Take a Break on Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island, NC is simply one of those places you go to escape.

Bald Head Island sunset

Sometimes you just need a break from everything. Not just a few days off of work, but a complete departure from the real world. I reached that point recently.

This is coming from the same person who just wrote about being truly present in the world around you. Nevertheless, sometimes you need a short break from the grit to recharge your soul.

And if we’re being honest, I would have loved for this trip to have come a week later, after a whirlwind NYC and Boston trip, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Bald Head Island was by far the best beach experience I’ve had on the East Coast, because it’s such a hidden gem. I hate to divulge the secrets that make Bald Head so amazing, but I also believe in promoting inner peace for all. Just do me a favor and don’t be a “tourist.”

Here’s why Bald Head Island is one of the best beach destination  for peace and relaxation.

Prepare Yourself for a Slower Pace

If you’re in Southport, NC a 20 minute ferry ride is all it takes to get to paradise. If you’re anywhere else, head towards Myrtle Beach but stop just short of the crowds, putt putt, and kitschy surf shops (nothing against Myrtle Beach, it’s is just a different experience).

Once you’re on Bald Head Island golf carts and bicycles are the main sources of transportation thanks to the conservation minded community. This is the first step towards slowing down and relaxing while on vacation. You really have no choice but to enjoy the slower pace when your golf cart speed maxes out at 25 mph.

Don’t expect to find beach-front hotels packed with guests, fun parks, or a Rainforest Cafe. Instead, Bald Head Island feels like a little village with quaint shops, a small (but fully stocked) grocery, and only mom and pop restaurants. And the beaches were some of the least crowded beaches I’ve ever been on.

Bald Head Island Marsh

Explore and Enjoy the Protected Paradise

Of the island’s 12,000 acres only 2,000 are open to the public. But don’t worry, there’s more than enough beach for relaxation – like 14 miles worth.

Throughout the week we spent time exploring the different sides of the island, which all have their own unquie vibe.

Bald Head Island sunset on beach

If you’re able to pull yourself away from the sand (it’s difficult, I know), the island also has a variety of hiking trails through maritime forests and marshes. Just learn from our mistake, and remember that the forest canopy really does its job – especially at night. A sunset hike quickly turned into an after-dusk hike, during which I’m sure I had a closer encounter or two with a snake than I’d like to think about.

The island’s other 10,000 acres are protected salt marshes that are home to an abundance of wildlife. With over 200 bird species Bald Head Island is a perfect bird watching location.

Bald Head Island bird watching

And if you’re lucky, or not so lucky depending on how you feel about reptiles with sharp teeth, you might also see an alligator. I definitely hoped to see one, but spending some formative years in Louisiana can do that to a person. So don’t worry, if you stay on the beaten path and don’t venture towards the docks that overlook lagoons, you’ll have a gator-free vacation.

The best part, though? Bald Head Island is a sea turtle nesting ground. Yep, cute little baby sea turtles hatch on the island every year during the summer months. And you can even be a part of their journey by joining the Bald Head Island Conservancy on one of their many turtle monitoring excursions. Seriously, what more could you ask for?

Just make sure you don’t disturb their nests if you encounter one of the beach. Chances are it will be covered with a caution net to let you know it’s there. And if you’re out on the beach at night, don’t use white lights. Baby sea turtles us the moon to guide them towards the ocean, and you wouldn’t want to mislead the little guys with your moon-mimicking light.

Things to do on Bald Head Island

Obviously most of your time spent on Bald Head Island should involve sand and the waves, but when you need a break from the sun or want to mix up your afternoon, activities for the whole family are just a short golf cart trip away.

Bald Head Island may not have amusement rides and waterslides, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. Nope, there are plenty of things to do on Bald Head Island.

If you’ve got a history buff in your crew, Bald Head has a history rich with Native Americans, the British, pirates, soldiers, light house mishaps, and entrepreneurs.

Markers and plaques across the island give you snapshots of the past. Start by visiting Old Baldy, the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, and the museum, then explore the island in your golf cart to find more historic sites. You can also take a guided tour of Bald Head Island to gain real insight into its eventful past.

If golf or tennis are your cup of tea then you’ll love Bald Head Island. The Bald Head Island Club offers an acclaimed golf course, tennis courts, and even croquet greenswards. And rental homes come with “House” level membership, which gives you access to the club’s fitness center, pool, dining, croquet greenswards, and the golf shop.

Speaking of shops, Bald Head Island has a handful, including: clothing and decor boutiques, an art gallery, hardware store, beach rentals, gift shops, and even a spa. Make sure you at least spend an afternoon checking out all the unique things the island shops have to offer. It’s a great way to pick up souvenirs and support the residents who live on the island.

If you need more than that, then go fly a kite. No, really. You’re at the beach to relax, so don’t worry too much about filling your agenda. Instead take it slow, enjoy the sand and the sunsets, and escape from the busyness of the real world for a little while.

Bald Head Island man flying kite


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