One of the highlights of my year so far has been visiting Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina for a week this summer with my sisters and cousin. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to write a post about our trip—given we pretty much do the same things whenever we visit OIB— but one of the great things about having TOT is that has been such great way to save memories and photographs to look at them later.
As such, I’m going to share a recap of our week spent on the Carolina shore. But, I’m going to make it less of a travel guide and more just a recap + photo essay of what we did this particular trip—so if you’re looking for a post that makes specific recommendations for how to get to OIB, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do, check out my comprehensive Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina travel guide. There are also some great tips over there in the comments from readers!
Growing up, my family’s big vacation every year was a week at the beach. It was something I looked forward to all year around, and absolutely savored every moment of when we were on vacation. We were pretty good at keeping this tradition alive until 2015 or so, when life just got more complicated with work and college schedules. Then, last year during the pandemic, my sisters and my cousins decided to book a beach condo for a week last minute—and that vacation was such a bright spot in a very dark year. That trip also reminded me how restorative and fun a week at the beach is; compared to other trips where I feel like I need to be on the go to see all the sights and do all the things, a week at the beach allows you to slow down, enjoy some cold beverages, and not stick to any particular schedule. As Zac Brown Band once said, the only worry is if the tide is going to reach your chair.
We knew we wanted to make another beach trip happen this summer, so one lunch break in April when I desperately needed something to look forward to, my sister, Jennifer, and I had found and booked our beach condo for this year within an hour. We headed down to OIB the last week of June, and were blessed with amazing weather and an amazing time! My sister Lindsey’s friend Mary Kate joined us for part of the trip, and our cousin Mikie flew in from Arizona—we hadn’t seen him in over two years, so it was an awesome reunion.
So without further ado, some of the highlights from our week spent at Ocean Isle Beach this year!
SHARKY’S HAPPY HOUR
Last year, we inadvertently started a little tradition—whenever we arrive to town, our first stop over the bridge is always Sharky’s for happy hour while we wait for our condo to be ready! To beat the traffic, we get up bright and early, and so we usually arrive for happy hour right around 3pm and post up for a couple of hours. The second you step out of the car and smell the saltwater air is just the best!
ORANGE CRUSHES AT INLET VIEW BAR & GRILL
One of our favorite restaurants to visit when at OIB is Inlet View. We love it so much that we purposefully scheduled our week so that we could eat there twice—that’s how dedicated we are. (Okay, the real reason we wanted to visit twice was because we wanted the opportunity to drink the most amazing fresh Orange Crushes twice! If you’ve never had one, they are fresh squeezed orange juice, orange vodka, and triple sec, topped with Sprite—they go down real easy!)
Inlet View does not take reservations, but we honestly think the wait is half the fun. They’ve got ample picnic tables and places to stand right on the water, as well as an oversized beach chair that’s great for photos. This year, when we arrived for dinner on Saturday night, it was packed and there was a long line for the outside bar. So we divided and conquered and went to different bars—there’s another one on the third floor—and ended up with six Orange Crushes instead of three. Not a bad problem to have!
This year, we stayed at Starboard by the Sea again, but in a different unit. (Our unit has since been sold and isn’t available for rent, otherwise I’d link it here!) We love this complex as it’s just a block off the beach and very affordable—the units are clean, but no frills, and it’s nice to have a kitchen to cook in throughout the week. We paid about $1500 for the week in late June, which I think is a great deal. This year, our unit was on the second floor—vs. the third floor last year—and we liked staying on the second floor better. For one, it’s one less set of stairs to climb when packing + unpacking, bringing groceries in, and coming off the beach. But another reason we liked the second floor better was that it meant the front door to our condo was covered by the deck above, making it more shielded from the elements and the sun, so we ended up using it more.
We spent most of our days on the beach all day—we’d pack a lunch and plenty of drinks and head down to the beach by late morning and stay until late afternoon. Other than a couple of passing storms and a big thunderstorm on our last day, we had a great week of weather; it was sunny and warm, and the waves were great for swimming!
A TRIP TO CALABASH FOR BOUNDARY HOUSE
Growing up, we most oftentimes went to North Myrtle Beach, and even then, we’d make the trip to Calabash, North Carolina to eat at Boundary House. It’s about a 30 minute drive from OIB, but so worth it! If you go, you have to get their croissants as they are to die for. They also have amazing salads, which also come with a croissant—but we went big and ordered a basket for the table, too.
We got to Calabash early so that we could spend some time shopping around in Callahan’s. It’s a huge gift shop that has your classic beach souvenirs and decor, but it also has a wide variety of other gifts and a huge selection of Christmas ornaments and decor. I bought a beautiful conch shell as decor for my apartment this year.
LUNCH AT BEACHES BURGERS + AN AFTERNOON MARG
After I published my travel guide about OIB, someone commented and said I needed to check out Beaches Burgers the next time I was in town. It’s no secret that I love burgers, so I knew this was a priority of mine for this trip to OIB. One morning, Mikie and I needed a break from the beach and we needed to do a grocery store run, so we went over to Beaches Burgers for lunch. It was a no-frills diner, but the food was so good. Our burgers were made to order and were melt-in-your-mouth good.
After our burgers, we went over to Ocean Isle Fish Company for an early afternoon margarita on their rooftop because #vacation. It was really fun to watch all the boats come in and out of the waterway below.
A BOOZE CRUISE TO SHARKY’S
While Mikie and I were at Ocean Isle Fish Company, we decided that we should ride our bikes to Sharky’s for a happy hour after we got off the beach that day. Our condo is only about a mile or so from Sharky’s, so it was a quick ride—and such a fun way to “commute” to the bar. We called it a booze cruise and it was such a highlight. After a couple of rounds at Sharky’s—and a trip to the gift shop to get some Sharky’s t-shirts—we rode our bikes back home.
A HAPPY HOUR + NIGHT CAP AT OIFC
On Thursday night of our trip, we met my old coworker at her boyfriend at Ocean Isle Fish Company for a happy hour on their roof and it was so much fun. The views from their perch at golden hour are unbeatable! Our group went over to Sharky’s for dinner, but we were having so much fun at Ocean Isle Fish Company that we went back for a night cap.
ONE LAST NIGHT IN OIB—COMPLETE WITH ORANGE CRUSHES
We ended our trip to the beach where we started it—at Inlet View drinking Orange Crushes. This was Mikie’s first trip to one of our favorite places, and we were glad to show it to him! A big storm had rolled in earlier in the day, so it was a bit overcast when we arrived but then we were treated to a beautiful ‘red sky at night.’
We had such a great week at OIB this year, and I am already counting down until our trip next year. As a reminder, all my recommendations for how to get to OIB, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do are in my comprehensive Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina travel guide. There are also some great tips in the comments from readers!
Don’t hesitate to comment below with any questions, or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.