Living in North Carolina my entire life, I am not sure how I spent a lifetime, no more than 2 hours away from Bald Head Island and never managed to discover this amazing treasure. It is truly one of North Carolina's best kept secrets. It has a look about it that makes you feel you are on an exotic island in the Caribbean....or maybe even The Hamptons, but with charm and beauty that only the south can provide. Well, let's face it - I am biased to southern hospitality. I have always had a love affair with the coast of North Carolina, but this little gem has deepened that love just a little more.
Growing up in North Carolina, I have heard whispers of Bald Head Island.....of how there are no cars on the island and how you must take golf carts and bikes to get around. I always thought this sounded kind of intriguing, but again these were only whispers. I always thought of Bald Head Island as a private island, only to be discovered by invitation. While this concept is absurd, this is not a place that boasts about itself or markets tourists by the masses. Once you see the beauty for yourself you will understand why.
I was on an day adventure in Southport, NC (which is an amazing story all on its own) and I decided to see what all the fuss was about in Bald Head Island. I tossed Shadow (my beloved brindle pug) in the car and set off only two miles to the Deep Point Marina. As I pulled up at the Marina, the feel was immediately different - like I had just landed in another place - like I was already on "island time". Travelers unloading luggage, bikes, and beach chairs.....almost every family with their dog in tow. As I stood on the deck waiting to board the ferry, families were all talking to each other - talking to other families. Kids were meeting other kids, asking each other where they were from, how long they were going to stay, as they planned meeting on the beach once they arrived. So many people came over to pet Shadow, ask about him, where we were from and went on to share a little about themselves as well. I felt like I had stepped back in time...before cell phones and wifi....when vacations were a time to bond with family and make new friends!! As I boarded the ferry, I was even more anxious to see what was in store for me at Bald Head Island!
Once on the ferry, everyone was still chatting and enjoying great company - other than a few teenagers, I didn't really see anyone with their phones. The family next to me and I talked - they were from the triangle area near Raleigh - about 2 hours from my home in New Bern. We learned that our sons had played lacrosse against each other this past school year. There must have been a hundred people on the ferry and at least 30 dogs, and for that 20 minutes across the Cape Fear River it was perfect harmony.....I felt like I was in the middle of a novel and the adventure was about to unfold.
As we approached the island, the main thing I noticed is how preserved everything seemed! The gorgeous beach homes all appeared to be strategically placed within the trees and the shoreline. It was almost as though they had been there all along, as part of nature. You could see families and friends sitting out on their decks, having drinks by the water, riding bikes, and enjoying the beauty surrounding them.
Once we docked and disembarked the ferry, lines of golf carts waited with drivers to load up luggage and families and take them to their homes. If you are just visiting for the day, or want a cart to keep for your stay – there are cart rentals available hourly or weekly. So, Shadow and I hopped on a cart and set off to explore.
The first thing I noticed, were the beautiful tree-lined paths, each taking you to another part of the island.