Travel Destinations

Bald Head Island & Southport

Bald Head Island | Dori Arrington

"Lush” is a word more often used to describe the tropics than U.S. destinations. But lush is precisely what Bald Head Island (BHI) is — a six-square-mile patch of jungle-like paradise off the North Carolina coast where development hasn’t been allowed to destroy the wild, verdant landscape.

Home to about 250 permanent residents and 1,100 dwellings tucked into Lowcountry landscape, BHI is a barrier island two miles offshore from the popular coastal town of Southport. This sandy slice of Shangri-La is only accessible by ferry or private vessel. Cars aren’t allowed on the island; golf carts and bicycles are the sole means of transportation.

Bald Head Island Conservancy is the driving force behind keeping the island in tune with nature, sponsoring scientific research, outreach programs and a sea turtle protection project.

Visitors find two inns on BHI —Marsh Harbour Inn and The Inn at Bald Head Island — and seasonal properties for rent. The island’s 14 miles of pristine beaches and acres of marshes are the main attraction, particularly East Beach. A handful of eateries are near the BHI Marina and in the center of the island, as well as a grocery store and shops.

For a less remote excursion, try Southport on the mainland, with its quaint main street lined with restaurants, antique shops and outfitter outlets. The town’s 300-year history is dotted with Spanish explorers, English settlers, pirates, privateers, Victorian-era seaside revelers, destructive hurricanes and other colorful and harrowing invaders.

Speaking of invaders, Southport’s annual 4th of July Festival attracts 40,000 and 50,000 people each year, and weekend crowds swell the town’s population dramatically. Fortunately, Southport’s residents, retailers and restauranteurs are well prepared for the onslaught, and there’s plenty of beach culture and cuisine to go around.

For a night or two on land, consider La Polena, an upscale B&B run by a gourmet chef, or the River Hotel of Southport, down the road from Deep Point Marina and the BHI ferry terminal.


Bald Head Island Marina


The marina’s protected, 10-acre harbor offers a full complement of amenities: slips from 30 to 94 feet with 8-foot draft at MLW, a new bathhouse, lighted entrance channel, 30/50/100-amp electric hookups, fuel, cable TV access, convenience store, gift shops, restaurants and inns.

Deep Point Marina


Located along the Cape Fear River in Southport, this 82-slip marina provides comfortable dockage for large and small vessels, along with easy ocean, ICW and river access.

Morningstar Marinas Southport


Ideally situated on the ICW at the Cape Fear River, you find dockage for vessels up to 130 feet, a 330-foot fuel dock, pump out, ship store, Wi-Fi, a full-service mechanic on site.

Safe Harbor South Harbour Village


Located on the ICW midway between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, the marina offers a spacious fuel/transient dock with 12+ feet of water depth to accommodate vessels up to 200 feet.

St. James Marina


Just five miles from the ocean on the ICW, SJM is a convenient, secure harbor for cruisers and an excellent homeport for residents, with 155 wet slips and dry stack storage for 320 boats.


Restaurants in Southport | Credit Dori Arrington

Blue Cow Grille


If you’re craving burgers and tacos, this is where you want to be. The menu also boasts a generous offering of salads, sandwiches, sides and mouthwatering appetizers.

Edgewater 122


This new face on the Southport restaurant scene presents a menu featuring unique dishes such as blue crab arancini, maple mustard chicken and blackened cauliflower steak, plus traditional surf and turf options.

Jailhouse Provisions


On Bald Head Island, Jailhouse Provisions serves bountiful beach cuisine like lobster roll, shrimp, flounder, oysters and crab cakes, along with a raft of sides and salads.

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