Hello lovelies! Sorry it seems like I’ve been MIA for the past week or so. Last week was crazy busy as I prepared to head up to North Carolina for 5 days for a good friend’s wedding. The wedding was in Bald Head Island, which is definitely one of the more unique coastal destinations I’ve been to. There are no cars allowed on the island, and there are also no hotels, so it can be a little daunting to try to plan a vacation there, so I’m sharing some insider tips of things you will want to know if you are planning to take a trip to this lush little island.
Although it may seem like a hassle to get there, it’s worth it. The island is extremely beautiful and serene and is a great option for those wanting to get away from it all. The 4 square miles the island covers consist of a number of different environments — you’ll find wide, sandy beaches, expansive marshes (keep an eye out for alligators!), and thick foresty areas with lush vegetation and Spanish moss draped trees. There is plenty to do, from relaxing on the beach to fishing to hiking to kayaking to visiting Old Baldy, the oldest standing lighthouse in the state.
Bald Head Island is definitely a more exclusive destination, and it’s important to factor in all the costs associated with going. I’m going to break down some of those costs for you, and also give you some things to consider when planning your trip.
Bald Head Island is accessible by ferry from Deep Point Marina in Southport, NC. The ferry is a passenger ferry (obviously since cars aren’t allowed), and you park your car and leave it at the ferry port for $8 a day. A ferry ticket (return trip included) will cost you $23 per person. You can check as much luggage as you want free of cost, as long as everything is contained in a suitcase/bag or plastic bin. Ferries to the island leave on the hour, and ferries from the island leave on the half hour.
To get from the ferry port to your accommodation, you will need to make reservations on the complimentary tram. You do not need to make ferry reservations, but you will need to make tram reservations because seats fill up fast. To do this, you can contact Bald Head Island Transportation (910-457-5003). In busy season, I would suggest calling the day before you need the tram, otherwise 2-3 hours is fine in off season. You just tell them what ferry you will be taking and where you are staying and it will be there to pick you up when you arrive at the port. The same goes for your trip home. Make reservations in advance and the tram will pick you and your luggage up at your accommodations and take you to the ferry port.
There are no hotels or high-rise condo buildings on the island, so your best bet is to rent a beach house. I think there might be one B&B, but other than that, it’s all owner-rented homes. Some good resources to find homes are VRBO, HomeAway, Tiffany’s Rentals, and Bald Head Island’s site.
Consider what you’re looking for in your rental. If you want a private escape, look for homes tucked off of the smaller streets in the wooded areas. You might even spot a deer or two. For easy access to some of the boardwalks and trails, stay along the marsh. If you plan to spend most of your days enjoying the sun and sand, there are homes that are beachfront or right across from beach access.
I stayed in the Bald Head Island Villas, which were super convenient to everything, especially the Bald Head Island Club (where many of the wedding events where held). These villas are right across the street from the beach, and are smaller, 3-bedroom homes. Ours overlooked a pond and golf course. It was about a 5 minute golf cart drive to the market and shops, and about 7 minutes to the restaurants and Old Baldy Lighthouse.
I believe most rentals come with golf carts, but make sure of this before committing to anything. If they don’t have carts, or if you need extras, you can rent them from Riverside Adventure Company on the island.
There are only a few restaurants on the island, and they can be a little pricey because they are the only ones, so if you’re staying for a week, I would consider cooking in some nights.
Mojo’s on the Harbor is classic coastal dining, with seafood entrees, pasta, burgers, and sandwiches. For entrees, expect to spend $20 and up per entree.The burgers are a good, less expensive option. They are very sizable and the fries that come with them are delicious. Mojo’s also has a good selection of cocktails, but things can get quite pricey if you start throwing back more than one. They range anywhere from $9 for a mojito to $15 for a margarita.
Delphina Cantina serves Latin cuisine with the influence of fresh seafood, and is a littler cheaper than Mojo’s. You’ll find tacos, burritos, tortas, and entrees such as fish and chips, seafood enchiladas, and cubanos. I really enjoyed the BHI Favorite tacos with tequila marinated shrimp, jicama slaw, watercress, and chimichurri sauce ($13 for two tacos). We got a pitcher of white sangria for $22, which yielded about 6 wine glasses worth.
The Maritime Market Cafe, located inside the market, also has breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. There are also grab-and-go breakfast options like muffins and donuts. The market has a selection of groceries if you need anything, but regular products are a little overpriced, so I would suggest doing your major grocery shopping on the mainland and bringing it over in a cooler on the ferry with you.
The Bald Head Island Club also has a few restaurants but you have to be a member to dine with them. Some home rentals include a temporary membership to the club. Check with your rental company to see if it’s included for you.
Sandpiper Coffee and Ice Cream is great if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat after the beach or a little afternoon pick me up.
Things to Consider
-The beaches in North Carolina don’t truly get warm until the end of April, and it will take a little longer than that for the water to warm up. Peak season starts at Memorial Day, but you will be able to get better rates before that, and the weather probably will have warmed up a month or so prior.
-Bald Head Island is a favorite for golfers. If you plan on golfing, consider renting a home that includes a temporary membership to the BHI Club. If the home doesn’t include it, you can purchase a guest membership.
-If croquet is more your style, the BHI Club also has a regulation croquet court. But if you want to play, you have to wear all white and have your croquet cleats on (I mean, who doesn’t have these in their closet?).
-There is no liquor store on the island. The market sells beer and wine, but if you’re wanting to mix up your own cocktails, make sure to bring liquor with you.
-And speaking of liquor…getting a DUI on a golf cart is the same as getting a DUI in the car. There are police, and they will pull you over if you’re driving your golf cart a little too crazy. Same goes for open container. Don’t drink and golf cart, y’all.
Hopefully these tips will help you in planning and preparing for your vacation to Bald Head Island! A good resource to see upcoming events and plan some outdoor adventure activities once you get there is Bald Head Island’s site.
And now, here are some pictures of the beautiful wedding I attended! They’re just too pretty not too share. Bald Head was such a gorgeous setting for a destination wedding. The ceremony was held outside on the grounds of Old Baldy Lighthouse, and the reception was at the Bald Head Island Club. Enjoy and let me know if you are planning a trip to Bald Head!