Sunset Beach Fishing Pier : Things to Do in Sunset Beach NC

20+ Great Things to Do in Sunset Beach NC & Nearby

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Discover the charm of Sunset Beach, NC; here, you will find a peaceful retreat on the North Carolina coast. Famous for its stunning sunsets, this tranquil beach town offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

Stroll along the soft, sandy beaches and let the serene ocean views rejuvenate your spirit. The town’s heart beats with friendly local eateries, unique shops, and a vibrant community atmosphere.

Nature lovers will adore the Bird Island Reserve, a sanctuary of wildlife and natural beauty. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy world-class courses, each presenting a delightful challenge amidst picturesque settings. Whether you’re here to unwind or explore, Sunset Beach warmly welcomes you to a world where each visit is a unique, unforgettable experience.

Things to Do in Sunset Beach NC

It’s time to explore paradise and all the things available; let’s dive in.

1. Enjoy the Beach 

Address: 35 E Main St, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Sunset Beach caters to all kinds of beach-goers. Whether you’re looking to unwind on the shore, swim in the gentle waves, or embark on water adventures like surfing or paddleboarding, this beach has something for everyone.

Sunset Beach NC Beach View

However, it’s important to note that Sunset Beach does not have lifeguard services, so please prioritize safety while enjoying the water.

Boardwalk to Sunset Beach from Main Parking lot

The primary beach access is located at the Gazebo lot, where West Main Street and Sunset Boulevard South intersect. This spot offers just over 50 free parking spaces and includes bathroom facilities for your convenience. Right next to it, the Sunset Beach Fishing Pier provides additional parking options, available for $10 per day.

Sunset Beach NC Beach View from Drone

For those planning to use the free parking at the Gazebo lot, it’s advisable to arrive early in the day as these spaces can fill up quickly. Additional parking can be found along Sunset Boulevard. For visitors staying on the island, you’ll find several access points scattered around, although parking here is very LIMITED compared to the main beach access areas.

Aerial View of Sunset Beach Main Parking and Paid Parking at the pier
To the left is the paid parking at the pier, and to the right is the free paved parking.

2. Sunset Beach Fishing Pier 

Address: 101 W Main St, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

The Sunset Beach Fishing Pier is open seasonally for 2024; the opening date is set for March 2nd.  The pier extends 900 feet into the ocean, where you can enjoy a casual stroll or go fishing. Also, here’s a fun fact: It’s the southernmost pier in North Carolina.  If you are lucky, maybe you’ll spot some dolphins swimming by.

Sunset Beach Fishing Pier : Things to Do in Sunset Beach NC

The pier also has a store, billiards, a jukebox, and a bar and grill.  The pier is air-conditioned, and you can enjoy breakfast until 10:45 am or lunch from 11 am to 3 pm. Their nachos are available all day. They host various fishing contests throughout the year as well.  

As mentioned above, the parking is $10 for the day, but if you are fishing, your parking fees will be refunded with a fishing ticket, so it will be free parking.   This is a fantastic spot to come watch the sunrises and sunsets over the water.  If you want to check it out before you arrive, they also have a 24/7 live pier cam so you can check the conditions.  

Aerial View of Sunset Beach Fishing Pier

3. Visit Bird Island & Kindred Spirits Mailbox 

Bird Island, adjacent to Sunset Beach, is a unique and ecologically significant location. Spanning approximately 1,300 acres, this barrier island can be reached by walking along the seashore toward the South Carolina border, traveling west-southwest. Originally, Bird Island was separated from Sunset Beach by a tidal creek, Mad Inlet, but over time, natural processes filled in the gap, unifying the two islands.

The island’s ecological importance stems from its role as a habitat for endangered and threatened species, including Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles. Kemp’s ridley (aka Atlantic ridley) sea turtles are the rarest and most endangered sea turtle species in the world.

To visit Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox from Sunset Beach, NC, begin at the Public Beach Access located at West 40th Street. From there, take the access to the beach and head southwest, away from the pier. The journey is approximately 1.5 miles and can be undertaken either on foot or by bike.

As you make your way along the beach, keep an eye out for the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, which is a bit concealed but still visible from the beach. If you find yourself at the jetty, you’ve gone slightly too far. This unique mailbox is a cherished local landmark, offering a place for visitors to share their thoughts and stories in a serene, natural setting.

