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Your guide to Bald Head Island
All About Bald Head Island
Located off the southeastern tip of North Carolina among the headlands and inlets that comprise Cape Fear, tiny Bald Head Island is a family-friendly, pet-friendly destination lined with 14 miles of pristine beaches, and virtually no cars to speak of. It’s no wonder that BHI, as locals call it, is rich in wildlife: only 2,000 acres (approximately 3.125 square miles) of the island have been developed, leaving the remaining 10,000 acres (more than 15.5 square miles) to nature. Between a dense maritime forest, freshwater lagoons, and the salt marsh, the island is home to more than 200 species of birds, among other wild animals—especially turtles. Every summer, hundreds of sea turtles return to the island to nest, providing visitors the chance to sign up for hatchling guard shifts with the island’s nature conservancy.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Bald Head Island
Given its position on Cape Fear, Bald Head Island faces south, influenced more by the mild, warm waters of the nearby Gulf Stream than the chilly Atlantic Ocean. As a result, it enjoys a humid subtropical climate, with temperatures peaking in the high 80s Fahrenheit in the summer months. Thanks to its warmth and humidity, BHI boasts naturally growing palm trees. Winters on the island are much cooler than any other season, but can still be quite mild: temperatures rarely drop below freezing.
Top things to do in Bald Head Island
Maritime Forest Preserve
Exploring the 191-acre section of land officially known as Bald Head Woods feels like stepping back in time, and into a jungle. Though it’s right on the ocean, the area is rich with live oaks and laurel oaks, cedars, and laurels, which block the ocean salt spray, allowing other typically forest-bound plants to thrive.
It’s no coincidence that Bald Head Island’s preferred method of transportation is via golf cart. The local golf course is recognized as one of the best in the nation, beautifully winding through the island’s topography and concluding with picture-perfect views of the ocean.
The island’s retired lighthouse, Old Baldy, is North Carolina’s oldest, built in 1817 — the same year the village was established. Climb 108 stairs and five landings to reach the top, where you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Cape Fear River estuary. You can learn about the lighthouse’s 200-year legacy at the Smith Island Museum of History, located in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage.