Topsail Island (pronounced Topsul”) is one of the best-kept secrets among East Coast beaches. Located along North Carolina’s southern outerbanks, Topsail Island is a 26 mile long barrier island of spacious sandy beaches and tranquil maritime forests. It’s hard to discover such a place today as friendly and casual, with such pristine sand and surf, water sports, recreation, fine dining and shopping adventures. This is Topsail Island located midway between Wilmington, to the south and Jacksonville, to the north.
The island consists of three towns, North Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Topsail Beach. The two mainland towns of Sneads Ferry and Holly Ridge complete the section known as the Greater Topsail Area. Two bridges allow access to the island, a new high rise bridge with a pedestrian walkway on NC Route 50 to Surf City, or by NC Route 210 over a high-rise bridge nearer to North Topsail Beach.
The Topsail area is steeped in maritime and military history. Visitors can retrace Blackbeard the Pirate’s travels in the local waters during the 1700s. According to local legend, pirates used to lay in wait for unwary merchant ships by hiding behind the island. As the freighters became wise to this ploy, they began to watch for the tops of the pirate’s sails showing over the dunes. Out of the legend comes one of many tales on how Topsail was named. Today, many visitors bring metal detectors, snorkel and scuba gear to explore the inlets and beaches in search of pirate treasures.
What is definitely a fact is that after World War II, Topsail Island was used by the U.S. Government as a secret missile test site. The project, called Operation Bumblebee, was responsible for the development of the ram jet engine, a major breakthrough in the field of aviation. The concrete towers still scattered about the island were observation posts for the project. The Topsail Island Museum Missiles and More offers many displays, artifacts, and exhibits from prehistory to the present.
Topsail Island is a nesting ground for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. These giants of the sea come ashore between sundown and sunrise and build their carefully constructed nests from mid-May to mid-August. The nesting females leave a distinctive pattern of flipper marks in the sand which should be reported to the proper authorities. The nest sites must be left undisturbed to incubate for 45 to 90 days at which time the hatchlings will emerge to begin their journey to the sea. The Topsail Turtle Project is a local group of dedicated volunteers who monitor and protect the turtles. If you would like to find out more information, you may call the Turtle Project directly at 910-328-1000, or call our office.
The climate in the area is typically seasonal and generally mild. Summers are warm with lots of bright sunny days that are great for all outdoor activities. Winters are short and mild. Spring averages a temperature in the 60’s with scattered showers ending as quickly as they start. Fall brings cool sea breezes and an average temperature of 65 degrees.
Activities are abundant on and off the island. Swimming, sun bathing, surfing, shells and sharks tooth hunting, dolphin watching, golf, deep sea charter fishing, fishing piers, surf fishing, jet skis, parasailing, miniature golf, go carts, waterslides, kayaking, scenic boat tours, scuba and snorkeling, sailing and motor boating in the sound, Intracoastal Waterway, or the ocean.
The Topsail Island area is a special place to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities or to just relax and enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, star-filled nights and bountiful native birds and other wildlife in a serene atmosphere. Come for a visit or a lifetime!
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