If you’re in the Brunswick Islands, you probably came for the beautiful, uncrowded beaches, and an easy stress-free vacation. But as you look around, you will find that nature has touched this region with a singular beauty. Because the pristine beaches face south, you can sit on the sand and enjoy watching both sunsets and sunrises. But don’t just be tied to the surf. Allow yourself to take some inland expeditions. The Brunswick Islands has so much to offer nature lovers! Coastal birds hover for fish over stunning marshes. Reeds blow in the soft breeze on sand dunes. Hear the trills of rare and endangered birds in coastal forests. Trudge through muddy tidal flats to discover hidden beauty that few tourists ever get to experience. This coastal community offers more than just a sandy day in the sun. This region is also known for the largest variety of unusual plant species in North Carolina. Use your vacation time to de-stress and get in touch with nature.
Nature Preserves & State Parks Near the Brunswick Islands
Bald Head Island Conservancy
700 Federal Rd, Bald Head Island, NC • (910) 457-0089
The Bald Head Island Conservancy’s mission is to ensure that the natural beauty of this region is protected and preserved. The island is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other. Your family has a plethora of fun options:
-exciting adventure programs
-walking the clean, protected beach
-or hiking through salt marsh, maritime forest, dune and beach habitats
40th Street and West Main Street, Sunset Beach, NC • (910) 962-2998
Bird Island is a barrier island completely untouched by development. As you walk through the wild terrain, you will encounter empty beaches, large dunes, salt marshlands and peaceful tidal creeks. You may also encounter the threatened loggerhead sea turtle.
Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve
1 Leeds Road, Boiling Spring Lakes, NC • (910) 395-5000
When exploring the average natural habitat, one will expect to find about ten or so plants every step. But Boiling Springs has almost double the number of rare and interesting flora growing in their wetlands. The harsh climate and soil of the region has also given visitors a rare treat–species, such as the carnivorous Venus Flytrap, have evolved and thrived. This preserve hosts a bounty of beautiful flora and plentiful fauna you won’t soon forget.
Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve
6150 Rock Creek Road NE, Leland, NC • (910) 962-4191
Originally settled by pre-Revolution English settlers, this area is now a coastal forest nature preserve that can boast of being featured on the North Carolina Birding Trail. Visitors can wander seven miles of well-maintained trails while listening to the sweet melodies of several species of warbler. Learning stations along the trail allow this to be an educational as well as restful excursion.
Green Swamp Preserve
Highway 211, Supply, NC • (910) 395-5000
The open savannas of the Green Swamp Preserve are dotted with majestic longleaf pines, still shrub bogs, beautiful orchids and 14 species of carnivorous plants, including the rare sundew and pitcher plants. Just be sure to keep your distance from the American Alligators who calls this preserve home.
Carolina Beach State Park
1010 State Park Road, Carolina Beach, NC • (910) 458-8206
At Carolina Beach State Park, miles of hiking trails will not only lead to the diverse habitats this region is known for, you will also get to experience the rich history of the region. Both Native Americans and pirates called this area home. You can see Sugarloaf, a 50-foot sand dune that has been a landmark since 1663. A marina also provides a perfect starting out point to explore some of the best fishing spots in North Carolina.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC • (910) 458-5798
Fort Fisher is known as the location of one of the premier North Carolina aquariums as well as the Civil War era fort that the area is named for. But the protected oceanfront attracts visitors who want to experience the pristine beauty and rare species who make their nests along the shoreline. A four-wheeling adventure is also allowed seasonally.