Visitors journey here to pen their deepest thoughts, hopes, and fears in the journals, forging a profound communal bond. Initiated by Claudia and Frank Nesmith, this tranquil spot serves as a sanctuary where people from all walks of life share personal stories, often marked by anonymity.

This simple mailbox has witnessed countless human experiences, from heartfelt confessions to the celebration of life’s significant moments, making it a symbol of hope and the enduring human spirit. 

Kindred Spirit Mailbox
Photo Credit: NC’s Brunswick Islands

4. Sunset Beach Town Park 

Address: 206 Sunset Blvd N, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Sunset Beach Town Park, a picturesque haven situated on the Intracoastal Waterway, offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and recreational amenities. This five-acre park is adorned with majestic live oak trees, creating a tranquil canopy under which visitors can explore and relax.

Sunset Beach Town Park with swing

For families and children, there are playful swings that offer both fun and a scenic view. Convenient restrooms and a picnic shelter make it an ideal spot for a leisurely day out, whether you’re enjoying a family gathering or a peaceful solo lunch.

A notable feature of the park is its small fishing pier, inviting both amateur and seasoned anglers to cast a line in the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. The gentle breeze and serene setting provide a perfect backdrop for a day of fishing or simply enjoying the waterfront views.

View at Sunset Beach Town Park with Gazebo and swings in the background

5. Ingram Planetarium 

Address: 7625 High Market St, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

The planetarium features an 84-seat theater with a 40-foot domed screen, where guests can enjoy a blend of educational films, star shows, and laser presentations, making it an ideal spot for astronomy enthusiasts and families looking for an engaging and informative outing.

Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (62+), and $8 for children (3-12), while children under 2 enter free. Planetarium Packs for multiple tickets are available for frequent visitors. The planetarium also houses the Paul Dennis Science Hall, which can be visited at no charge, adding an extra educational dimension to the experience.

Ingram Planetarium Building

6. Island Market 

Address: 430 Sunset Blvd S #4166, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

This seasonal gem is a one-stop shop for both locals and vacationers, offering a wide range of beach essentials and more.  

Island Market is your go-to place for an array of beach supplies, ensuring you have everything you need for a perfect day at the beach. From sunscreen to beach toys, they’ve got you covered. Additionally, the market offers a fine selection of beer and wine, ideal for sunset toasts or a relaxing evening.

Not to be missed is the Sand Bar Coffee Shop, a cozy cafe tucked away in the back of the store. It’s a hidden treasure that serves up delicious sandwiches and refreshing beverages, providing the perfect pit stop during your beach adventures.

The Island Market and The Sand Bar

7. Sunset Beach Trading Co 

Address: 423 Sunset Blvd S, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Sunset Beach Trading Co. is a quintessential “mom and pop” style shop, offering a delightful shopping experience right on Sunset Beach. This charming store caters to all your vacation needs, providing a diverse range of products that ensure you have everything you need for a perfect day at the beach.

Here, you can indulge in delicious homemade fudge, shaved-ice Sno-Balls, and ice cream, making it an ideal spot for visitors with a sweet tooth. Beyond these treats, Sunset Beach Trading Co. is filled with an assortment of gifts and home décor items, T-shirts, and beach-appropriate apparel. It’s a treasure trove for those looking to pick up unique souvenirs or essential beachwear.

Additionally, the store stocks a variety of beach equipment, making it convenient for visitors to grab all necessary gear in one place. You’ll find all the essentials to keep the good times rolling without the need to venture far from the beach.

8. Old Bridge Museum 

Address: 109 Shoreline Dr W, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

The Old Sunset Beach Bridge Museum is a unique historical site preserving the legacy of Sunset Beach’s iconic single-lane swing bridge. Today, the bridge, though retired, continues to embody the spirit of the area, thanks to the efforts of The Old Bridge Preservation Society. 

Formed in 2010 by three local women, the Old Bridge Preservation Society initially sought to have the town relocate the bridge. When this did not materialize, they independently spearheaded the preservation efforts. The land was generously donated, allowing for a new site for the Old Bridge, which now resides in a scenic location surrounded by beautiful oak trees.

The bridge and its tender house have been transformed into a museum. This museum not only showcases the history of the iconic bridge but also highlights its technical operations. Open from March 1 through December 31. You can tour Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Old Bridge Museum

9. Bill’s Seafood – Sunset Beach 

Address: 310 Sunset Blvd N, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Bill’s Seafood, under the passionate stewardship of owner Tim Soots since 2019, is more than just a seafood market. It’s a community cornerstone offering the freshest local seafood caught daily by its own fleet. Alongside seafood, you’ll find a variety of groceries, beer, wine, and unique souvenirs. 

