Cathryn Strupe, Author at Salt & Sand Realty and Vacation Rentals

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Thinking about visiting Oak Island this fall? Just because it’s after Labor Day doesn’t mean that the fun has ended! It’s one of the best times of the year to visit, with a perfect blend of warm afternoons and slightly cooler nights. Plus, there are so many fun activities and events happening — like golfing in enjoyable weather and the annual king mackerel tournament!

No matter your reason for being here, autumn is one of the best times to experience Oak Island, NC! Not to mention, there are fewer crowds and lower rates this time of year. Keep reading to learn about the top 10 things to do on Oak Island in the fall season.

1. Escape for a Day on the Beach with Fewer Crowds

What the Beach is Like in the Fall on Oak Island, North Carolina Coast Vacation

While the beach feels expansive no matter when you visit Oak Island, you’ll be greeted with fewer crowds after Labor Day! And, if you love soaking up the sun in the summer months but find the afternoons can get a bit hot, then you will love the fall on Oak Island! From September through November, the NC coast offers a welcoming climate that allows you to enjoy the beach comfortably throughout the entire day.

2. Unleash on the Beach with Your Pups

Oak Island Dog Unleashed on Beach in the Fall

Speaking of fun in the sun, Oak Island allows dog allows dogs on the beach year-round! There’s nothing like taking a stroll on the shore or splashing in the waves with your furry friend. Plus, during the “off-season” (from October 15 to March 15), dogs can even be off-leash while on the beach between 6 am to 8 pm every day. You’ll find clearly defined “off-leash” areas on the beach access signs at marked locations around the island to locate the designated “off-leash” places during this period.

Ready to start planning your next trip? We have a large selection of pet-friendly vacation rentals on Oak Island, so you don’t have to leave your pup behind at home!

3. Gather Around the Fire

Beach Fire on Oak Island in the Fall

Yes, that’s right! Bonfires on the beach are allowed between November 16 to April 30. The only thing you must do is get a free permit from the local fire department. After that, you’ll be all set to grab your firewood and head to the beach.

Just keep in mind that you must apply for a permit within 72 hours of your planned beach fire on Oak Island. You can learn more about the permits and take a look at frequently asked questions by clicking here.

4. Baby Sea Turtle Hatching Season

Oak Island Beach Nature - Sea Turtle Season

The OKI beaches are a popular nesting spot every year for both Loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley! The nesting and hatching season on Oak Island starts annually at the beginning of May and runs through the end of October! At the end of the season is when you’ll begin to see the baby sea turtles emerge from their nests to make their journey into the Atlantic Ocean.

From here, they will begin their journey to feeding grounds, which may span as long as 20,000 miles. After they reach adulthood (between 25 to 30 years), these magnificent creatures are believed to return to the beach where they were hatched to lay their own eggs. Quite incredible, right? Learn more by visiting the Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program’s (OISTPP) website.

5. Climb to the Top of the OKI Lighthouse

Oak Island Lighthouse Tours

Did you know that the Oak Island Lighthouse is 153 feet tall? There are exactly 131 steps to the balcony, where you can enjoy 360-degree views of Oak Island and the neighboring areas! If you ask us, these unparalleled views are well worth the climb.

If you want to see the sights for yourself, tours in the off-season run from September through May and can be requested for any day of the week. Scheduling is based on volunteer availability, so we recommend contacting them as soon as possible to make sure they can accommodate you. Visit the OKI Lighthouse’s website for more information or email to request a tour during your next stay.

6. Throw out a Line & Experience Incredible Coastal Fishing

Fishing on Oak Island with the Family off a Dock

It’s not a secret; the North Carolina coast is well known as one of the best places to fish in the United States! Plus, it’s one of our favorite fall activities on Oak Island. With cooler air and water temperatures, this time of year offers a wide variety of fish species that can’t be found during the summertime.

In-shore, you’ll encounter king mackerel, speckled trout, bluefish, grouper, mahi-mahi, tuna, and red drum. If you prefer to go along the shoreline of the Atlantic, you’ll have an opportunity to catch flounder, whiting, red drum, black drum, and pompano. And, if chartering an offshore fishing adventure is up your alley, notable finds include king mackerel, black-fin tuna, grouper, snapper, wahoo, and more!

When you visit, you can find fishing licenses can be purchased online or are on sale in most local sporting goods, tackle, and gun shops throughout the area.

7. U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament

US Open King Mackerel Tournament in Oak Island and Southport

This brings us to what is regarded as the granddaddy of all king mackerel competitions… the annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament! For fishing enthusiasts, this is the one fall event to put down on your calendar. If you aren’t familiar, this competition is one of North Carolina’s oldest and most prestigious fishing events every year. It draws in over 400 boats of various sizes and is highly admired by locals and anglers alike. Not to mention, the prize for the winner is $25,000 in cash.

You can join in the fun and experience this treasured part of Oak Island and Southport history at the beginning of October! It’s going to be a blast, no matter if your eye is on the grand prize or you are looking for something fun to do on the North Carolina coast and want to watch the fisherman as they bring in their catch.

8. Sample the Freshest Seafood in North Carolina

Fresh Seafood Coastal North Carolina

Seafood doesn’t get any fresher than on Oak Island, and you’ll have your choice of some of the top coastal North Carolina restaurants here! If you’re looking for a place to eat with a breathtaking ocean view, The Island Way is the spot to go. This upscale steak and seafood dining experience is open Wednesday to Sunday every week (from 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm). They offer fresh catches of the day and a wide variety of other menu items that will be sure to please everyone in your family.

The Lazy Turtle Oceanfront Grille is also an exceptional choice on the island that we love! Here you’ll find casual dining in a tropical setting with great seafood baskets and drinks. The diverse menu also includes appetizers, chicken wings, salads, and more.

If dining options with a waterfront view tickles your fancy, then check out this list of top oceanfront restaurants on Oak Island.

9. Grab Your Clubs & Play a Round of Golf

North Carolina Coast Golfing - Oak Island

Oak Island is a golfer’s paradise with breathtaking scenery, coastal backdrops, and a mild climate year-round! However, if you think it’s hot during the summer months on the North Carolina coast… then you’ll find that the cooler (yet still mild) climate from September through November provides the perfect playing conditions! Plus, with 6 golf courses nearby and even more courses only minutes away in Brunswick County, you’ll have a diverse range of options to choose from no matter your skill level!

Some of our favorite golf courses nearby include the Oak Island Golf Club, Oak Island Par 3 at South Harbour, The Lakes Country Club, and the Bald Head Island Club. You’ll also find private and group lessons for golfers of all ages, so bring the family and kids along for a day of entertainment!

10. Enjoy the Fall Festivals Nearby

Oak Island Festivals in the Fall - Riverfest Wilmington Place to Stay

Last but certainly not least, the family-friendly festivals you love continue throughout the fall months! Some of the most popular festivals near Oak Island include:

Join Us for the Slower Pace & Lower Rates

Visiting Oak Island in Autumn - Lower Rates & Fewer Crowds

Ready to begin planning your fall vacation to Oak Island? Now is the perfect time to enjoy the slower autumn pace, mild temperatures, and lower rental rates! You can start by browsing through our vacation rentals, and please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions. Our team would love to help you plan your next coastal North Carolina getaway.

