Sunset Beach is a unique little North Carolina coastal destination that encompasses both mainland and barrier island terrain, and is located just a seashell's throw from the South Carolina border. Despite its proximity to larger destinations like Wilmington, NC to the north and Myrtle Beach, SC to the south, the community has never lost its small town charm, and its decidedly beachy atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for laid back vacationers who want to soak up the salt, the sun, and the endless ocean views.

Under the bridge to Sunset Beach

A small southern town that's just 5.8 square miles in area, with a year-round population both on and off the island of about 1,800 residents, Sunset Beach certainly feels like a quiet vacation destination, and yet features all the amenities of a busy resort community. With acclaimed restaurants, great fishing, watersports, and some of the best golfing along the southern NC coastline, this community caters to a wide realm of visitors with varying vacation expectations. Have a cold beer and a sunset after a long day of fishing, or spend a week discovering the region's nationally acclaimed golf courses. At Sunset Beach, a first-rate vacation can be found in an endless variety of forms, ensuring an ideal and individualized beach getaway.

Casting a line on Sunset Beach

The town of Sunset Beach has a relatively short history as a vacation destination, but can still trace its original roots back to the 1700s, when the collection of southern North Carolina barrier islands and coastal territory was owned by the Brooks Family. In 1955, just a year after Hurricane Hazel wreaked havoc on the East Coast, the island was purchased by Mannon C. Gore. The beach, which was originally named "Bald Beach," was renamed by Gore after he spent some time on the barrier island and took note of the brilliant sunsets, leading to the name "Sunset Beach." Shortly after purchasing the island, Gore also invested in 500 acres of mainland property bordering the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). He then went to work building a pontoon swing bridge that could accommodate vehicular traffic, leading visitors on and off the island. The bridge was finished in 1958, and was one of the most unique, if not terrifying, bridges in the world, as it would slowly move up or down, depending on the tide.

Neighborhood marh walk on Sunset Beach

As developm4t and local business grew, the town was officially incorporated in 1963, with a newly established mayor and five commissioners overseeing the community. At the time, there were 30 full-time residents, but this population swelled over the years, especially with the establishment of Sea Trail Resort, a 2,000 acre resort and conference center that was built in 1984, and brought even more visitors to the region with its three distinctive golf courses.

Kayaking near Sunset Beach, NC

In 2010, the distinctive wooden bridge that linked Sunset Beach with the mainland was finally replaced with a solid concrete version, (which could even accommodate two lanes of traffic), and today the town remains one of the most popular beach destinations north of Myrtle Beach. With Sea Trail alone boasting hundreds of rental units and a trifecta of premier golf courses, Sunset Beach has certainly come a very long way from its humble, post-Hurricane Hazel beginnings.

Homes line canals near Sunset Beach, NC

Of course, despite Sunset Beach's many attractions and amenities, the town thrives as a tourist destination mainly because of its laid-back and secluded feel. The beaches along Sunset Beach are wide, seldom crowded, and feature miles of oceanfront that are ideal for body boarding, surfing, swimming, or a little bit of surf fishing. Sunset Beach is especially popular with regional beachcombers, as it is well-known for its stark white or light gray sand dollars, which wash up in the hundreds on a good shelling day. Sunset Beach has several public beach accesses, including a convenient and expansive parking lot adjacent to the pier, as well as easy proximity to deserted Bird Island - a neighboring, natural state reserve that features incredible birding, shelling, kayaking, hiking, and isolated put postcard-perfect sunrises and sunsets.

Sunset Beach Park

Fishermen and sightseers will also want to take a stroll along the Sunset Beach Fishing Pier, a sprawling 900' foot long wooden structure that features fantastic angling, in addition to regular historical tours of the pier itself as well as the town's unique role in history.

Sunset Beach NC

The Ingram Planetarium is another favorite attraction. Located slightly inland, the Ingram Planetarium hosts seasonal shows that explore the mysterious depths of space, or simply allow gusts to lean back, tune out, and relax to awesome laser displays set to the music of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or U2.

Oceanfront homes in Sunset Beach, NC

Out on the town, visitors will discover over a dozen local restaurants that range from coffee shops to cafes, (many with neat locations or incredible waterfront views), and shoppers will have plenty of fun exploring the souvenir and beach gear chain stores, as well as the eclectic art galleries and boutiques located both on and off the island.