Known for their homemade key lime pies, crab dips, and soups, Bill’s also provides essential services like cleaning and preparing your catch. Committed to sustainability and supporting the local community.

Bill's Seafood

10. Daves Outpost 

Address: 205 Sunset Blvd N, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Daves Outpost, a renowned fishing and boating hub in Sunset Beach, is the go-to destination for both seasoned anglers and beginners. Known for its exceptional customer service, the store offers a wide array of fishing and boating essentials, including live bait, tackle, clothing, and drinks. 

11. Carl Bazemore Bird Walk 

Address: Shoreline Dr W. Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Located off Shoreline Drive West, the Carl Bazemore Bird Walk is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and anyone looking to enjoy the beauty and diversity of wildlife in Sunset Beach. Conveniently accessible, this scenic spot allows you to drive up and step onto a viewing platform.

Here, you’re greeted by a diverse array of wildlife, including alligators and various bird species such as herons, egrets, eagles, osprey, ducks, and geese, as well as turtles and other fascinating creatures. The platform provides an excellent vantage point for birdwatching and observing the natural habitat of these animals. Remember to bring your binoculars for a closer look at the wildlife.

12. Golf

⛳ Oyster Bay Golf Links‎ | 614 Lakeshore Dr, Sunset Beach, NC 28468 

⛳ Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center | 75A Clubhouse Rd, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

⛳ Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club | 800 N Sandpiper Club Dr, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Sunset Beach is a paradise for golf enthusiasts, featuring several exceptional golf courses that cater to players of all skill levels. Each of these golf courses in Sunset Beach provides a unique golfing experience, from challenging layouts to stunning landscapes, making the area a must-visit destination for golf lovers.

Oyster Bay Golf Links

13. Marvelous Issues Comic Shop

Address: 1780-4 Queen Anne, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Marvelous Issues is a haven for fans of comic books and collectibles. The store boasts an extensive collection that appeals to both veteran comic collectors and those new to the realm. It offers a diverse selection, from the latest issues to raw and graded comics, ensuring every comic enthusiast finds something to cherish.

But Marvelous Issues isn’t just about comics; it’s also a treasure trove of statues, toys, and collectibles from renowned brands. This store stands out for its commitment to sourcing not only popular items but also those rare and sought-after collectibles, making it an ideal spot for discovering unique and exceptional pieces. 

14. Southernista

Address: 790 Sunset Blvd N, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in Sunset Beach, Southernista might be just the place for you. As a local boutique, it offers a range of products that reflect the charm and style of the South. Here, you will find clothing, home accessories, jewelry, hats, beach totes, candles, and more! 

Drinks and Restaurants in Sunset Beach NC

✅ Coastal Grounds
Address: 424 Sunset Blvd S Unit 1, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Established in 2018 as the first gourmet coffee bar on Sunset Beach. This coffee shop not only specializes in lattes and other coffee delights but also doubles as an ice cream shop, combining two beloved treats in one place. With the addition of free Wi-Fi, it’s the perfect spot to relax, connect, and enjoy the coastal atmosphere.

The Coastal Grounds Entrance

✅ The Sand Bar Coffee and Deli
Address: 430 Sunset Blvd S #4166, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

The Sand Bar Coffee and Deli, nestled within Island Market at Sunset Beach, is a charming hidden gem. This cozy café, located at the back of the store, specializes in delicious sandwiches and a variety of refreshing beverages.

✅ Sunset Slush & Sandcastles Sweets & Treats
Address: 426 Sunset Blvd S, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Sunset Slush offers a refreshing experience with its wide array of Italian ice flavors. This popular spot invites visitors to explore and indulge in numerous slush options, each bursting with taste. 

A unique aspect of Sunset Slush is the option to purchase a fancy koozie, which not only serves as a souvenir but also entitles customers to discounted refills on future visits. Additionally, it features a delightful selection of candy, adding to the sweet offerings.

✅ The Boat Landing Restaurant
Address: 102 Sunset Blvd N, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

A family-owned and operated dining destination known for its breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway. With a focus on delivering great food in a spectacular setting, The Boat Landing Restaurant is the perfect spot for those looking to enjoy a meal amidst the beauty of Sunset Beach. Seasonal hours may vary, ensuring each visit is tailored to the best times of the year.

