Escape to Topsail Island, North Carolina

It's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway.

Topsail Beach, North Carolina
Photo: Marilyn Nieves / Getty Images

Venture to Topsail Island, North Carolina, for your next vacation. The serene beaches and small-town atmosphere offer a laid-back getaway.

Legend of Topsail Island, North Carolina

According to local legend, Topsail got its name centuries ago when pirates hid their boats in the channel between the island and the mainland. Only the top of the boats' sails was visible to ships approaching from the Atlantic. Rumor has it that Blackbeard's treasure is still buried somewhere on the island.

Southern Living Surf City North Carolina
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. brookebecker / Getty Images

Traveling to Topsail Island, North Carolina

Topsail Island sits about 40 miles northeast of Wilmington. It is a 26-mile-long barrier island off the North Carolina coast and is home to three charming seaside towns: North Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Topsail Beach. This destination is easily accessible by car, or you can fly to a nearby airport and take a shuttle. Topsail Island isn't a part of the Outer Banks, which are also a set of barrier islands located farther north off the coast of North Carolina.

Southern Living Topsail Beach
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Peeter Viisimaa / Getty Images

Things to Do in Topsail Island, North Carolina

Book a weekend trip to Topsail, or plan to stay for an entire week. No matter how long or short your stay, you'll enjoy your time on the island. You can't go wrong with staying in any of the three towns for your getaway.

Three Main Towns

Each of the three main towns provides a unique and fun beach experience for a vacation. With its maritime forests and natural landscape, water surrounds North Topsail Beach on three sides and offers dog-friendly shores. Surf City, located in the middle of the island, is the most commercial destination, offering many dining options, shopping, and community events. On the island's southernmost end, Topsail Beach is an old-school coastal town with untouched sands and unbeatable views.

Southern Living Jolly Roger Inn
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Jolly Roger Oceanfront Inn & Pier

Sea Turtle Conservation

Topsail is best known for its sea turtle preservation and conservation efforts. Throughout the 26 miles of coastline, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to nest and lay eggs from April through September. While you're here, visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City. Visitors can volunteer at the sea turtle hospital, take a tour of the facility, and help with the rehabilitation efforts of the turtle patients.

Activities for the Entire Family

Or cast a line off the Surf City Ocean Pier, another point of interest here. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at Richard C. Peters Town Park in North Topsail Beach, or hop in a kayak to explore the sound, inlet, and ocean surrounding the town. In Topsail Beach, set up your chair at Serenity Point to catch a breathtaking sunset. You'll also want to visit another popular attraction, the Missiles and More Museum, and learn about the island's history during WWII.

Southern Living Island Inn Surf City
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Island Inn

Where to Eat

When it's time to refuel, you'll have plenty of dining options. Have dinner at the Breezeway Restaurant in Topsail Beach for fresh seafood and prime waterfront views, or choose authentic Lowcountry fare at the Beach Shop and Grill. Satisfy your shellfish craving at the Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar in Surf City, and wash it down with a craft beer on tap.

Where to Stay on Topsail Island, North Carolina

After a long day of exploring, come home to a cozy rental to relax. Book a room with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic at the classic Jolly Roger Inn & Pier near downtown Topsail Beach.

Another favorite of visitors is the Island Inn in Surf City. It's located directly across from the beach, has a pool, and is within walking distance of the town's shops and restaurants.

Southern Living Villa Capriani
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Villa Capriani

If your crew needs more space, opt for a condominium rental in North Topsail at the Villa Capriani. The units offer necessities like a fully equipped kitchen, a washer and dryer, and prime oceanfront views.

Southern Living Bliss Escape
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. VRBO

Book a beachfront cottage for your time in Topsail if you're traveling with a larger group. Browse VRBO and Airbnb to find the perfect home away from home for your family. Remember that many home rentals require at least a three-night minimum (some may ask that you book for an entire week).

Southern Living Bumblebee Cottage
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Airbnb

There's no wrong view at the Bumblebee cottage in Topsail Beach. This spacious rental sits directly on the beach, welcomes pets, and features rocking chairs on its two decks for watching sunsets.

Southern Living Rescue Retreat
pIt's time to book your next laid-back beach getaway/p. Airbnb

From sea turtle conservation to dazzling sunsets to fresh seafood, there's a reason visitors keep coming back to Topsail Island year after year. Come for a weekend or stay for a week—you won't be disappointed by this memorable coastal getaway.

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