge from two directions, kicking up salt spray and foam that feels as exhilarating as it looks.
Anglers have a lot of success, as well as a blast, surfcasting in these waters, and shell collectors can have a field day at low tide, both along the shore and in the tidal pools that emerge in the area.
Rounding the cape, you find yourself on East Beach, another expansive strand that is popular with all types of beach lovers.
Here, early birds savor the uninterrupted view of the sun rising over the ocean, and surfers can often ride a nice little break just offshore. East Beach often offers a fresh breeze that beachgoers find delightful, and water sports of all sorts are in play.
So when you’re on Bald Head Island, don’t just go to one beach, try them all. Each will have its charms at various times of the day, depending on conditions, and you are sure to find your perfect place in the sun.