Oak Island typically offers a temperate climate and gorgeous weather year-round, making it the perfect destination for a relaxing beach vacation with family and friends! But, there is a chance for afternoon thunderstorms during the summer and occasional rainy days no matter when you visit.

If you’re staying on the island and the storm clouds begin to roll in, don’t worry! There is an abundance of indoor activities and entertainment options to keep you and your family having fun while the rain passes. Let’s take a look at the best things to do in Oak Island, NC when it rains:

Museums near Oak Island North Carolina

1. Discover the History of the North Carolina Coast

You’ll find numerous museums and historical sites to discover right down the road in Southport! While many have outdoor spaces to explore, it’s still a fun activity for a rainy day. Our top picks include a visit to the Old Brunswick County Jail, which was built in 1904, and the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, where you can learn about the Cape Fear River maritime history. Their fascinating exhibits focus on themes like shipwrecks, hurricanes, pirates, and wars (like World War II).

If you’re a history buff, you’ll also enjoy a trip to the remarkable Fort Johnston Museum and Visitor Center in Southport! This site was first established in 1748 by the British to protect the area from Spanish and French attacks. Today, visitors can venture on a guided tour of the interior while discovering the origins of the longest operational fort in the county’s history.

Fort Fisher Aquarium - Rainy Day Activity

2. Visit the Aquarium

If you’re traveling with kids (or are a kid at heart), visiting the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a must! Located just south of Oak Island, this spot is perfect for a rainy day activity. The aquarium features over 200 species of animals, including sharks, alligators, otters, and more.

If you love aquariums and feel like island hopping, we recommend checking out Ocean Isle’s Museum of Coastal Carolina for a day filled with live sea animals, art, and local-history exhibits! The Ingram Planetarium is also right down the road and is a very entertaining place to explore for the entire family, especially on a stormy day.

Go Dining on Rainy Day in Oak Island NC

3. Sample the Local Food Scene

One of the best things to do in any town is to explore the local food scene, and Oak Island is no exception! There are plenty of great dining options to choose from, whether you’re looking for oceanfront restaurants with views of the Atlantic ocean or a casual place to stop for ice cream during a quick rain shower. In fact, there are too many to name within this article.

If you want to stay on the island, the top spots include Island Way, KoKo Cabana, Little Bits Grill, Kai-Joe’s, Bob’s Dogs, Shagger Jacks… and the newest addition, Loneride Restaurant and Brewery.

A popular spot to dine and watch the storms is at the waterfront of the Old Yacht Basin in downtown Southport! Here you can overlook the Intracoastal Waterway from one of the many restaurants – like Provision Company, Fishy Fishy Cafe, and more.

See a Movie at Surf Cinema in Southport

4. Catch a Movie at Surf Cinema in Southport

Looking for a classic rainy day activity? Head to the movies! Surf Cinema in Southport is a historic theater that originally opened its doors in 1949. Today, it has been completely restored and offers an excellent selection of newly released films. They even offer 3D features occasionally, so keep an eye out for various showings with this added bonus!

If you’re seeking an immersive IMAX experience and don’t mind the drive (or ferry ride) to Wilmington, the Regal Mayfaire is the spot to go. They even have Jaws 3D on the list of movies showing right now!

Shopping Oak Island NC

5. Retail Therapy: Antiquing, Art Galleries & More

If the rain puts a damper on your beach plans, you can take advantage of the many shopping opportunities in Southport for a day of retail therapy! Stroll down Moore Street for charming boutiques and gift shops, or visit one of the town’s antique stores and art galleries. From re-purposed antiques to clothing and extravagant coastal décor, we’re positive you will find the perfect souvenir to take home with you.

Our favorite place to visit with the kids? The Christmas House on Moore Street! Here you’ll find an assortment of unique coastal-themed gifts, puzzles, and home decor.

Spa Day Oak Island North Carolina

6. Indulge in a Spa Day

What better way to relax on a rainy day than with a trip to the spa? Treat yourself to a massage at Beachin’ Day Spa or a facial peel from Island Aesthetics and Wellness! Maybe a girl’s day at the nail salon sounds like fun? Palm & Sol Nail Boutique has you covered.

There are so many places to pick from on and around the island, each offering unique treatments and services sure to help you relax and rejuvenate. Some will even come to your vacation home to perform their services!

Visit Downtown Wilmington NC

7. Head into Wilmington for a Day Trip

Just a short drive away, the city of Wilmington offers an array of things to do on a rainy day! From exploring the historic downtown area to visiting the Cape Fear Museum or checking out the animals at the NC Zoo, there’s something for everyone in Wilmington. There’s even an indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf course that the kids will love (like “midnight bowling,” but mini golf instead).

Other favorites include the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, the USS North Carolina Battleship, the Cameron Art Museum, and the infamous trampoline park.

Things to Do at Vacation Rental on a Rainy Day

8. Ride Out the Storm at Your Vacation Rental

Of course, sometimes, the best thing to do on a rainy day is to simply stay in and ride out the storm! Fortunately, many of our Oak Island vacation rentals come equipped with plenty of amenities to keep you entertained, including sensational views, private pools, screened-in porches or wraparound balconies, and more. Whether you’re looking to curl up with a good book or spend some quality time with your family, you’re sure to find the perfect rental for your needs!

Here are a few ideas to keep you busy and having a blast indoors, even when it rains:

Storm Oak Island North Carolina

Enjoy These Things to Do in Oak Island, NC When it Rains

As you can see, there’s no need to let a little rain ruin your beach vacation! With so many things to do in Oak Island, NC, you and your family are sure to have a blast no matter what the weather brings. So, we invite you to get out there and enjoy all that our island has to offer, rain or shine!

Don’t have accommodations picked out for your next trip to OKI? We offer a wide selection of premium rentals on Oak Island — from cozy cottages to magnificent 6-bedroom homes with private pools. You can start by browsing through all of our vacation rentals on our website, and our team is here to help with recommendations for you and your group! Simply give us a call or send us a message.

Comprised of the Town of Oak Island, our coastal town is a scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life and the largest and longest of the five barrier islands that comprise North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! We’re nestled along the southern coast of North Carolina, just minutes from historic downtown Southport and the vibrant city of Wilmington.

Visitors have a chance to experience what life was like before high-rise resorts and crowded beaches. With more than ten miles of sandy shores, our island is the perfect place to relax and enjoy all that nature offers, including fishing from the two fishing piers, swimming, boating, and shelling. And for those who enjoy a little adventure, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the island’s maritime history with charter fishing trips, kayaking tours, and even treasure hunting!

Where is Oak Island North Carolina

How to Get to Oak Island

You’ll find Oak Island just south of Wilmington, and it’s easy to get to whether you’re driving or flying. Specifically, we’re just a hop, skip, and jump across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge from historic downtown Wilmington. Only a short drive down Interstate 40, you’ll find us on the Intracoastal Waterway, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the mainland. We’re also a scenic ferry ride to the beautiful Bald Head Island and a quick drive to the vibrant city of Myrtle Beach.

Want a closer look into where Oak Island is located and get directions from where you are? Check out this map of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands:


Is The Curse of Oak Island Here?

