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Beaches and Beach Towns

Island Fun Off the Beaten Path 

Holden Beach is a sub-tropical, barrier island located on the coast of North Carolina, midway between Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC. Holden Beach boasts the perfect family seaside getaway with secluded white sandy beaches alongside the Atlantic Ocean. 

Of the three South Brunswick Islands, Holden Beach is the longest and the largest. With 8 miles of newly renourished beach strand, the island is a perfect place for beachcombers to find that rare nautilus jewel. 

The Perfect Family Beach

Holden Beach has a reputation as a quiet, family-oriented vacation destination with very little in the way of commercial development. National Geographic Traveler magazine rated Holden Beach one of the best family beaches in the country. The island has a 35-foot height limit for buildings, and most of the commercial property is on the mainland side of the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Due to Holden Beach’s unique location on the coast (the strand run east to west), the sun appears to rise right out of the ocean and follow the duneline before it sets back into the ocean. This phenomenon is best viewed during the fall and winter months of the year, when the sun is closest to the equator. In the summer, the ocean warms itself into the 80s and salty breezes blow out of the ocean from the south. 

Holden Beach Sunset

Life in Holden Beach

Locals care very deeply about the environment, and many are active in the Brunswick County Turtle Watch Program. In fact, in 1990, the Brunswick Turtle Watch registered 63 turtle nests on Holden Beach. That year, 3,278 hatchlings made it safely into the sea due to the help of the Turtle Watch volunteers. If you visit Holden Beach anywhere from May to September and you happen to see areas of sand dunes marked by yellow bands of ribbon, those are nesting sites marked by the Turtle Watch volunteers. 

A trip to Holden Beach would not be complete without a visit to a fish house. Fish houses are where most of the shrimp and fish caught by local fishermen are taken. You should also take a short trip to the traditional fishing village of Varnamtown on the Lockwood Folly River, or over to Browns Landing to catch your own dinner.

Golfers can swing at the Lockwood Folly Country Club, rated four stars by Golf Digest, or one of the many other nearby courses. Provision Company is a great spot to grab a causual yet delicious seafood dinner, and  Diane at Ocean Boulevard Coffee has the best cup of Joe on the island! 

Boomers Rentals at Causeway Plaza and Beach Fun Rentals on the island proper can fulfill all your vacation rental needs, including beach bikes, boogie boards, surf boards, wagons, umbrellas, chairs, rod and reel combinations, kayaks (single and double), gas grills, charcoal grills (large and small), rollaway beds, full cribs, dog crates, portable cribs, playpens, high chairs, baby gates, and beach strollers and joggers. They also provide sheets and bath and kitchen towel rentals, as well as electronics such as televisions.

Annual celebrations in Holden Beach include A Day at the Dock in the spring, the SBI King Classic King Mackerel Tournament in the late summer, and The North Carolina Festival by the Sea in the fall. There are also multiple 5Ks and other races throughout the year. 

Directions to Holden Beach

Getting here can be a bit tricky the first time since there are no major roads leading to the island. I-95 and I-40 are the main interstates that bring you into the area. From there you can take Highway 17, the east coast highway that will lead you to Shallotte. Be sure to buy most of your supplies here, then follow the signs to Holden Beach. To get to Holden Beach from Wilmington, take U.S. 17 south to Shallotte; take N.C. 130 to Holden Beach Road; then head south to the bridge. 

There are four area airports. Major airline service is offered through two - Wilmington International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport. Brunswick County is midway between both airports and about 45 minutes away from each. There are also two small airports in Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island.