Topsail Island is a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. It is located south of Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune. The island lies between the beaches of the Cape Fear region and the barrier islands of the crystal coast. A series of small sounds and channels separate the island from the mainland. These make up a part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Top Sails North Carolina includes the communities of Topsail Beach, Surf City, and North Topsail Beach. There are thick maritime forests, sea turtles, and beautiful beaches. Topsail Island is to the north of Onslow County and south of Pender County. You can only get on and off the island in two ways. These are:
Topsail Island was only accessible by boat before World War II. The community would make the short trip to have picnics on the beaches. It's been widely reported, that at low tides. The local farmers would lead their livestock across the water. So the livestock could feed on the beach grass.
In the early 20th century, some structures were constructed along the sound. They are used by people on fishing trips and summer vacations.
When World War II began, the US Army constructed Camp Davis. This was a large temporary anti-aircraft training base. It was located at Holly Ridge. The Army then took possession of the island. They built a road to connect Camp Davis and the sound. They also installed a pontoon bridge to run across the Intracoastal Waterway. Later, in the 1950s, a swing bridge was built in its place. In 2018, a fixed-span high-rise bridge replaced the swing bridge. The Army also put up training facilities and support buildings in the area. This became what is now known as the Surf City business district.
After the war, the US Navy took possession of the island. Together with Johns Hopkins University, they started a joint project called Operation Bumblebee. It was an early guided missile development program. There were more than 200 missiles that were test-fired during the course of the project.
Today, you can find the missile assembly building on the sound at Channel Blvd and Flake Avenue. It is in the Topsail Beach business district. The building is currently being used as a meeting center and museum. The launchpad was converted into a patio by the Jolly Roger Motel. You can still find a number of missile tracking towers along the island.
The Navy finished testing in 1948 and returned Topsail Island to its original owners. A beach resort was constructed in the 1950s. A lot of the infrastructure was left intact, including the roads, bridges and other developments. A brick model home was built by a developer in 1952. However, in 1954, Topsail Island was hit by Hurricane Hazel. The island was completely flooded and a lot of the structures were washed away. The model home suffered minor damage and still stands. You can find it at the corner of Scott Avenue and Anderson boulevard.
Soundside Park is close to the Surf City Bridge. The bridge is one way to get to the island. The other way is by going through North Topsail by taking Island Drive. Soundside Park has a great playground, a nice walking path, and picnic shelters. It is a great location to have a birthday party or family get-together.
Another great site to visit in Surf City is the Surf City Ocean Pier. It was built in 1948 and is the island’s first fishing pier. You can enjoy a spectacular view of the beach. There are several local restaurants in the region in case you get hungry.
Jolly Roger Pier
You can find the pier at Topsail Beach. It is great for casting a rail and catching beautiful views of the water. Sea turtles and dolphins can be seen from the end of the pier.
If you want to go fishing, it will cost you. Fishing tickets cost $16 per day. If you only want to walk the pier, it will cost you only $2.
Serenity Point is located to the south of Topsail Island. The area is undeveloped and provides the perfect location for beach-goers. You will find limited free parking and a lot of privacy at Serenity Point. It is definitely worth the visit.
The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
Visiting the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is very informative. This is definitely one of the must-see locations of Top Sails North Carolina. The turtles are a lovely sight, no matter the cycle they are in. The center rehabilitates turtles and provides limited hours to receive visitors. You need to make a reservation before visiting to see the turtles.
The center makes use of volunteers to rehabilitate the turtles. Volunteers rescue and care for the sea turtles. They also help to educate the local community and visitors to the center. It is a great educational resource of Top Sails North Carolina.
The best time to visit is between June and December. Visitors are educated and allowed to ask questions. You can also see the turtles that are at the center during your visit.