Like a barbecue joint on a back road, some of the best things in the South are well-kept secrets. On a beach tucked between busy Wilmington, North Carolina, and bustling Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, stands another little-known treasure: a lone mailbox stuffed full of hopes and wishes from people all around the world.

The mailbox's hazy origins date back 30 years when a woman thought she spied a mailbox on the beach during her walk on Bird Island. It was a figment of her imagination, but the Brunswick Islands resident was taken by the idea. She planted a mailbox securely in the sand and left a notebook and pencils inside.

Over the years, the secluded spot on the uninhabited, 1,300-acre barrier island gained a quiet following. Visitors are drawn to the site and the chance to spill their thoughts to the universe. They sit scribbling their secrets, dreams, and stories in notebooks with nothing around but a blue sky above and endless miles of sand dunes. When each visitor is done, they put the notebook and pencil back in the box for the next person looking for a little comfort.

With the nearest public parking lot 30 minutes away on Sunset Beach, Bird Island is reachable by boat, bike, or on foot. Make the journey and you might be lucky enough to see loggerhead turtles and the purple sandpiper, a species found only on the island. Just like that barbecue joint, if you can find it, there's something special waiting. But the mailbox's rewards aren't ribs or collards—instead, think of it as food for the soul.

By: Jessica Stringer