I’m so excited about today’s post as Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina is one of my favorite vacation spots in the US—and it’s one I feel like not as many people know about! Growing up, my family spent a week at the beach every summer and it was always my favorite week of the year. We went to North Myrtle Beach—bouncing around between Cherry Grove, Windy Hill, and Ocean Drive if you’re familiar—up through the time I was in high school, and then it really just started growing out of control. It became so commercialized and so crowded that we really wanted to find a smaller, quieter beach town to set up camp at for our annual seaside respite. Enter: Ocean Isle Beach, my family’s favorite coastal Carolina town!
Ocean Isle Beach is not in the Outer Banks, but in Brunswick County, the southern most county on North Carolina’s eastern seaboard that borders the line with South Carolina. It’s about an hour south of Wilmington and an hour north of Myrtle Beach. Brunswick County is also home to Oak Island, Calabash, Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Shallotte, Southport, and Bald Head Island—all of which are great places in their own right, and many of which my family has spent time exploring, too.
As many of you know, my trips to Las Vegas, France, and Italy were canceled as a result of COVID-19, so I found myself with a lot of extra vacation days for the year. Right before Memorial Day as things were beginning to open up, my sisters, my cousins, and I started brainstorming what type of vacation we might be able to safely go on this summer and quickly decided a road trip was most realistic. We all love the beach, and given it was very conducive to social distancing—we could cook most of our meals at home, eat on a patio outside with a lot of ocean airflow when we wanted to go out, and set up our umbrella at least six feet apart from others—we quickly decided a week at the beach was the perfect way to escape from the four walls we had been staring at for the past three months. I hadn’t spent a week at the beach in five years, and I forgot just how wonderful it is—unlike a sightseeing trip you’re not go, go, go, and I am convinced that a cold drink just tastes better on the beach. It was such a relaxing trip and just reminded me of simpler times.
I know taking a trip right now is not for everyone—and I totally respect that! A lot of people have asked me if people were taking socially distancing seriously when we were there, and I would candidly say not really. At the grocery store, gas stations, and restaurants, we were often the only patrons wearing masks, and at most of the restaurants we went to, the bartenders and servers weren’t wearing masks. (I do believe North Carolina has passed a mandatory mask rule since we were there the week of June 13, so hopefully things are better now!) On the beach, no one was wearing masks, but I wasn’t expecting that or concerned about it—Ocean Isle Beach is pretty quiet and family oriented. It was easy to set up camp for the day away from others, and in the ocean or walking on the beach, most people stayed at least six feet away. As such, if you’re still looking to go but want to be mindful of social distancing, I’d recommend planning to cook at home and just hanging out on the beach—I’d avoid the restaurants and shops! In terms of grocery stores went to the Publix just across the bridge, and all employees wore masks. It’s a huge store with one-way aisles, so even though they weren’t making all patrons wear masks (which they should!), you could at least spread out. We also brought quite a few groceries with us from home, so that’s another option if you want to avoid the store entirely.
So without further ado, let me show you around OIB!
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