Located off the coast of North Carolina two nautical miles from Southport, North Carolina, Bald Head Island is home to Old Baldy Lighthouse, numerous restaurants, a private golf course, and pristine beaches. This nature loving island is home of the state’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy. The quaint village offers shopping, art, market and restaurants.
Bald Island Club is a members-only club with a golf club, tennis, dining, aquatics and fitness.
Since 1983, the company, owned by the George P. Mitchell Family, has been entrusted with the stewardship and development of this remarkable place.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, when pirates ruled North Carolina’s coastal waters with greed and terror, Bald Head Island was a favorite hideaway for these notorious bandits. The most famous pirate to roam the waters was Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.
The peninsula was worn “bald” of vegetation, making it stand out in contrast to the forest behind it, serving as a reference point for ships entering the river. Thus, the name Bald Head Island evolved.
Bald Head Island features 1,120 private residences and is home to approximately 220 year- round residents. Until 1981, there was no electricity on Bald Head until. Before then, generators powered homes or evenings by candlelight.
The island is a 20 minute passenger ferry ride from Deep Point Marina, located before the state-operated Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Landing. It is a “first come first serve” basis and in summer months, reservations are strongly encouraged : (910) 457-5006 or visit the website. Eating, drinking and pets are not permitted inside the passenger cabin, only on the exterior areas of the ferries. Smoking and consumption of alcoholic beverages are not permitted anywhere aboard the ferry.
Bald Head Island is home to alligators, red and gray foxes, white-tailed deer(no hunting allowed) and more than 260 species of birds. Watchers flock here to see snowy egrets, brown pelicans and vibrantly colored painted buntings. Coyote sightings have increased over the last couple of years, to the point where they had begun eating eggs from sea turtle nests. There are roughly 12 species of snakes on Bald Head Island, none of which are venomous. You may often see requiem sharks off our shore, which are migratory, live-bearing sharks of warm seas, sometimes of brackish water like the Cape Fear River.
Pets on the beach must be leashed from sunset to sunrise during turtle season, May 1 through November 15. All other times, pets are permitted off leash but must remain under direct supervision at all times.
A getaway here isn’t complete without experiencing a Bald Head Island day trip! If you haven’t been to this NC barrier island before, it offers a slow-paced atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back through time to a different era.
With 14 miles of pristine beaches, you shouldn’t have a problem finding your perfect spot. South Beach features long stretches of sand and calmer waters, perfect for walking and spending the day.
Captain Charlie’s Station, a trio of lightkeepers’ cottages, were provided by the government for the keepers of the Cape Far Lighthouse and their families. Captain Charles Swan, the first keeper of the light, lived with his family and staff in these homes 1903 to 1933. The smallest building was used for storing food and supplies. These structures were abandoned following deactivation of the light in 1958 and were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Movies that were filmed on Bald Head Island over the years were:
- Weekend At Bernie’s starring Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Catherine Mary Stewart.(1989)
- The Butcher’s Wife starring Demi Moore, Jeff Daniels and Mary Steenburgen (1991)
- Sleeping With The Enemy starring Julie Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson.
Sailing, paddle boarding, hiking, beach exploration, biking, kayaking, kiteboarding, fishing – the outdoor activities are endless!
Hiking: Bald Head Woods Maritime Forest Preserve: several trailheads ranging from easy to moderate through the a canopy of trees.
- Bald Island Conservancy: offers organized nature walks, kayak and canoe tours for small groups. The Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the Loggerhead Turtle. The Turtle Walk Program lets you experience up close and learn the history of the Loggerhead Turtle. This program runs nightly from the 1st week of June thru 1st week of August. Mid-August thru late September 24 hour nest monitoring occurs seven days a week (often handled by volunteers) until the eggs hatch and the hundreds of turtles dig their way out. Learn the history of the loggerhead turtles, sponsor a nest. Loggerheads are the most abundant species of sea turtle found in U.S. coastal waters and they are found worldwide with nine distinct population segments listed under the Endangered Species Act. They nest primarily along the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina. Total estimated nesting in the United States is more than 100,000 nests per year. In the Pacific, nesting grounds are primarily Japan and Australia. They are named for their massive heads and strong jaws which they use to feed on hard-shelled prey.
- Sail Shop: offer surf, fishing, guided kayak and canoe tours. Bluff Island Hike
Fishing: Many choices of fishing: Creek fishing: flounder, red drum, blue fish, spots, grey and speckled trout. Shore Fishing: blue fish, flounder, red drum, pompano, mullet. Offshore Fishing: red drum, grouper, mackerel, bluefish and tuna fishing(see this link for outfitters for boats and gear). North Carolina fishing license is required to fish on your own for all persons over 16. Charter boats carry blanket licenses that allow you to fish from the boat. Licenses are available online at www.ncwildlife.org.
The quaint village also has some places that might be on your list. Hours of operation are seasonally and most open during March thru Fall.
Climb Old Baldy Lighthouse: North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse(207 years old) and the only remaining one of three lighthouses that were once on Bald Head Island offers incredible views of the marsh, harbor and ocean. Open seasonally -make sure to check their website for hours of operation.
Historical Tours: Old Baldy Foundation Tours 1.5-2 hrs long recap history back to the early 1500s when the island appeared on maps. 910-457-5003
Ghost Walk: 2 hour 350 years of history (including ghosts) by Riverside Adventure Tours.
After doing all that, grab a bite at Midway Coffee, Sandpiper Coffee, Delphina Cantina, Jailhouse Provisions, Jules Salty Grubb, Maritime Market or sample some wine or beer at Will o’ the Wisp or Bald Head Bottle Wine Shop and Bar. Various shops along Maritime Way in the village offer a mixture of island clothes, pet boutique, sweets shop, surf shops, and home furnishings.