The short answer is no, our barrier island in North Carolina is not where the History Channel show The Curse of Oak Island is filmed. The popular treasure hunting show with Rick and Marty Lagina is actually based in Nova Scotia, Canada. While we wish the Lagina Brothers and Dan Blankenship the best of luck in their quest to uncover the mystery of Oak Island, you’ll have to travel much farther north to the coast of Nova Scotia to get close to this island in Canada.

Granted, coastal North Carolina has a storied past all of its own, filled with pirates and ancient treasures abound! Before it became a popular vacation destination for families and couples, it was home to Native Americans, pirates, and even the Knights Templar of North Carolina starting in the early 19th century.

Right down the road is where the real-life Pirates of the Caribbean, Blackbeard, ran the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground off the coast of what is now Beaufort Inlet. Blackbeard and several of his crew were killed in a battle with the Royal Navy shortly after that, but many believe that the pirate’s treasure still lies hidden somewhere off the coast of North Carolina.

Pirate Treasure -Oak Island and Brunswick County History

A Brief History of Brunswick County

Brunswick County was established in 1764, named for the British Royal House of Hanover, whose ruling monarch at the time was King George III. The county was originally part of Bladen County, but the western portion broke away, and Brunswick County was born.

In 1776, the first Brunswick Town was burned to the ground by the British during the Revolutionary War. The second Brunswick Town was established in 1779 but was again destroyed, this time by a hurricane, in 1786. The third and final Brunswick Town was built in 1787 and is now the site of the town of Southport, which was founded in 1792.

Today, Southport still feels like a step back in time with its historic buildings and quaint shops lining the streets. It’s home to a wide variety of activities and attractions, including the NC Maritime Museum, Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors’ Center, and the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry. It’s a great place to visit during your stay on Oak Island, only a stone’s throw away! Alongside the shops, you’ll find an abundance of restaurants, art galleries, and antique stores to explore.

Visit Oak Island NC - Caswell and Yaupon Beach

Start Planning Your Next OKI Stay Today

Whether you’re looking for a place to escape the grind or hoping to find some buried pirate treasure, Oak Island, NC is the ideal destination for your next vacation! Our team would love to help you find the perfect vacation home for you and your family or group to make memories that will last a lifetime. We’re only a call, email, or live chat message away, and we can’t wait to welcome you to the island!

Whether you’re an avid golfer, a curious first-timer, or looking for family-friendly pastimes to fill your sun-filled vacation days, you’ll find a way to enjoy golf during your vacation on Oak Island. Depending on what type of golfing experience and how far you’re willing to travel, over 20 golf courses to choose from are within driving distance of the island.

Oak Island Golfing Day with Friends

Golf Courses on Oak Island

You’re never far from the sea when you vacation on an island, and Oak Island golf courses won’t disappoint those who enjoy the challenge of ocean-side play! These are the top golfing destinations located close to your Oak Island accommodation:

Oak Island Golf Club

The Oak Island Golf Club par-72 course features 6,655 yards of golfing excellence at Caswell Beach with 18 challenging holes designed by George Cobb. For those that may not be familiar, Cobb was an esteemed golf course architect and just so happened to be one of the consultants behind the design of the incredible Augusta National Golf Course.

Oak Island Golf Club is famous for its warm hospitality and relaxed vibe typical of our area! You can opt for private instruction while there, and the course welcomes daily players and family outings. A meal at Duffer’s Pub and Grill highlights your round at Oak Island Golf Club. You must try their ribs and wings, and you can’t beat the views over the manicured course.

Oak Island Par 3 at South Harbor

Oak Island Par Three Golf Course is nestled between the beaches of Oak Island and historic Southport, close to the Cape Fear Jetport. This links-style course was designed by Edwin Burnett in 2002 and is an excellent choice for players of all skill levels.

It truly offers a fun, challenging experience for all golfers, from the very young to the seasoned player. The 1,951-yard course welcomes daily players, and you can rent a golf cart onsite or meander through the superbly manicured greens and fairways at your leisure.

Putt Putt on Oak Island

Mini Golf on Oak Island

Oak Island Jungle Mini Golf

Are you keen to try some family-friendly fun during your stay on OKI? Oak Island mini golf is an excellent way to include the whole family in a golf outing! If you’ve stayed here before, you’re probably already very acquainted with Jungle Mini Golf!

This putt-putt experience located on E Oak Island Dr offers 18 holes of fun with a tropical theme suited to all ages. It provides players with the best opportunity to achieve that highly desired hole-in-one during a stay on OKI. The course winds among the trees and lawns, with plenty of space between the 18 holes to prevent overcrowding. A river and jungle animal sculptures along the way provide plenty of photo ops, and the game arcade adds an extra element of fun after your game.

The onsite ice-cream shop is a delight, offering soft drinks and hand-dipped cones of Maola ice cream in exciting flavors. It’s the ultimate way to enjoy miniature golf on Oak Island, NC.

North Carolina Golf Courses on Coast

Golfing Nearby Oak Island

If you’re looking to get even more from your golfing holiday, you can add another three courses to your itinerary. You’ll find them just a few minutes drive away from OKI:

Carolina National Golf Club

Carolina National Golf Club is a Fred Couples signature golf course, boasting 27 holes winding through stunning low country terrain. As you progress through your round, you’ll enjoy dramatic views over the Lockwood Folly River and some of the 100 acres of wetlands common to the area.

This semi-private club holds pride of place close to Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, about 12 miles from Oak Island. Daily visitors are welcome at this semi-private club, but it’s best to book your public tee-time well in advance.

The onsite Plantation Grille offers fine dining and casual lunches daily and Tuesday and Friday dinner events. The seasonal menu showcases local ingredients, and you can look forward to enjoying premium liquors and wines with your meal.

The Lakes Country Club

The Lakes Country Club is a semi-private 18-hole, par-72 golf course offering numerous water and bunker challenges. Revered golf course architect, George Riccaboni, designed the course in 1962. The Lakes course boasts a 4-star rating from Golf Digest and is popular for its well-maintained spaces and challenging topography.

Lovely pine forests surround the course, offering glimpses of the local wildlife and birds, and The Sunset Grill is ideal for lunch, dinner, or post-game drinks.

Olde Fort Golf Club

A little further afield, the Olde Fort Golf Club offers an 18-hole par-72 regulation course about 30 minutes from Oak Island. Rayford Trask designed the course in 1989, and it’s an outstanding venue for new golfers to learn the ropes. While you’re in the area, take the opportunity to visit the Fort Fisher Aquarium before making your way back to Oak Island.

Golfing in North Carolina with Family

Golf Cart Rentals on Oak Island

Oak Island golf cart rentals include those used for regular golf courses and street legal carts for getting around town. You’ll find many outlets where you can rent these vehicles during your stay.

Most golf carts on Oak Island seat from two to six people and are a great way to traverse OKI. According to your needs, you can rent these convenient vehicles by the hour, day, or week.

Oak Island Beach - Things to Do with Family

Make the Most of Oak Island Golf Courses

Oak Island golf courses offer a fantastic opportunity to get out in nature and learn some new skills on the course! It’s a delightful way to get some exercise, enjoy family time, and admire the breathtaking scenery of this prime destination.