An ultralight aircraft flies over Sunset Beach, NC

Visitors will also find plenty of lodging options, including locally run motels and inns, resort villas and suites, condominium complexes, and vacation rental homes that can accommodate families of all sizes. With so many options, and so many nearby amenities, visitors can simply choose a locale, (such as close to the golf courses or adjacent to the oceanfront), and find a realm of properties that fit right in with their vacation plans.

A crane fishes in Sunset Beach, NC

Establishments like the Sea Trail Resort and Conference Center have a number of lodging styles available in one all-encompassing complex, enabling long-weekend couples or long-term vacationers to find a variety of places to stay. Potential visitors are advised to check out their options online, either at an area resort or through a local property management company that specializes in vacation rentals, to get a complete and detailed picture of the Sunset Beach accommodations scene.

Waterfront homes in Sunset Beach, NC

Though a relatively young vacation destination, and the smallest of North Carolina's Brunswick Islands, Sunset Beach is arguably one of the most visited regions of the southern North Carolina coast, an honor which is due to its world of outdoor amenities, great dining and shopping, and fabulous resorts which double as grand conference centers. Day trippers and weekly vacationers alike are invited to see what all the fuss is about, and start planning their own vacation to this quiet, but immensely popular beach destination. After a sunset or two, or a great round of golf, newcomers will quickly be on board with the all the charms of Sunset Beach.

The bridge to Sunset Beach NC

 

Smithfield's Chicken N Bar-B-Q
Victory Beach Vacations

Victory Beach Vacations

Visitors who are on the hunt for the postcard-perfect vacation rental in the heart of the Carolina Beach or Kure Beach area will find an enticing selection and plenty of friendly customer service when they rent through Victory Beach Vacations. Based in Carolina Beach in the coastal Cape Fear region, Victory Beach Vacations has more than 100 vacation rentals in all shapes and sizes to ensure that every vacationing family can find their dream home away from home on the beach.   When you book your Cape Fear getaway with Victory Beach Vacations, the fun doesn’t end when you leave the beach, it continues with an array of privately-owned properties outfitted with all of the amenities needed for a fabulous beach vacation.   Jenna Lanier, General Manager, explains that her family first opened the rental and property management business in 2002. At the forefront of Victory Beach operations is Lanier’s mother, Caroline Meeks. Meeks is both the Broker in Charge and co-owner with husband, Buck Meeks, who manages the Field Services team with Lanier’s husband, Scott.   For nearly 20 years, the Victory Beach team has worked tirelessly to establish a network of top-of-the-line rental properties for Cape Fear visitors to enjoy. “As far as our properties go,” explains Lanier, “they are all updated, well-furnished and appointed. “We have always performed post-cleaning inspections and since the pandemic, have put freshly laundered duvets over all of the comforters between rentals.”   Lanier emphasizes how important the guests experience is “we strive to give our guests a relaxing, stress free, memorable vacation.” This emphasis on customer service has led to Victory Beach Vacations having a 4.8 Google rating with over 300 reviews by happy owners and guests.In addition to Victory Beach’s superior sanitation practices, the company offers properties for every type of visitor. Choose from luxury oceanfront houses and condos to more reasonbly priced 2nd row properties with oceanviews. Many properties include pools and hot tubs as well, perfect for outdoor entertaining, and many are dog friendly.   Lanier also notes that all properties are within walking or driving distance to Pleasure Island’s main attractions – Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. The former, as described by Lanier, is the more commercialized of the two destinations and features a boardwalk, outdoor dining options and a plethora of weekly activities including fireworks, live music, amusement park pop-ups, and movies under the stars. Kure Beach offers a more residential feel with its fishing pier, intimate restaurants and family favorite, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.More water fun awaits, too. “There is a harbor and a canal that feed into the intercoastal. We have several properties on the harbor so guests can bring their boat, kayak, [or jet ski] and travel between islands,” says Lanier.   A stay with Victory Beach Vacations is an annual pilgrimage for most. “A large percentage of guests are previous guests. Some even reserve the same property for the next year as they’re checking out,” Lanier says. “It’s almost like it’s their personal vacation home.”   Even before guests arrive at their vacation destination, the Victory Beach Vacations’ website greets them with a live beach cam and exquisite aerial footage of both Carolina and Kure Beaches. See for yourself by scanning the QR code and call Victory Beach Vacations at 910.458.0868 to book your Cape Fear getaway. Start making your memories today! —Grace Silipigni