I love beach vacations, but I also appreciate variety in my beaches, so we checked out a new place this year: Topsail Island.
How I love North Carolina beaches! The dunes. The lack of commercialism. The raw beauty of undeveloped land. Houses and condos face the ocean, not boardwalks or touristy shops.
Finding lodging for only three people is always a bit of a challenge. We don't need the space or expense of a large beach house. Condos that meet my requirements (right on the ocean with a good view and a swimming pool) aren't plentiful. But I found a fantastic two-bedroom condo on the top floor of the St. Regis complex on the north end of the island. It was perfect--nicer than where we stayed last summer in Duck, and cheaper!
Others warned me that Topsail Island, especially the northern part where we stayed, is very, very remote. And they weren't kidding! No grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurants were anywhere near us. The St. Regis had a bar that served typical bar food and pizza, which we enjoyed on the night we arrived and the night before we departed. Thankfully, we had the best weather we've ever had on any beach trip and had little desire to leave the ocean and pool. We cooked dinners on the charcoal grills that were provided on three nights, and drove about twenty minutes to Surf City three times (once for lunch and twice for dinner) to eat at some of the island's most notorious restaurants: Daddy Mac's, The Bistro at Just Baked, and Island Delights. The latter was a 1950s diner with old school rides for $.25, like the boat below.
We left our house at 5 AM and made the drive in 6.5 hours.
I hate that Mason's growing up so fast, but it was SO HELPFUL that he could walk himself to the beach this year! And he climbed every step and made each trek himself--I don't think we carried him once. (How could we? Our arms were full of beach stuff! How did we ever get to the beach last year with a baby in our arms?!)
We missed the quaintness of Duck, and especially Duck Donuts, but overall Topsail Island was a hit and we would definitely recommend it.