Apart from glorious golfing opportunities, Oak Island offers a wealth of things to delight those who choose to vacation along North Carolina’s picturesque shoreline. Please browse our selection of Oak Island accommodations for easy access to the best attractions and activities, and sign up to receive updates on our latest specials.

It’s almost the time of year when the Oak Island Farmers Market opens for the season! If you haven’t been to OKI before, you may not know about this fantastic annual event on the North Carolina coast. Here is where you will find an extensive variety of fresh produce, homemade jams, cakes, assorted baked goods, and handcrafted treasures made by local artisans. Some of our favorites over the years include remarkable jewelry, furniture, rugs, and potholders.

It’s truly a magical experience and should be something to consider adding to your vacation itinerary, especially if you love exploring local culture and discovering unique goodies. So, if you’re visiting Oak Island between May and September this year, keep reading to learn about this amazing, family-friendly event. We’ll be covering the basics, frequently asked questions, and other coastal farmers markets in the area.

Oak Island Summer Events - Farmers and Artisans Market

The Oak Island Farmers Market Schedule for 2022

The Oak Island Farmers and Artisans Market is open every Monday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm during the warmer months! In 2022, the market is set to open on May 23rd and run through September 5th. Here are those specific dates:

Where is the Oak Island Farmers Market?

The Oak Island Farmers Market takes place in the heart of the island at Middleton Park (at SE 46th Street and East Dolphin Drive). As an added bonus, this beautiful location is situated near the oceanfront — which allows you to take in gorgeous views of the water as you stroll through the artisan’s booths.

There’s also plenty of parking near the Oak Island Farmers Market along the streets or at the town hall! And, if you’re staying nearby, you can always ride a bike or golf cart over to this popular Oak Island summer event.

How Much Does The Oak Island Farmers Market Cost?

If you want to spend a day wandering the Oak Island Farmers Market booths, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s completely free to attend. However, you’ll have to stop yourself from purchasing everything in sight.

Vendors have jams, soaps, handicrafts, clothes, and baked goods to sell. Sip on a cup of craft coffee or apple cider as you browse the stalls full of tasty produce and eye-catching artisans. Depending on when you visit, you might even be welcomed with live music from a local band!

Homemade Baked Goods at Famers Market on Oak Island

Other Coastal Farmers Markets in North Carolina

If you can’t get enough of farmers markets, there are plenty of other places to visit near Oak Island! Let’s look at a couple more local farmers markets to check out that are a quick drive down the road.

Southport Summer Market (Wednesdays)

The incredible Southport Summer Market will start on May 4th, 2022, and run until August 31st, 2022! The market is open every Wednesday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, meaning that you can check out this market and the Oak Island Farmers Market during your stay!

This market pops up in Franklin Square Park and offers a wide range of local produce, handcrafted items, and baked goods. It’s another fantastic place to spend a morning with the family while exploring the North Carolina coast.

Carolina Beach Farmers Market (Saturdays)

Thinking about taking the ferry over to Fort Fisher on a Saturday morning? The Carolina Beach Market is a perfect place to stop during your island-hopping adventures! You’ll find island vibes and a wide variety of wines, meats, dairy products, veggies, natural soaps, and so much more.

This extremely pet-friendly market is open every Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm between May 21st to October 1st this year. The address is: 400 Lake Park Blvd S, Carolina Beach, NC 28428.

Artisan Market on North Carolina Coast

Enjoy The Best Of North Carolina Coast

The Oak Island Farmers Market is only one of the many summertime events to enjoy on the island! If you love festive events and live music, the Summer Concert series will be right up your alley and there are a ton of other activities on Oak Island to enjoy!

Ready to start planning your next beach vacation in North Carolina? You can start by browsing our large selection of premier Oak Island vacation rentals! Our team is also here to help answer any questions you may have and to assist you in finding the perfect vacation home for you and your family. We’re available via live chat (below), phone call, and email!

Join us in celebrating the 2nd annual Vacation Rental Week from March 7 to 11, 2022!

Family vacations not only build memories to be cherished for a lifetime, but they also give your family a break from your regular daily routine with time to reconnect and opportunities to discover new activities and cultures. Plus, according to research, they’re even good for your health!

In honor of the 3rd annual Vacation Rental week, we’d like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the key benefits of choosing to stay in a professionally managed vacation rental for your next getaway.

Benefits of a Vacation Rental Home

As a traveler, you have many choices when it comes to deciding where to stay for your family vacation, from 5-star accommodations with awe-inspiring views to chain hotels with family-friendly amenities. No matter what you’re looking for in your next getaway, we suggest considering renting a vacation home. Here are 4 reasons benefits of choosing a vacation rental:

1) Enough space for your entire family (or group)
Hotels can be beautiful, but they often lack in how much space is available. Meaning when you travel with a large group of family members or friends, it’s almost unlikely that you’ll be able to stay together in the same hotel room. In most instances, you have to reserve multiple rooms, sometimes even on different floors. This is one of the benefits of a vacation rental home; your entire group can be under the same roof and enjoy time together.

Vacation rentals also offer a cleaner, more socially-distanced experience, with fewer touchpoints and outside interaction compared to hotels, which is a key benefit as we navigate through the last mile of the pandemic.

2) All the comforts of home
The majority of vacation rentals have stocked kitchens with full-sized appliances, laundry rooms with washers and dryers, and many conveniences of home (because they are just that, homes). You’ll find cookware, dishes, and utensils to use for meals — and, depending on the property, you may even find board games, books, and movies available. This makes for a more personalized, memorable vacation experience when compared to hotels.

3) Extra vacation amenities
Think private pools, hot tubs, elevators, gourmet kitchen amenities with high-end stainless steel appliances, and plenty of outdoor space to play — all with incredible views! For instance, Oak Island is the perfect beach destination to take advantage of vacation rental homes with private pools.

In all of our properties, you’ll also have a starter kit upon your arrival. This is meant to last you the first couple of days, so you don’t need to go directly to the grocery store. It includes amenities like a roll of paper towels, a couple of garbage bags, hand soaps, and travel-sized shampoo and conditioner. If you choose to stay in a different location, ask the property manager what supplies they may or may not provide before you arrive.

4) Additional services before, during, and after your stay
Just like a hotel, you’ll have access to a local team member during your stay, and most professionally-managed vacation rentals have someone on call 24/7 in the event an emergency happens.

For instance, our knowledgeable reservations team is here to give you firsthand insights on what vacation home would fit your specific needs and can help you with planning every aspect of your vacation. Once you’re here, our local team will also only be a few minutes away to help you with any requests or should an emergency arise. And, if you accidentally leave something behind when you leave, our professional housekeeping team will be in touch to coordinate getting your items back to you.

Advantages of Booking Direct

Additionally, there are even more benefits to choosing to book your accommodations through a professional property manager like us! We think Vacation Rental week is the perfect time to revisit a few advantages and perks you might not know about:

Considering renting your Oak Island home?

For property owners, safely renting your second home through a professional manager can be an easy and reliable revenue source, transforming it into an asset that offers a significant return on your investment. You’ll also be able to use the property when you choose, spending your own vacations there with family while renting it to guests for the remainder of the year.

