With its stunning nature and coastal beauty visitors and local can fall in love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands year-round. Whether spotting dolphins from the sand or birdwatching in the marshes, the nature of the Brunswick Islands is sure to take your breath away. Plan your next date with the outdoors with one of these scenic adventures.

Sun, Sand, and Surf

The Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of beaches are filled with opportunities for amazing nature sightings. Take a rejuvenating morning stroll and spot sand dollars and other unique shells along the shore or go for a bike ride at low tide and watch for dolphins playing in the waves. After a day spent on the beach, bring the evening to a close by enjoying a summer sunset from any number of incredible viewing points. When visiting in the fall and winter months, watching the sun rise and set over the ocean is a unique and incredible view on the Brunswick Islands’ south-facing beaches. With views such as these, beachgoers in search of natural beauty won’t be disappointed no matter the time of year.


Walk (or Float!) on the Wild Side 

Discover a different side of the barrier islands with the Intracoastal Waterway and the area’s vast ecosystem of salt marshes, creeks, and estuaries. Find some of the best kayaking, paddle boarding and more in the region where salt water meets fresh, home to crabs, oysters, fish, shrimp, skates and even dolphins. Local outfitters located across the Brunswick Islands are ready to provide all the gear you need for your wild adventure. Nature preserves and parks throughout the Brunswick Islands also provide additional outdoor spaces to spot wildlife and unique plants. For a glimpse of any of the 14 species of insectivorous plants that call parts of the Brunswick Islands home, including the Venus Flytrap, explore the Green Swamp Preserve. Or try a swamp boat eco-tour for an up-close look at a cypress swamp.

Marsh Kayaking

Shell-ebrate Miracles

 For a truly heartwarming experience from July through October, watch baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean in their first moments of life outside their eggs. Thanks to an abundance of trained volunteers and the sanctuaries throughout the Brunswick Islands, the nests are observed and tended to so the community can be educated on the importance of the protection of this endangered species. Visitors along the beach at night can see this natural miracle for themselves and watch as volunteers monitor the hatching process and guide the baby turtles to the ocean, where they can live for up to 50 years or more.

A newly-hatched baby sea turtle scurries towards the beach to begin a life in the open ocean

Birds of a Feather 

North Carolina's Brunswick Islands is home to eight sites along the North Carolina Birding Trail. The Islands’ prime location and varied ecosystems make it a haven for birds, and over 330 species have been spotted in Brunswick County. From the majestic bald eagle to the spectacular painted bunting, nature lovers are in for a treat. For a full list of the NC Birding Trail sites in the Brunswick Islands and the species often seen at each site visit our birding page here. Spring and summer are also great times to observe the nesting shore birds that call our beaches home.

green heron bird sitting on a tree branch

Out of This World

For a unique take on some other-worldly nature, visit the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. The state-of-the-art planetarium has an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high-definition digital protection and surround-sound system where visitors can learn about the universe around them. The theater’s educational programs about space exploration and astronomy rotate throughout the year, as do their special laser music shows. For fun, hands-on learning the free interactive exhibits in the Paul Dennis Science Hall are a must do. With your newfound knowledge of the stars, make the most of your Brunswick Islands trip by heading out to the beach for some stargazing uninterrupted by light pollution. 

inside of a planetarium show

Looking to fall in love with nature in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands? Learn more about nature exploration and plan your trip by visiting www.ncbrunswick.com.