NC Brunswick Islands: Sunset Beach

Your search for an oceanfront house, nestled among the dunes is over. Back in 1958 on Sunset Beach, the boardwalk to the beach was a mere 150 feet long. Today, you have more like a 750-foot walk to the beach. Because of its unique position relative to the wave action, Sunset Beach is bucking the trend of neighboring beaches. Instead of losing ground to the ocean, Sunset Beach is actually adding to its shoreline. This natural and unique situation makes for one beautiful setting for a vacation at the beach.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Sunset Beach by Sara Kendall.jpg

Put on your walking shoes, hit the beach and head toward Bird Island, an uninhabited nature preserve. Depending on where you start on the island, this could be a good half hour or more walk. Look for the American flag swaying high above the dunes. Here is where you will find the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. Planted back in 1977 by Frank Nesmith to have a place to exchange letters with his lady friend, this notion has grown into something far from what Nesmith originally started.

Frank Nesmith of Sunset Beach by Sara Kendall.jpg

After Nesmith started adding journals and pens, visitors started leaving their own notes. Over the years, there have been messages about love and gratitude, ones from lovers and haters, and still others describing lifes troubles and joys. Some would say that sitting down on nearby bench and writing down your beach memories, everyday wishes, goals, heartaches, and joys is the best psychiatrist couch in North Carolina.

Nesmith says, Its amazing something you do on a lark, over 35 years later gets you famous. Nesmith has been on the local and national news about the special place he created where people from across the nation can share their secrets, true feelings, or simply get something off their chest.

Find your way down to this special mailbox, grab a journal and add your own thoughts. Join the thousands of people who have experienced a moment of self-expression with a pen and a walk down a gorgeous wide beach.

Kayaking the Intra-Coastal!

Kayaking around Sunset Beach by Sara Kendall.jpg

There is no better way to enjoy the scenic Intra-Coastal Waterway and get up close to nature than by creating a lasting memory with a kayak tour with Summertide Adventures Tours. Owner Cari Van Winkle is passionate about giving vacationers a great kayaking experience and she will do her best to accommodate your group if weather gets in the way of your first attempt to go on a tour. Summertides most popular tours are the Bird Island and Twilight, which range from low to moderate in activity level.

According to Greg Pence, a local kayaking guide, the most popular question that visitors ask is, Are there alligators in the water? Alligators live in freshwater and we kayak in saltwater areas. Its rare to see an alligator. If you see one, they are extremely lost or very hungry. And I have never seen one while kayaking around here, says Pence.

Old Bridge Museum

Old Bridge Museum by Sara Kendall.jpg

For 52 years, getting to Sunset Beach meant visitors had to take a single lane swing bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. Many a car rider found the wait to be well over an hour. But most comment now that It was always worth the wait. Because finally crossing the bridge meant their vacation had officially started.

Luckily in 2010, the old bridge was replaced with an elevated four-lane bridge. In the construction contract, the iconic swing bridge was to be demolished, but this didnt sit well with the locals. A group got together to find a way to preserve the bridge. Eventually the state let the Old Bridge Preservation Society buy it for a dollar.

Now, it houses a small museum to keep the memories alive and for newcomers to learn about the islands heritage. In summertime, kids can be apart of the Junior Bridge Tender Club, participate in activities, and receive a t-shirt and newsletter.

Sunset Beach by Sara Kendall.jpg

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Sara Kendall has traveled halfway across the globe with her kids and lived to tell about it. Stay tuned to hear about family destinations around Charlotte and beyond.

Check out Sara's travel website at or email her at