A professional vacation rental manager will handle all the logistics, securing reservations with guests, and maximizing your return through an expert understanding of the industry and in-depth knowledge of the local community. They’ll also handle cleaning the property to the highest standards, advertise, handle inquiries, collect deposits and balances, generate agreements, and follow-up post-rental, so you can sit back and simply enjoy the experience.

When you join the Salt & Sand family, you can finally rest easy knowing your Oak Island vacation home is being taken care of by a team that genuinely cares about you and your goals. Some of the benefits of working with us include:

Whether you’re new to renting your home as a vacation rental or switching from another property management company, our mission is to provide you with a fresh, effective way to earn income from your investment property. Instead of a “cookie-cutter” approach, we want to get to know you and your goals personally. We then use this knowledge to develop a custom management and marketing plan utilizing our proven formula for vacation rental success. Learn more about our property management services.

Ready to experience the Salt & Sand difference?

Here, at Salt and Sand Realty, our team is dedicated to providing our guests and homeowners with memorable experiences for their Oak Island vacation. Ready to start planning your OKI vacation or to learn more about renting your home? Click here to contact us. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Additionally, we’d like to say thank you to the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) for launching Vacation Rental Week.

What if you could participate in a 230-year tradition in one of the most captivating places on earth? It doesn’t get any better than the annual NC Fourth of July Festival on Oak Island! This week full of incredible family events concludes with a fantastic, patriotic fireworks celebration that you and your family will never forget.

We want you to have the best vacation of your life, so we’ve collected all of the information that you need to make the most out of your summer trip to Oak Island. Keep reading to learn all about what will be happening during one of North Carolina’s most lively weeks of the year:


Celebrate Independence Day at the Beach

A History Of The NC Fourth Of July Festival

Locals have celebrated the Fourth of July on Oak island for nearly 230 years! The first records describing the Fourth of July Festival in NC go back to 1792, but the festivities may have been taking place for even longer. After all, our country gained independence in 1776, and Oak Islanders have always been at the forefront of celebration!

We know for a fact that explosions have been a staple of the celebration since the beginning, but the earliest fireworks were actually ship cannons! At the first celebration, there were fleets of gorgeous ships floating in Southport (then Smithville) Harbor. The festivities were small back then, involving a simple toast as the cannons roared across the water.

Over those two phenomenal centuries, the festivities have only improved! Today, the celebrations strike a balance between reverence for our nation’s history and good, old-fashioned family fun. The highlight is the fifteen-minute fireworks show, beginning with a red, white, and blue American tribute.



Oak Island Fireworks and Fourth of July Festival

Fireworks on Oak Island: When and Where

There are two sets of fireworks that take place each year: the Oak Island anniversary fireworks on July 1st and the Fourth of July display on Independence Day at Southport.

The Oak Island beach fireworks will be set off on the Oak Island Pier at 705 Ocean Drive on July 1st at 9pm. It’s never a bad idea to rent an oceanfront beach house so you can watch the show in comfort. Otherwise, grab a beach chair and find a spot on the beach to enjoy the spectacular display!

A few days later, the Fourth of July Festival fireworks will be set off on the Southport Waterfront at 9pm, where residents fired their cannons many years ago.

You will be able to see both sets of fireworks from just about anywhere in Southport or Oak Island. For safety reasons, professionals launch the fireworks right on the water. There is no sight more stunning than the “double fireworks” reflected on the surface of the dark ocean on a gorgeous summer evening! Please keep in mind that roads are typically closed before the show, so plan accordingly.



Pet Friendly Parades at the Beach for 4th of July

Celebrate Independence With More Summer Activities And Events

The NC Fourth of July Festival is more than just fireworks. It’s a full week of fun-filled, family-friendly activities that will keep you busy from morning until night! You will want to schedule some time to enjoy the following events in-between visits to the beach, piers, parks, and golf courses!

Patriotic Events

The festival organizers have found ways to celebrate history and freedom throughout the week. A few of the traditional patriotic events that you can expect include:

These are genuinely spirited opportunities to engage with the nation’s history. You can even sign an oversized copy of the Declaration of Independence during the festival!

Classic Car Show And Street Parade

If you can’t get enough history, why not check out history on wheels? The classic car show is an opportunity to get up close and personal with some striking pieces of automotive history!

You can see many of the coolest cars in action when you attend the Fourth of July parade! Annually, 120 vehicles and floats travel the route. You can even catch a glimpse of Miss North Carolina, who makes her first appearance at the parade each year!

Arts And Crafts Market

Arts and crafts markets will be held in Southport and on Oak Island. The Southport Market takes place in Franklin Square Park, while you can find artisans at Oak Island’s Middleton Park Pavillion. Both markets are open all week long, along with opportunities for children’s crafts and games.

Freedom Flotilla

Why should cars have all the fun? The Freedom Flotilla is essentially a boat parade! Boats of all sizes travel a long route with plenty of viewing opportunities for the public. Many members of the local maritime community decorate their boats — and they go all out!

Live Music And Performances

You will hear nearly every musical genre you can think of during the Fourth of July festivities on Oak Island! There will be stages all over Southport and Oak Island during festival week, and Southport Museum & Visitor Center even hosts a full day of children’s entertainment on July 3rd. And, if you’re looking for something a little more dynamic, you can even catch Live Pro Wrestling at the OKI Pavillion!



4th of July on Oak Island North Carolina

Have A Happy Fourth Of July With Salt & Sand Realty

Thinking about a summer vacation to Oak Island for the Fourth of July? One thing is sure, when you rent a vacation home from Salt & Sand Realty, you might have an additional problem on your hands: guests love our rentals so much they don’t want to leave!

Plus, there is no more beautiful place to celebrate our nation’s independence than the breathtaking beaches of Oak Island, North Carolina. With a full week worth of activities and events for the whole family, you won’t regret attending the NC Fourth of July Festival! Not to mention, the sight of the explosive and colorful fireworks reflected against our twelve miles of pristine beaches will stick in your mind for life.

When you’re ready to start planning, our centrally located oceanfront homes are right in view of the big display! Just keep in mind that this is one of the busiest weeks of the year on this island — so make sure to grab your Oak Island accommodations today before they’re all booked. If you have questions or would like personalized recommendations, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

Do you fancy yourself a history buff or looking for a fun yet educational adventure during your stay on Oak Island? We highly recommend checking out the Old Brunswick County Jail Museum in Southport! It’s one of the best historical sites to add to your vacation itinerary in the Cape Fear region.

And, if you love Sissy Spacek and classic films, this is a must-do during your time here! The jail was a backdrop in the 1986 movie Crimes of the Heart. Keep reading to learn all about where the Old Brunswick County Jail is located and what you can expect when you visit.


Old Brunswick County Jail Museum near Oak Island NC


Where is Old Brunswick County Jail Located?

The Old Brunswick County Jail is located on the corners of Nash and Rhett Streets, right across from the Old Smithville Burying Ground. This two-story brick building was built in 1904 and consists of living quarters for the jailer and his family, two cells, and a runabout on the second floor. Each cell had four bunks, a washbasin, and a commode in each cell — it’s excellent for an Instagram-worthy picture!

When is the Museum Open to the Public?

