Sunset Beach, North Carolina
Welcome To Sunset Beach, NC
Sunset Beach is a small Beach Town that sits just North of the the North Carolina/South Carolina State Line and is one of the area's smallest Beach Towns. Sunset Beach is the southernmost Barrier Island along Brunswick County's Barrier Island Beach Communities (among which includes Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach). Up until October 2010 the only way to gain access to the Beach, one had to cross a one-lane Swing Pontoon Bridge which connected the Beach to the Mainland. Until October, 2010, Sunset Beach had the last Pontoon Swing Bridge crossing the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Pontoon Swing Bridge was constructed in 1961 by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Historic Pontoon Swing Bridge, which has increasingly grown very expensive to maintain and operate, was replaced by a newly constructed modern 65 foot Arc Bridge. The way of life in Sunset Beach is relaxed and unhurried which the locals and vistors alike cherish and take pride in. Also, the fact that it is one of the last "old-fashioned Beach Resorts" and has managed to avoid any major building and growth spurts, with very careful planning by Town Officials, is something that residents take great pride in.
As previously mentioned above, the only road onto the Beach crossed an antiqued one-lane Pontoon Swing Bridge. The bridge was operated by pulleys and cables that operated the floating roadway and opened whenever Intra-Coastal Waterway boat traffic required passage; opening on the hour for Pleasure Boaters and as needed for Commerical Shrimp Boats. The bridge was one of the huge attractions for vistors to the Area as well as locals. The bridge is featured on many postcards sold in virtually every retail location in the area. There are also many beautiful paintings available from varied Artists each of whom have their own vision of what the Historic Bridge looks like through thier unique artistic abilities. Though no one argued that the bridge was fascinating to watch, there were many debates as to its safety to traffic and Emergency Access to the Island in the event of Life Threatening Emergencies and of course would hinder an Evacuation during Hurricane Season (an annual concern for a Beach Community). Some residents desired to keep it; hoping to slow development and maintain the relaxed, laid-back atmosphere of the Island. Due to the deligent efforts of several groups; most of the old one lane bridge was removed to a new park approximately one block from it's old location perserving an important feature of the history of Sunset Beach and what made the Area so unique.
Sunset Beach, the southern-most of North Carolina's Brunswick Islands, is only three miles in length but it is a fantastic location for providing a relaxing atmosphere for a family to vacation at. The pace of life seems to slow upon crossing the bridge, and the beautiful view of the calm salt marsh offers peace and tranquility. Pastel-colored cottages and homes cover the Island and are nestled by the sea oat-covered sand dunes that line the Oceanfront. Whether you choose to sunbath, swim, collect seashells or build sandcastles, Sunset Beach is an ideal Vacation Destination. On the Island, there is a fishing pier, a few shops and a couple of small sandwich locations although closeby are numerous Golf Courses, Restaurants as well as the famous Seafood Village of Calabash.
The immediate surrounding Area is also known as a "Golfer's Paradise" offering a variety of challenges to even the most accomplished golfer and known far and wide as the "Golf Coast". Golfers can play the beautiful and challenging course at the Pearl Golf Links, which has been voted one of the top 10 golf courses in the Carolinas and has also been nominated by Golf Digest as the best new public resort course in 1988. Designed by Dan Maples, the course features vistas, panoramas and marsh scenery. Players can play amidst the natural wildlife to feel at one with nature. Other nearby golf courses include Sea Trail Plantation and Golf Resort, Thistle Golf Club, and Ocean Ridge Plantation Golf, which is home to the "Big Cat" courses of Lion's Paw, Panther's Run, Tiger's Eye, Leopard's Chase and Jaguar's Lair. Also, be sure to check out the Ingram Planetarium, located in the Village at Sunset Beach in the Sea Trail Plantation and Golf Resort. The Ingram Planetarium, named for Stuart Ingram, founder of the Museum of Coastal Carolina, opened its doors and its sky-dome to the public in 2002. The state-of-the-art facility with a 40-foot dome theater features various shows including a new "Lazar Light Show" which is a visual treat for children as well as people of all ages. A unique feature of the facility is called Assisted Listening, which provides headsets for hearing-impaired persons. The Paul Dennis Science Room is used for classes, displays, meetings and birthday parties. Inside Ingram Planetarium are hands-on displays such as the constellation puzzle and Stuart Ingram's collection of sextants, along with an explanation of their use in steering by the stars while traveling at sea; an excellant presentation of how the sea was navigated without the use of present day technology.
Bird Island, which is a natural area and 1300 acre State Preserve on the Barrier Island, is connected to Sunset Beach and reachable by boat, walking, or biking along the beach. The shoreline, dunes, maritime forest, and marshland are also an important habitat and nesting area for various species of birds and turtles that are threatened or endangered. Bird Island is also a favored location for the endangered Loggerhead Turtle to come ashore build their nests and lay their eggs during the Late Spring and early Summer Months (May-July). Bird Watchers should cross Mad Inlet (currently Mad Inlet has filled in with sand after the Hurricanes of Fran and Bertha) to visit Bird Island, where a wide variety of birds come to nest and feed. One can walk from the public parking area and gazebo at Sunset Beach, along the Bird Island beachfront, all the way to South Carolina.
The major commercial area is on the Mainland along State Routes 904 (Seaside Road) and 179 (Beach Drive). To get to Sunset Beach, take U.S. 17 south from Wilmington (about 45 miles); turn left (south) on N.C. 904 (Seaside Road) to N.C. 179 (Beach Drive); then make a right (west), then a left to the bridge. There are four area airports in the Area. Major Airline Service is offered through Wilmington International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport. The South Brunswick Islands are approximately midway between both airports and about 45 minutes away from each Major Airport. There are also two small airports located in nearby Ocean Isle Beach and on Oak Island (approximately 35 miles away).
The Town of Sunset Beach is widely known as probably the most beautiful three miles of Coastline in North Carolina. Sunset Beach which was incorporated in 1963, is the smallest of three Barrier Islands (Holden beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach) which make up the famed South Brunswick Islands. This small sequestered island is comprised of a naturally wide, gently sloping, white sand beach with an undisturbed row of Sand Dunes which provide beauty as well as a natural barrier for the Island's Residents from the Atlantic Ocean. Sunset Beach is a location where the beach is actually gaining beach instead of the Ocean continually taking our beautiful beach away.