When I was a young mom, I spent many summers with lots of friends and lots of kids down on the North Carolina coast. We’d rent a big house and immediately become beach bums…. Rising early to catch the sunrise, walking the long beach, laying out in the sun all day, surfing the waves on our big rafts, looking for turtle nests, eating seafood bought daily from the shrimp boat guys. Some summers we’d stay at Holden Beach, some on Oak Island. These beautiful beaches are part of the Brunswick Islands, two of six separate beach communities spread out on five barrier islands.
Once you’ve hung out on the North Carolina coast, you’ll want to go back again and again. And not just in the summer. The amazing thing about the NC coast is it’s beautiful anytime of the year. And what better way to begin a new year than walking the beach and watching the pelicans play? So we took off from the mountains and arrived on Oak Island just in time to watch the sunset.
Oak Island runs east to west and faces south, so the waves are much gentler than other beaches, which is great for families. The climate is more temperate than the beaches north of it...more comparable to the climate at Myrtle Beach, SC, which is less than an hour south. Oak Island is also less than 45 minutes to Wilmington and a short drive to Southport, a charming picturesque and historical town.
Oak Island is cool because you have the ocean on one side, the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, and a canal and marsh running through 3/4 of the island. The beach is peaceful and beautiful! We love eating at some of the funkiest seafood joints on the coast, and there’s plenty of grocery stores to stock up our kitchens. Oak Island also houses the Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter where sick and injured birds are rehabilitated and released again into the wild once they are able to care of themselves.
We found the beach quiet and tranquil in December. The temperatures were in the 50s and we had the beaches to ourselves. Although some stores had closed following the summer season, several are open year round.
As the clock ticked down to midnight, we walked to the ocean to send out our New Year wishes to Mother Ocean, went back to the beach house and stood out on the porch lighting sparklers while singing 'Auld Lang Syne' at the top of our lungs and toasted in the New Year with a few glasses of champagne. 2017 is going to be a fabulous year and we're looking forward to coming back to this magic place in the summer!
For more info on Oak Island, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/islands/Oak_Island