Sunset Beach, NC gets its name from the unique southern facing beach. The sun rises on one end of the island and sets on the other. Only 2 miles long and with no structures over 2 stories, Sunset Beach has the feel of a private island. The majority of visitors have been coming for many years and will continue to do so most staying in the same vacation rentals year after year. There are approximately 1200 houses on the island and a year round residency of about 100 people. The total population of Sunset Beach was 3,546 as of 2013. Recently, the town of Sunset Beach approved parking along the street paralleling the ocean. This has increased the number of people on the beach and by the pier it is very crowded.
Like any beach destination the “in-season” is the summer months but the temperate climate of this area makes the spring and fall an excellent time to come and enjoy the beach. Take your shoes off and get your toes in the powder white unique sand. Sunset Beach was first developed in the late 50’s when the first and only bridge was built but was largely overlooked for decades because of its established neighboring island, Ocean Isle. The bridge was a single lane swing bridge that opened every hour on the hour for boat traffic until 2010, when a larger bridge was opened. It was the last bridge of its kind along the Intracoastal waterway. The swing bridge has been preserved by the local Historical Society which has plans for a museum.
Sunset Beach NC has some shopping and a convenient store but you’ll have to go off the island to find a grocery store or restaurants. This minor inconvenience is overlooked by visitors as the lack of such commerce is what provides the island with laid back charm. Once off the island one can find the usual comforts of home from large chain drug stores to international cuisine. Fresh seafood can be found at restaurants like Crabby Oddwaters, a Sunset Beach staple for many years. A short drive to Calabash opens up even more restaurant options.
Your best source for fishing can be found at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Located next door on Ocean Isle Beach NC just across the bridge you will find the latest fishing reports, bait and tackle, and charter fishing excursions. They offer inshore trips for sea trout and redfish and offshore day trips for larger game fish such as shark, mackerel, snapper, grouper, tuna and sailfish to name a few. Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach have piers for those that want to stay on land and of course surf fishing is popular as well. Bait can be purchased at the fishing center or the piers as well as other local establishments. There are also charters out of Calabash. You can find deep sea fishing to party boats that bottom fish in sight of land.
One thing Sunset Beach offers in abundance is professional golf courses. Many people combine a golfing vacation with a stay on the beach. Brunswick County alone has 30 highly ranked golf courses and if you are willing to drive 45 minutes to the north and south your options increase to 100 courses. Whether you come to golf or to do absolutely nothing, Sunset Beach NC is a hidden gem providing a private island feel, uncluttered commerce, and fine sand between your toes.