Nestled in the southeast corner of North Carolina, NC's Brunswick Islands is home to not only great birding, shelling, and kayaking, among other activities, but some unique outdoor experiences as well. As you explore the five unique barrier islands and six pristine beaches of NC's Brunswick Islands, you'll find many one-of-a-kind natural wonders distinctive to the region. With the area's unique south-facing beaches, lack of high rises, temperate weather, and unique environments, come unspoiled and unforgettable experiences. Read on to discover some of the surprises you’ll find here.

Watch Both the Sun Rise and Set Over the Ocean

Experience one of nature’s most breathtaking views from the comfort of your beach chair. The Brunswick Islands’ uniquely south-facing beaches allow for a natural phenomenon where beachgoers can see the sun both rise and set over the Atlantic Ocean. This only takes place from late fall through early spring due to the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and the Brunswick Islands beaches' rare orientation. Beachgoers can visit Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Sunset Beach, Holden Beach, or Ocean Isle Beach to witness this phenomenon. Many of our local outfitters and charters offer sunset tours and cruises for an even closer view of the sun kissing the waves as it sets.

Stargaze Like Never Before

NC's Brunswick Islands boasts some of the most amazing stargazing spots along the East Coast. Due to the area’s lack of light pollution and high rises, as well as its south-facing beaches, stargazers can enjoy views of constellations surrounded by natural beauty. Watch the stars from a blanket on the beach or from the deck of your vacation rental home. Come Milky Way season, epic views of the stars can be seen directly from any one of our six beaches. At Ingram Planetarium, in Sunset Beach, visitors can also get an up-close-and-personal view of the constellations, planets, and stars in the area directly from the planetarium’s dome ceiling.

Milky Way over Sunset Beach Pier

See Unique Flora and Fauna

The Brunswick Islands are home to a variety of unique flora and fauna for visitors to experience that anyone would love to check off their bucket list or snap a picture of. The beaches here are the chosen nesting site for many sea turtles each year, particularly loggerhead sea turtles. As nesting season begins in May, sea turtles head to the shore to lay their eggs, and hatchings begin in July and sometimes continue into October. During this time, lucky beachgoers may witness a sea turtle gliding through the ocean waves, or the memorable sight of a baby sea turtle making its way to the ocean for the very first time. 


Beaches aren’t the only place to see unique wildlife in NC’s Brunswick Islands. Swamps and other wooded areas are home to many rare plant and animal species, such as the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker and the vulnerable Venus Flytrap. In fact, Brunswick County cultivates the largest variety of rare plant species in North Carolina and is one of the only places where the protected Venus Flytrap can grow naturally. Discover these unique species along with even more abundant wildlife and scenic views at one of the diverse nature preserves in the area.

Venus Flytrap at Green Swamp Preserve

Nature lovers will be sure to find just the right activities and settings to highlight their visit to the Brunswick Islands. From the above one-of-a-kind experiences to kayaking vast marshes, exploring nature preserves, strolling riverwalks, dolphin watching, ziplining over a cypress swamp, or simply enjoying the peacefulness of a sunrise or sunset over the ocean. Visit here to start planning your trip NC's Brunswick Islands.