If you want to visit the museum, it’s open this year from April through October on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. If you’re visiting in the peak summer months (from June to August) you can also visit the museum on Friday afternoons.

If you’re in town during the winter months, please keep in mind that this museum is closed. This is when the Southport Historical Society works its magic to add new displays and perform any maintenance needed.

Best Things To Do at the Museum

One of the best things about stopping by the museum is being able to take a fascinating trip back in time! The place is a treasure, especially to those history enthusiasts. You’ll get to know Cape Fear’s local history and gain an appreciation for why this historic site is so important.

We recommend either a guided or self-guided tour, especially when you’re visiting Oak Island for a vacation. The place is family-friendly, which means you can take your little ones with you too — we’re confident they will be captivated by the jail as well.


Discover Southport North Carolina

Other Things To Do Nearby

While you’re in Southport, you’ll find a myriad of things to do! From even more historical sites and nature trails to dining and shopping you won’t want to miss. Here are some of the top spots to check out:

You can find even more things to do in Southport here.

Oak Island Accommodations with Pool and Views

Are You Ready to Explore Coastal North Carolina?

Our team would love to help you plan your next stay to discover the storied history of the North Carolina coast! You can start by browsing our exclusive collection of Oak Island accommodations to learn more about the vacation rentals nearby all the attractions — like the Old Brunswick County Jail Museum.

Southport is a quaint coastal town in North Carolina right down the road from Oak Island that offers picturesque maritime landscapes, numerous historical sites to explore, incredible restaurants, and countless local events and shopping options! Needless to say, it’s definitely worth taking a day (or a few) to explore what’s been dubbed as “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living Magazine” during your visit to OKI.

You may even be surprised that you already recognize some of the sights! This town has been the backdrop to an assortment of popular movies and television shows like “Safe Haven,” “A Walk to Remember,” “Under the Dome,” and “Revenge.”

Keep reading to learn some of the best things to do in Southport, NC:

Waterfront Southport North Carolina

Discover Downtown

Southport’s charming and historic downtown is centered around Howe Street, where you will find it all — inviting restaurants, distinctive boutique stores, and historic buildings. This area is a great place to take a morning or afternoon stroll while discovering all the fun and unique things to do in Southport, NC. There are even numerous professionally guided walking, biking, and water tours that take place here. For those who love diving into the local culture, you’ll be excited to find a myriad of antique stores, art galleries featuring local artists, and gift shops awaiting.

Southport North Carolina Pier

See the Views & Witness the Wildlife

Speaking of downtown, you’ll find the Cape Fear River at the very end of Howe Street — where Southport’s Waterfront Park, historic Riverwalk, and the Southport Pier are located. You’ll instantly understand why this area is extremely popular with locals and visitors alike! The 9-acre waterfront park is the perfect place to cozy up on a bench and take in the riverscape. Simply sit back and relax as boats float by and the various species of birds soar above. You may even see dolphins playing in the water right in front of you.

When you’re ready to get back up and go on an adventure, the Riverwalk and Southport Pier are only a few steps away. The Riverwalk is nestled on the river’s edge and is the perfect destination for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride. And, with multiple fishing platforms, the pier will be a welcomed addition to your Southport visit for the anglers in your family or group.

Next on the list and not to be missed, the Southport Marsh Walk is one of the area’s scenic highlights! It’s located right down the road on Brunswick Street, near the Southport Marina. Stroll down the boardwalk to see views of local landmarks (like Fishy Fishy Cafe) and the marsh before you end at the overlook platform! If you haven’t already guessed, you’ll have many chances to witness nature firsthand — including coastal birds like white ibis, pelicans, egrets, and great blue herons.

Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry

Get Out on the Water

A bit farther down the road is where you will find the newly improved Southport Marina! No matter if you choose to rent a boat or charter a deep-sea fishing vessel for the day, you’ll be able to launch from here. They have a diverse selection of options to choose from — like Boston Whaler boat rentals, tug boat charters, and a variety of opportunities for sailing. Granted, you might find a guided boat tour the best option if you aren’t familiar with the area.

Another way to get out on the water is to go on a ferry ride! Cruise along the Cape Fear River to embark on an adventure to either Bald Head Island or Fort Fisher. Learn about the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry and the Bald Head Island Ferry here.


Old Brunswick County Jail in Southport

Explore the History of the North Carolina Coast

For the history buffs in your family, you’ll find North Carolina has a storied past that’s intriguing to discover about for all ages! While there are multiple historic sites in Southport, we would say the most popular places to visit are:

Food and Drinks Southport NC

Wine & Dine at Southports Restaurants

If you’re looking for dining opportunities near Oak Island without venturing all the way to Wilmington, this is the perfect destination! There are over 20 restaurants in Southport, and multiple eateries have stunning water views. The seafood also doesn’t get any fresher — from the well-known Fishy Fishy Cafe and the Provision Company to Oliver’s on the Cape Fear; you’ll find everything you’re looking for here. Check out this page for a complete list of restaurants in Southport.

Coastal Marsh Views in North Carolina

Places to Stay near Southport, NC

When you stay on Oak Island, you’ll be about 10 to 15 minutes from downtown Southport while being able to enjoy everything the island has to offer! Sound like the perfect getaway? You can start by browsing our exclusive collection of vacation homes on Oak Island, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

Ah, the beginning of spring on Oak Island! There’s nothing like this time of year — the weather begins to warm up, flowers start to bloom, and the wildlife awakens from the winter slumber. You’ll find that high temperatures in March and April float anywhere from the high 60s to the low 80s during the day, and you’ll feel like the only one on the beach during the spring months on the island! Children are still in school for most of the season, making for a quieter atmosphere on Oak Island for those seeking a tranquil getaway. Keep in mind that it does cool off after the sun goes down, but the cooler evenings are perfect for stargazing and relaxing at one of our vacation homes with a heated pool or swim spa!

For those looking to travel to Oak Island in the spring, you’ll find some of the best times to visit along with our favorite things to do below.

Spring Break Getaway in North Carolina

Spring Break at the Beach in North Carolina

Oak Island is a popular spot for families and friends to visit for spring break in North Carolina! No matter if you’re thinking about a trip with your family or your college roomies, you’ll find something here for everyone. 

For instance, the Cape Fear Craft Beer Week kicks off on Friday, March 25th, and runs through Sunday, April 3rd! This annual event celebrates the craft beer community with an entire week dedicated to sampling brews, fantastic food, live music, and more across the Wilmington area. For instance, the Cape Fear Craft & Cusine event will be held right at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher on April 2nd, 2022! Local chefs will be pairing their best dishes with local brews at this event for a tantalizing experience that every beer connoisseur will surely love.

Easter Vacation on Oak Island

Easter on Oak Island in the Spring

The first “major holiday” every year on the island is Easter weekend, and there are so many annual traditions to fall in love with (if you haven’t already)! You’ll find family-friendly celebrations to take advantage of, like Easter egg hunts, a parade, and as always, excellent dining options. Plus, most of the events are free and require no registration to join in the fun.

The Southport Spring Festival is the first thing that comes to our mind when asked about spring events near OKI! This Easter weekend event is typically held at Franklin Square Park and offers a wide variety of activities for everyone in the family. There is normally live music, handmade arts and crafts, activities just for the kiddos, numerous local food vendors on-site, and even a 5K run. Please note, this event happens to not be pet-friendly. But, keep scrolling to learn about the Doggie Eggstravaganza if you’re traveling with your furry family members.

