10 Jul Bald Head Island, NC
I’m excited to start a whole new side of this blog that focuses on something that I believe can be the missing link that fixes lots of problems–Travel. I’m going to be blogging my travel reviews under the Heart Warming section of the blog because, to me, traveling has been a huge way for me to discover things about myself that I never knew. Heart Warming focuses on growing relationally and spiritually. For me, going out into the world encompasses all that and more.
I love to travel. I am lucky enough that I get to travel frequently with my family. Every summer, my mom, dad, sisters, brother, husband and I pack up and go somewhere new. It’s such a blessing to be able to see the world with those you love! We’re a huge family and so it’s also hilarious seeing what craziness we get ourselves into. We just spent a week on Bald Head Island off the coast of North Carolina. This trip was unique for us in that it was a family reunion of sorts. My dad’s family lives all along the East Coast, with a good number of them calling Charlotte, NC home. With the birth of the first great-grandchild in the family and the impending 90th birthdays of my grandparents, we decided to take the opportunity to visit them and celebrate family.
Bald Head Island.
We wanted to go somewhere where we could escape, focus on family and visit the beach. This was baby boy’s first trip to the beach and we wanted it to be special! Someone recommended Bald Head and we decided to give it a try. We reserved a home right on the South Beach, which was PERFECTLY named ‘Gone to Carolina’. The 5 bedroom/ 4.5 bathroom home sleeps 12 PEOPLE… that’s exactly what we needed, considering the size of our family. Renting on Bald Head Island is easy to do through the island’s website: www.baldheadisland.com. The home provided everything we would need for our stay, from a high chair for baby B to two golf carts [there are no cars on the island, so the only way to get around is on golf carts, it’s actually amazing!] When we made our reservation, they set us up with temporary memberships to the country club and gold club, as well as the Shoals Club, a private venue with a restaurant, fitness room and pool right on the beach. We tried to go over to the pools at both places n our first day there, but they were overly crowded with families and the water in both pools was GREEN. I’m talking murky and green. They were having a heat wave when we were there, so I figured that all the families on the island flocked to the pool and the water was sunscreen central. We opted for the beach the whole time, and loved EVERY SECOND we were out there. It was perfect.
We flew into Charlotte and stayed a night there at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge. We visited our cousins at their home and ate North Carolina BBQ, which is VERY different than Texas BBQ. I really enjoyed it all [except for the hush puppies–darn you, gluten!] Did you know they eat BOILED PEANUTS?! What tha?!?!?
The next morning, we drove out to Southport [This is where it gets funny]! My grandfather is a Baptist Minister and is very conservative. With a party this big, my father decided it would be best the hire a driver of a mini bus to take us from Charlotte to Southport [3.5 hours]. When the bus pulled up and we loaded in, we saw that my dad had unknowingly reserved a party bus, complete with a pole and all!! We rode to Southport in STYLE, with the cool, multi-colored lights and all! It made for a fun memory with our family, including our grandparents!
Most people fly into Wilmington, which is only a 20 minute drive to the ferry terminal in Southport, but since we were picking up our grandparents in Charlotte, we just drove from there. I definitely recommend flying into Wilmington, though. Once we were in Southport, we boarded the 30 minute ferry to Bald Head. The rental company had set up a tram for us once we arrived, so when we got off the boat, someone helped us load our stuff onto the tram and then drove us straight to the house! The home was beautiful and the views were breathtaking. There are no words to describe how I’d just relax by looking at the sand dunes and the beach! The streets had a canopy of trees around them and made you feel like you were truly away from reality!
The island has a harbor where a ferry arrives hourly to take people to and from the mainland, shops and fun restaurants. Farther inland, there’s a shopping center with a supermarket that provides all groceries you may need, catering and a great coffee/breakfast shop. At this shopping center, you can rent beach equipment, bikes and more. If you want it, they’ve got it. F and I spent an afternoon shopping at all the boutiques over there. We found some great things! it was totally up our alley! The island also features a couple great learning opportunities for children and adults alike. Visitors can climb Old Baldy–one of the oldest lighthouses in North Carolina. Not up for climbing? They have a museum too! The island is also a favorite place for sea turtles to lay their eggs and is home to an amazing conservation campus that does incredible work. Throughout the summer, they host several 5K’s. Visitors can participate in The Turtle Trot to help raise money for their conservation efforts. My dad and I ran it together… be warned. A mile of it is in the sand. I was not prepared. haha!
What does the island have to offer for the active visitors? Everything outdoors from great streets to run and bike on [No cars, only golf carts, remember? So it’s pretty safe. You only need to watch out for alligators!] to surfing, golf, tennis, croquet, stand up paddle boarding and more! The Shoals Club has a [TINY] workout facility and the country club has a larger one, but you’ll want to be outside while you’re there!
The beach was absolutely breathtaking! We rented umbrellas and beach chairs and spent our days out in the sand. My 90 year old grandparents even joined us because under the umbrella, with the ocean breeze, it was much cooler! Baby B loved the water! The waves weren’t huge, loud and scary so he loved splashing when the waves would come up. During low tide, the beach created little pools of water that were shallow enough for swimming without the currents and the waves so there were a lot of children playing over there. It was wonderful!
Most nights, we cooked at the house. The rental company brought us a grill and we made steaks, burgers, you name it! We were all so tired from the sun and the sand, we never felt like getting dressed and going to dinner somewhere. We did order in from The Shoals Club one night and from Mojo’s another. I ordered the ahi tuna from the Shoals Club. It was paired with a seaweed salad and was so very good! I tried out Mojo’s new sushi with a rainbow roll and a spicy tuna roll. It was good, but I recommend ordering something else off the menu. Everyone else seemed to like their dishes more than I liked mine. We also had the Maritime Market make us a dinner. They had an amazing rotisserie chicken, shrimp and grits, green beans and lobster mac ‘n cheese ready for us to pick up, heat up and eat one night. OH. MY. GOSH. Was it good.
Every morning, we would ride over to the Maritime Market to get an almond milk latte and breakfast. They always had a fresh breakfast ready for us to order. My grandmother would get pancakes, my brother loved the biscuits and gravy, my sisters would get the biscuit sandwiches and my mom loved their grits. This gluten free girl would order a side of scrambled eggs and sausage. Once I got home, I would place them on the GF bagels I picked up in Charlotte and put them together for an indulgent and filling breakfast!
On our last day there, we had a family portrait session on the beach with Anne Liles. Here are some of my favorite shots! She’s absolutely darling and obviously very talented!
If you’re ever in North Carolina and want to escape from reality and enjoy the sun and the sand, book a trip to Bald Head Island… you won’t regret it or forget it! I’m so glad we visited and F and I can’t wait to go back!