Sunset Beach Map
Only three miles long, Sunset Beach is the southernmost of the three barrier islands known as the South Brunswick Islands. However, the Town of Sunset Beach is comprised of several square miles of mainland as well. A new high-rise bridge has replaced the iconic swing bridge that has connected mainland and island for decades. In spite of its size this island has a current year-round population of more than 2,000 residents.
Sunset Beach NC is a great choice for a vacation. A visitor looking for a quiet coastal place to relax will do very well to book a house on this beach (look under Vacation Rentals on this site). The island of Sunset Beach features a white sandy beach with undisturbed sand dunes, a natural habitat and a nesting ground for coastal wildlife of all kinds, including the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. There is a full-service fishing pier on this island, and both island the mainland areas of the town offer shopping centers, grocery stores, small boutiques, dining, golf and the Ingram Planetarium (look under Attractions on this site).
Sunset Beach also offers a unique opportunity… a walk to Bird Island. Bird Island was once a separate island accessible only by walking through shallow Mad Inlet at low tide. Today it is connected to Sunset Beach as the inlet has filled in with sand. Bird Island is completely untouched by development as its nearly 1,300 acres of beach, marsh and wetlands were dedicated as a North Carolina Coastal Reserve in 2002 following 10 years of work by the Bird Island Preservation Society to protect it. This designation protects habitat used by several threatened or endangered species, including Kemp’s Ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, sea beach amaranth, piping plover, wood stork and black skimmer. Early morning bird walks are conducted during the summer months by persons working with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.
Also, informal guided tours (announced by posters attached to street markers on the beach) are given by locals who are happy to share their knowledge of Bird island. The purely natural environment is comforting, a place where people of the twenty-first century can experience life as it was back in the days prior to the development of the land.
Another unique feature to be found on Bird Island is a “kindred spirits” mailbox where visitors can leave inspirational messages for others to read and contemplate.