Easter Egg Hunts? Yes! Gather your Easter baskets and check out these two annual events that are a must while you’re visiting. The first is Oak Island’s Easter Egg Hunt that is held at Bill Smith Park and geared towards those 10 years old and younger. Just over the bridge in Southport, you’ll find the second Easter Egg Hunt at Franklin Square Park and Fort Johnson Garrison Lawn. 

Now, for those who are looking for a pet-friendly Easter event on Oak Island, you will want to check out the Annual Doggie Eggstravaganza! This event is usually held in Southport at Bill Smith Park and will surely get your pooch in the holiday spirit. Please keep in mind that all dogs must be current on all vaccinations to participate.

Memorial Day Weekend

Oak Island Memorial Day Weekend at the Beach

And, last but not least, the third most popular time to visit Oak Island before summer is… drum roll, please… Memorial Day weekend! It’s the unofficial start to summer, and you’ll find your favorite seasonal restaurants and stores re-opening for the season.

If you haven’t taken a ferry over to Bald Head Island before, their Memorial Day Weekend Celebration event is the time to do it! You’ll find countless hikes, watersports, art events, and plenty of incredible food to kick off the summer season with. 

Maybe you prefer an escape into nature on the beach? This is one of the best times of the year to visit Oak Island for seeing the Loggerhead turtles come ashore during the nighttime hours to lay their eggs! The egg-laying season typically begins in mid-May and continues into August, with the hatchlings usually emerging about two months later.

Places to Stay on Oak Island this Spring

Oak Island Oceanfront Heated Swim Spa

Looking forward to a spring vacation of a lifetime? Our Oak Island vacation rental homes have everything you need to entertain and relax during your time away from home! From oceanfront properties with a swim spa at A Sight to Sea, you’ll be able to find your ideal rental with us. Simply browse through our properties or give us a call for assistance with your planning needs!

The holiday season is right around the corner and there’s nothing like visiting the NC coast in the winter months! Oak Island Christmas festivities bring excitement and fun for the entire family and are perfect for getting into the holiday spirit — from extravagant parades and holiday festivals to brilliant light displays and many other cherished traditions. Plus, the mild temperatures make this an ideal time to soak up the sun from the shore during the afternoon and then gather around a beach bonfire with your loved ones in the evening.

Let’s take a look at some of our favorite holiday traditions on and around Oak Island…

Christmas by the Sea Parade on Oak Island

Christmas by the Sea on Oak Island

The annual Christmas by the Sea Parade will be held on Saturday, December 4th! If you haven’t visited the North Carolina coast for Christmas before, this is one event not to miss. Decorated floats and golf carts showcasing our favorite local businesses will go from Town Hall on East Oak Island Drive to McGlamery Street. And, make sure you stick around for the final float to see Santa and Mrs. Claus!

For those who aren’t familiar, the Christmas by the Sea Parade event has been organized for over 35 years by the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Oak Island. There’s something new every year to experience, and it’s one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit!

Southport Winterfest

Southport Flortilla Winterfest

If you’re visiting Oak Island in December from the 5th to 11th, the Southport WinterFest 2021 is a must! This week-long event will kick off on December 5th with the first annual Bicycle & Golf Cart Christmas Parade — where you can deck your bike (and yourself) for a fun ride around Southport. Even if you don’t participate in the actual parade, we know it will be just as magical to watch. This event will start at Franklin Square at 6pm.

Events throughout the week include A Candy Cane Garden Party on December 7th, The State Port Pilot Annual Cookie Contest on December 8th, and an outdoor showing of Polar Express on December 9th at the Garrison Lawn. However, the weekend truly ramps up the holiday fun at Southport!

On Friday, December 10th, you’ll find Caroling with the Sea Notes from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in Franklin Square before the main event of the evening — the “Light Up The Night” Christmas Parade. This extravagant parade will begin at 6:30pm, and the parade route will be as follows: Waterfront Park, down Howe Street, and then back to the Southport Fire Station. After the parade, children are invited to visit with Santa, and concessions will be available from local vendors!

Saturday, December 11th will be another day of the record books! The festivities will begin at 9am with Southport’s Annual Winter Craft Festival at Franklin Square Park. You’ll find seasonal vegetables, homemade baked goods, jellies, and unique local art at this farmer’s market-style event that’s open until 4pm.

The next stop is Southport’s Santa’s Workshop from 10am to 11am! The young ones in your group will have the opportunity to make ornaments, decorate cookies, and create other holiday-themed crafts. We’ll be headed to the beach and pier afterward for a relaxing afternoon — but if you want to explore the area more, there are so many other things to do on and around the island.

In the evening, the spot-to-be is at the Southport Christmas Flotilla watching the beautifully decorated boats and the lights glow from the water! Grab your chairs and blankets to watch the Christmas lights from the waterfront’s edge. This boat parade will start promptly at 7pm, and we recommend getting there a little bit early to snag the best view.

Festival of Trees at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Festival of Trees near Wilmington

If you don’t mind a short 30-minute drive from Oak Island, The Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach is hosting their annual Festival of Trees again this year! You’ll find a selection of beautifully decorated trees by local businesses and organizations displayed through the museum’s galleries from November 11th, 2021, to January 1st, 2022.

Touring the Festival of Trees is included with general admission to the museum, and it is open to the public every week: Thursday through Sunday from 10am to 3pm. Additional hours will be offered on the following Sundays from 1pm to 4pm: November 14, 21, 28 and December 5, 12, 19.

If you’re visiting for Thanksgiving, the Holiday Night at the Museum is a fun family-friendly event that will take place on November 26th! This is the Grand Opening for the Festival of Trees and is a celebration you won’t want to miss. There will be all-day activities for the kids, including photo opportunities with Santa Jaws and a gift bag. Terri Frazee will also be sharing Holiday Stories and Carols in the Barrier Island Gallery at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. You’ll even find wall decor and wreaths available for sale.

Holiday Shopping on the Coast

Holiday Shopping in Southport and on Oak Island

The first place that instantly comes to mind for holiday shopping on the coast is… The Christmas House! While it’s open year-round, there’s a little bit of extra magic in the air for the holidays. If you’ve been here before, you already know they have everything Christmas-related you can think of and is a perfect place to find unique coastal-themed gifts. We’re certain you’ll find something here for everyone, from a large assortment of puzzles and home decor to sea turtle ornaments and lavish ribbons for all of your decorating needs.

There are so many other options to choose from in Southport and on Oak Island to find gifts for all of your loved ones! If you’re a foodie, check out Nancy Jo’s Homemade Bakery or the artisan cheeses from around the world at Southport Cheese Shoppe. Wine enthusiast? Uncorked by the Sea is right down the road and offers a great variety of hard-to-find wine and beer. Know someone who is in need of a vacation? We can even help you with planning something and a gift card!

Beach Bonfires

Bonfire on the Oak Island Beach in the Winter

What’s better than a beach bonfire after an afternoon of retail therapy or discovering all the holiday events near Oak Island? Yes, that was a trick question — because we don’t think much is better than doing just that! Bonfires are allowed on Oak Island between November 16th to April 30th, and the permits are free. All you need to do is grab one from the local fire department.

