Live Outdoors: Bald Head Island
There’s a place called Bald Head Island just two miles across the Cape Fear River, where mainland life is left behind for a while. Transportation goes from cars and buses to golf carts, bicycles, and your own two feet. Fourteen miles of pristine beach wait to greet you, and you can play golf by the sea. It’s the site of Old Baldy, the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina. Bald Head Island is a place where there’s an abundance of outdoor activities, a place where you want to live your life outside.
The beaches are beautiful, broken up into sections depending on what you want to do. South Beach is calmer with long stretches of beach, ideal for walking or relaxing with a good book. For those seeking play, East Beach is perfect for activities like boogie boarding and surfing. There’s even Cape Fear Point, where Frying Pan Shoals extends 30 miles offshore.
One way to get around the island is by bicycle, and the gentle coastal terrain makes this an easy task. With 15 miles of road to cruise, more experienced cyclists can get a good ride in, too. Whether or not you come with a bike in tow, Bald Head Island has places to rent bikes—and you can rent them by the hour, day, or week! Coastal Urge and Riverside Adventure Company offer bikes from beach cruisers to fitness bikes, so there’s bound to be a bike that will fit your needs.
If you’re looking to wander on foot, the island has plenty of great hiking trails. The M. Kent Mitchell Nature Trail has 360 degree views of the marsh, and as you walk the trail you’ll see all kinds of beautiful flora and wildlife. Other trails, ranging from easy to moderate, can be found at the Bald Head Woods Maritime Forest Preserve, and organized hikes/nature walks are offered through Bald Head Island Conservancy. These hikes give visitors a chance to really explore the maritime forest alongside an experienced naturalist. For the more adventurous, Riverside Adventure offers geocaching treasure hunts where island exploration is plentiful.
If casting a line is more your speed, great fishing can be found in the creeks surrounding the island. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a drum, trout or flounder. The Bald Head Island Conservancy offers programs and camps for children and classes for families to learn about the outdoors. Or, if you’d like to hit the links, the Bald Head Island golf course is eco-friendly, where you’ll see native plant materials and will encounter wildlife such as herons, egrets, foxes, and alligators, during any round. Junior golfers (those 15 or under) play free with a paying adult.
Perhaps you’d rather explore by way of the water. Bald Head has guided kayak and canoe tours, which is the best way to access the island’s many creeks. The Bald Head Island Conservancy and Sail Shop offer tours for individuals and small groups, from all ages and skill levels. Coastal Urge offers standup paddleboard excursions for the entire family. Regardless of whether you’ve ever dipped a paddle in the water or not, this is one way to explore that you’ll fall in love with.
Let’s not forget the other, more traditional outdoor activities beach areas are known for. Take a day to take kite boarding lessons, go swimming, or hang ten. Sail the waters through the Sail Shop, with a relaxed sailing experience on Jive or Joyride. Even the island’s best parties happen outside, year-round. Howl at the Moon is a gathering of islanders on the beach each month during the full moon, and Sunset Celebrations happen every Wednesday, Memorial Day through Labor Day. No matter how you decide to explore the island, one thing is clear. With so many activities and so much nature to behold, life is best on Bald Head Island when you live it outdoors.