Ocean Isle Beach 2023

This post is long overdue, but at the beginning of August, my family took our annual trip to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina — and I couldn’t let it pass by without sharing a quick recap of our trip and some of my favorite snaps from our week in paradise. (You can also read about past trips we’ve taken, too: 2022, 2021, 2020.)

We have been going to OIB for over a decade now, and if you’re looking for a beautiful, family-friendly, quiet beach town in North Carolina, look no further. Unlike other beaches, the island isn’t overly commercialized — there are just a handful of restaurants and shops — or crowded — because other than one high-rise at the end of the beach, it’s all houses and low-profile condo buildings. Additionally, the beach itself is so beautiful and clean, with warm waters in the summer perfect for swimming. The second we cross over the bridge every year — with Jimmy Buffett playing and the windows open to enjoy the salt air — my body instantly relaxes.

The last few years, we’ve stayed in different condos throughout the Starboard condo community on the island, but this year, we rented the cutest house called Isle Be Dockside. It was located just a few blocks off the beach, right on one of Ocean Isle Beach’s many canals. It was so nice to be on the water — many mornings, we’d enjoy our coffee and breakfast on the swing in the backyard, and the dock was the perfect place for a happy hour. My sisters and I also went night swimming in the canal, something I haven’t done in years, and it made me feel like a kid again.

We ate at a lot of our tried-and-true Ocean Isle Beach favorite restaurants this trip, including Sharky’s, Ocean Isle Fish Company, and Inlet View in nearby Shallotte — the latter of which has my favorite orange crushes in the world. We also tried some new-to-me places, including Hurricane Juel’s in Little River, just over the border into South Carolina, and Oyster Rock in Calabash, North Carolina, about 30 minutes south of Ocean Isle Beach. Hurricane Juel’s was a highlight of the trip for me — my mom and her family went there on the last night of their annual beach trips, and it was so cool to see a place that was so special to them. It felt like a living piece of family history! They also had some of the best clam chowder I have ever had. Oyster Rock was also a highlight — it was a very “Katie” spot, located right on the water with delicious food and a great ambience. It felt upscale and coastal, instead of kitschy like some beach restaurants — and don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a time and place for the latter!

Other than that, our trip was very uneventful in the best way. After enjoying breakfast at home, we’d head off to the beach for the day, with a cooler stocked and sandwiches in tow, and head back to the house in the 4 o’clock hour for the day. I did take one day off the beach to treat myself to lunch at Beaches Burgers, do some shopping, and get some soft serve ice cream at the pier. We also played many rounds of our favorite card game, golf, and listened to a lot of Jimmy Buffet. It was another wonderful week by the Carolina Shore, and I’m already excited for next summer.

Below are more of my favorite pictures from our vacation — until next time, OIB!

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