Just keep in mind that you must apply for a permit within 72 hours of your planned beach fire on Oak Island. You can learn more about the permits and take a look at frequently asked questions on the Town of Oak Island’s website.

These are only some of the top Oak Island Christmas events this year to enjoy with your family and friends! Head over to our events page for more details, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive events and exclusive specials straight to your inbox.

Cooking a Meal Together at Your OKI Vacation Home

Holiday Vacation to the Beach - Oceanfront Vacation Rentals

Whether it’s your annual tradition or you’re looking to create new ones, there are so many reasons why renting a vacation home on the coast is a great way to spend the holidays! Just imagine overlooking a breathtaking ocean or marsh view while creating memories that will last a lifetime with family and friends.

All of our exclusive Oak Island rentals have everything you need to prepare your meal together with fully equipped kitchens that have full-size appliances, cookware, dishes, glassware, utensils, and more. You’ll even find extra amenities that you might not have at home, like a hot tub for lounging and an elevator for those in your family who have a difficult time walking up stairs. Depending on the property, you may even find board games, books, and movies available.

Visit Oak Island this Winter & Save

Coastal Vacation to Oak Island for the Holidays

When you’re ready to start planning your holiday vacation to OKI… our team would love to help you find the perfect vacation rental to meet all of your needs. Plus, you can save 15% on your 2021 Oak Island Christmas vacation by using promo code WINTER21! Learn more about our current specials and browse our rentals now.

Are you looking for a day out with your family and friends to discover the North Carolina coast? The Fort Fisher Aquarium is a place where all ages can enjoy themselves! It is educational and fun for the littles, with lots to see and do for the adults as well. For those of you staying on Oak Island, it’s about an hour’s drive away. But, we recommend taking the 35-minute ferry ride from Southport to add even more fun to your excursion!

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to make the most of your day or jump below to learn about how to get there and getting tickets.

Exhibits and Animals 

Did you know that the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is ranked among the top aquariums in the world? When you enter, you’ll notice that there are several different sections of exhibits and animals! All exhibits are also fully accessible for everyone, and the two floors have elevators and stairs.

You start with the freshwater exhibits, followed by saltwater exhibits in the Marine Building, concluding with the Adventure Reef’s outdoor exhibit. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite areas you can experience while visiting!

Exhibits at Fort Fisher Aquarium

Cape Fear Conservatory

The first stop in the self-guided tour takes you to the Cape Fear Conservatory, which houses hundreds of the species of the Cape Fear River! The conservatory replicates the river banks with its many mini-ecosystems such as ponds, trees, streams, and swamps, making the animals feel at home. You will find frogs, snakes, fish, and more in this tree-filled atrium.

Additionally, the conservatory made room in 2019 for Luna, a rare albino alligator. Albino alligators usually do better in protected areas as they often don’t survive well in the wild. 

A new exhibit also houses a family of otters rescued recently and are now safe in the conservation. Additionally, you’ll see an old favorite, Maverick, the rescued bald eagle. 

White Albino Alligator - North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Marine Building

Next is the saltwater section called the Marine Building. It accommodates the Open Oceans Gallery, home to many marine animals, such as jellyfish, octopus, corals, and two ledges called the Sharktooth Ledge and Cape Fear Ledge. 

You’ll also notice the Cape Fear Shoals, an exhibit that reaches from the top to the bottom level of the Marine Building filled with beautiful fish that can swim in safety and leisure. Additionally, there is a Megalodon Exhibit, an Exotic Aquatics area with a Shark Touch Tank, and much more.

Adventure Reef 

After the family has seen everything to their heart’s desire, the kids can play at the Adventure Reef. This playground has many fun activities that challenge kids from 2 to 12 with innovative equipment to keep the kids entertained for hours.

Once you exit the Marine Building, you can also take a look at the garden. It features a Birding Deck, Memorial Garden, and a Pond Overlook. These outdoor exhibits are created to reduce the CO2 footprint designed to run the aquarium, the conservation, and the daily operations required to keep it going. 

Other Things To Do at the Aquarium

If you’ve worked up an appetite during your visit, you’ll find a variety of food and drink options available daily from March to November at “SharkBites Snack Bar”! There’s also a fabulous gift shop filled with coastal fun for those who love souvenirs — toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, clothes, and much more. 

To get a better lay of the land (or ocean), you can find a map of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher on their website.

Special Events

In the past, the Fort Fisher Aquarium hosted several annual events such as Behind the Scenes tours, Annual Christmas Tree Decorating, and much more! However, due to COVID, most of the events are canceled at the moment. Instead, they are hosting plenty of virtual programs fit for the entire family.

If you’ve dreamed of having your wedding at an aquarium, you can even do it here! You can rent out this North Carolina aquarium for your next private event, like a wedding or corporate event.

Fort Fisher Aquarium - Discover Marine Life

Location, Directions, and Tickets

So, you’re ready to plan your visit? The aquarium is open daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm year-round, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They say that visitors should expect to spend about 2 hours touring the entire facility, not including digging in the outdoor “fossil pit.” 

How to get there? Like we mentioned above, we recommend taking the 35-minute ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher. This Oak Island ferry departs right down the road from Deep Point Marina and takes you towards Carolina and Kure beaches. Definitely worth a trip across the Cape Fear River if you ask us.

If you prefer driving or the ferry is not running, you’ll find it’s about an hour drive from Oak Island — or 15 miles south of Wilmington on US 421. You can enter the aquarium’s address in your GPS to get there. It’s 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC, 28449.

Tickets: The aquarium does have a membership that is part of the NC Zoo Membership Program. However, if you are on vacation on Oak Island, your best bet is to buy a one-time ticket. The current price for a one-time ticket is as follows:

We’ve heard that special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as military personnel and veterans. Additionally, please remember that Fort Fisher Aquarium follows the local COVID regulations, and reservations are limited per day. Therefore, make sure you reserve your tickets well in advance to ensure that you can go whenever works for you.

Fort Fisher North Carolina - Historic Site

Other Fun Activities In the Area

While you are “across the pond,” you can enjoy many of the other activities that Fort Fisher and Wilmington have to offer! For instance, the Fort Fisher State Recreation area is right down the road and was the site of two major Civil War battles. The North Carolina Military History Museum is only about a 7-minute drive from the aquarium as well.

The Carolina Beach State Park and Wilmington are both right around the corner for those who want to make a day trip out of it! We think this topic deserves its own post since there are so many things to do in these areas. Signing up to our monthly newsletter is the best way to find out when we post new guides and stay in the know with everything to do near OKI!

Things to Do Near Oak Island - Fort Fisher

Where to Stay Near Fort Fisher Aquarium?

After an exciting day at the Fort Fisher Aquarium, you can enjoy even more wildlife viewing on Oak Island! You’ll find untouched, natural habitats that are home to sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, pelicans, a variety of wading birds, and more.

When you’re ready to start planning your trip, we’d love to help you find the perfect home-away-from-home on OKI for you and your family! You can browse through our exclusive collection of vacation homes on Oak Island, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have. We can’t wait to welcome you to OKI!