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Your guide to Surf City
All About Surf City
This quiet coastal town located on Topsail Island — a 26-mile barrier island off the coast of North Carolina — combines peaceful beaches with consistently good conditions for surfing. According to local legend, pirate ships used to be a common sight here. Until World War II, Topsail Island was only accessible by boat, but there are now two bridges that connect it to the mainland. Surf City is a small, walkable section in the middle of the island with a laid-back vibe and a smattering of casual restaurants and independent shops, and a turtle rehab and rescue center.
Head to Surfside Beach at sunrise for a glimpse of surfers riding the waves, and if you’re traveling with your pooch, the nearby town of North Topsail Beach offers a number of dog-friendly beaches. The third town on the island, Topsail Beach, on the south end of the island, is even smaller and quieter, with fewer than 500 year-round residents and a skyline free of high-rise buildings.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Surf City?
The best times of year to book rentals in Surf City is from mid-April to early June and mid-September to late October, when temperatures tend to be mild. October’s OceanFest is Surf City’s biggest event, a beachside live music, arts, surf, and eco festival to benefit the ocean. The month also sees the town’s lively Octoberfest and a fun run. Summer brings live music, a shrimp festival, and movies in the park — but bear in mind that the higher temperatures can be challenging for the uninitiated.
What are the top things to do in Surf City?
Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
Locals have worked tirelessly since 1996 to achieve their dream of protecting sea turtles on Topsail Island. The center cares for sick and injured sea turtles, returning them to the wild if they are able. Tours and educational programs run over the summer months to raise money for this non-profit’s conservation operation.
Surf City Ocean Pier
Built in 1948, the Surf City Pier was Topsail Island’s first ocean pier. After being destroyed by Hurricane Fran in 1996, it reopened the next year with improvements for local fishermen including fish cleaning stations, lighting for night fishing, and a tackle shop. There’s also a grill and outside dining area for laid-back dinners with a perfect view of the ocean.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
Sandwiched between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, Fort Fisher is a scenic hour’s drive south of Surf City. As a protected shoreline, developments here are limited to a visitor center, boardwalk, and other essential facilities. Sweeping sands for peaceful strolls sit alongside hiking trails and marshes for birdwatching and spotting sea turtles.