Bald Head Island, North Carolina - My Family Travels

Quiet Bald Head Island is a family favorite, car-free beach resort off the coast of North Carolina. The shoreline boasts inns and rental homes as a base to enjoy golf, environmental programs, pizza parties and watersports.

Two boys run into surf carrying boogie boards. Photo c.
Playing all day in the surf is one of the pleasures of a Bald Head Island vacation. Photo c.

A well established resort island, Bald Head has a variety of recreation and children’s programs that make it a family favorite. Due to the temperate weather, guests are welcomed year-round. Families, however, prefer summer months when they are able to enjoy the full range of activities and childcare programs.

The Brunswick Islands off the North Carolina Coast

Where is this special place? Hint: North Carolina’s southernmost point is the Brunswick Islands, exquisite barrier islands that stretch to South Carolina. This is perhaps the best known of the six islands, along with Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Caswell Beach and Oak Island, that comprise the Brunswick Islands.

Two miles off the coast, where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean, Bald Head Island offers a fantastic natural setting. Keep in mind, that unlike the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Bald Head is protected by the mainland. Having the mainland as a land barrier makes it less susceptible to stormy weather and rough seas.

Accessible only by ferry, private boat or plane, this no-vehicle island offers visitors a relaxed, slow-paced getaway. Enjoy the chance to explore a unique environment with 14 miles of pristine beaches.

Exploring the Marsh and Maritime Forest Ecosystem

Red kayak bow in the marshlands of North Carolina. Photo c.
Explore the local habitat and watch birdlife while kayaking the marsh lands. Photo c.

The Bald Head Island Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the environment of barrier islands. Explore their many conservation programs. Since Bald Head Island is one of the East Coast’s most prominent nesting grounds, they run several programs for the endangered loggerhead turtle.

Sign up for environmentally oriented programs for families and youngsters. Look for the popular nightly Turtle Walks and the Conservancy Camp for ages 5-9. Sea turtle nesting season on Bald Head Island runs from early-May to late August. Turtle hatching begins in early July and runs through the end of October.

Vacation Rentals and Activity Clubs on Bald Head Island

Old Baldy Lighthouse watches over kayakers exploring the shores of Bald Head Island. Photo c.
Old Baldy Lighthouse watches over kayakers exploring the shores of Bald Head Island. Photo c.

Intracoastal Realty Vacation Rentals is one of many real estate management companies that offer vacation rentals on the islands. VRBO and Airbnb provide many other rental options as do the private membership clubs. Like traditional country clubs, these members-only venues may broker rentals of member homes. You may want to join one when you visit because these clubs provide every conceivable facility for all types of activities.

The Bald Head Island Club, for example, is one that offers island activities for the entire family. There’s biking and hiking, golf, tennis and croquet on land. At sea, try fishing and crabbing, clamming, canoeing or sailing and surfing. The club’s restaurants are known for their fine dining style and excellent cuisine. Many of the island’s independent vacation rentals come with a BHI Club membership. Short stay visitors may apply for a guest membership.

The Shoals Club is built on the dunes at Frying Pan Shoals, with one of the island’s best views of Cape Fear. Like the BHI Club, it is a membership club with similar facilities, an active schedule of fitness classes, and an annual or guest membership fee structure.

Staying Around the Bald Head Island Marina

Short stay accommodations are available at the waterfront Marsh Harbour Inn whose expansion includes timeshare units and long-stay hotel suites. Guests say the ambiance is part New England style and part Southern hospitality.

Families renting a privately-owned property have access to the salt water swimming pool and baby pool, beach (plus chairs and umbrella), fitness room and the inn’s fine and casual dining. Talk to Guest Services about boat, bicycle and cart rentals. It’s always busy so book teens and children’s activities, croquet and tennis court reservations prior to your arrival.

The marina, the most commercial area of the island, is the place to find shops and restaurants. Southern Living recommends Sandpiper Cafe for its breakfasts and iced coffee. Delphina Cantina serves up a Latin inspired lunch or dinner on-site, and takeout pizzas. Their Luna Forest Bar, the place for margaritas and live tin pan music, is popular with visitors coming in by the evening ferry.

And go green! In true Bald Head Island fashion, use the eco-friendly golf cart that comes with your guestroom to explore the island.

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3 Replies to “Bald Head Island, North Carolina”

  • According to a report by Channel 6 in Wilmington, Bald Head Island was named for a geographical feature, not an anatomical one. In sailors' terms, the "head" of an island is its highest peak, the landmark most visible at distance from the sea.

    When first seen, this island next to the Cape Fear River (and a very important navigation point) could be spotted by its highest point, a sand dune at the river's mouth. A high point or 'head' covered in sand was known as a 'bald head' therefore the island's name.

    let us know how your visit goes!

  • James Miller

    What is the origin of the name, "Baldhead Island"?

  • Sidney Rosen

    What is the average weather Aug-Oct?