The Boat Landing Restaurant View near Sunset Beach Town Park

✅ Fibber McGees
Address: 1780 Queen Anne UNIT 1, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

This welcoming establishment is open six days a week and boasts a diverse menu featuring paninis, wraps, sandwiches, salads, and daily specials. Additionally, they offer a fully stocked bar, ensuring a wide selection of beverages, including domestic and imported beers.

Whether you’re in the mood for burgers, wings, or sandwiches, this is a great spot for those seeking a lively and enjoyable dining experience.

Fibber McGees

✅ La Cucina
Address: 1780 Chandlers Ln #11, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

La Cucina is a charming and intimate bar and restaurant that specializes in crafting hearty Italian and Italian-American delicacies. With a focus on authenticity, the restaurant serves up a delectable array of Italian dishes that delight the palate. 

Complementing the cuisine is a thoughtfully curated wine list, ensuring a perfect pairing for every meal. A standout favorite at La Cucina is the chicken parmesan, which has garnered a reputation for its exceptional taste and quality. 

✅ Las Palmeras
Address: 1780 Chandlers Ln # 4, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Las Palmeras is a vibrant restaurant dedicated to serving hearty and classic Mexican cuisine. With a menu filled with authentic flavors, it offers a delightful culinary journey through Mexican cuisine. You can complement your meal with a selection of beer and tequila drinks, enhancing the dining experience. 

✅ Beach House Cafe
Address: 1780 Chandlers Ln #7 Village, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

From brunch to lunch, this cafe offers a diverse menu to satisfy every appetite. Guests can enjoy a selection of salads, sandwiches, smoothies, Açaí bowls, wine, beer, and more, ensuring there’s something for everyone. 

Beach House Cafe entrance

✅ Host & Graze
Address: 7645-5 High Market St, Sunset Beach, NC 28468

Host & Graze specializes in crafting custom charcuterie boards, boxes, grazing tables, and more. Their expertise lies in curating delightful arrangements of cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruits, and other delectable items. 

Whether you’re hosting an event or simply looking for a unique and visually appealing culinary experience, Host & Graze is your go-to source for creating custom charcuterie delights that are both delicious and aesthetically pleasing. 

✅ Sarah’s Kitchen
Address: 1649 Seaside Rd SW, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

Sarah’s Kitchen is a charming and laid-back diner known for serving casual American meals. Their menu features a variety of delicious options, including eggs and sandwiches for both breakfast and lunch. Notably, they take pride in offering some of the biggest pancakes in town, making it a must-visit destination for pancake enthusiasts. 

Sarah's Kitchen

✅ The Brew House
Address: 7207 Beach Dr SW, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

Known for its commitment to offering a wide range of options, The Brew House features a menu that includes coffee, drinks, and healthy food choices. Guests can indulge in vegan and gluten-free snacks, ensuring dietary inclusivity. 

The Brew House

✅ Silver Coast Winery
Address: 6680 Barbeque Rd NW, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

As the first winery in the county, Silver Coast has earned a reputation for its award-winning, European-style wines. Guests can embark on daily tours and tastings, indulging in a rich tapestry of flavors. The winery also boasts an art-decorated tasting room that offers glasses and flights, providing a sensory experience that transcends the ordinary.  

Things to Do near Sunset Beach NC

Looking for more to do in the local area? Here are some great places to check out.

✅ The Swamp Park
Address: 5550 Watts Rd SW, Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469

Embark on exhilarating zipline tours that allow you to soar above the lush canopy in addition to the aerial adventure park. For those seeking a closer encounter with nature, guided swamp boat tours provide an opportunity to observe the local wildlife and immerse themselves in the pristine environment.

Swamp Park

✅ Day Trip to Calabash, NC | 20 mins or less drive from Sunset Beach

Known as the “Seafood Capital of the World,” Calabash boasts a rich culinary scene where visitors can savor the freshest seafood. The town’s charming waterfront area is dotted with family-owned seafood restaurants, offering a taste of the ocean’s bounty.

In addition to its culinary treasures, Calabash features boutique shops and art galleries, making it an ideal place for leisurely strolls and souvenir hunting.  

Calabash NC Waterfront
Photo Credit: NC’s Brunswick Islands

✅ Day Trip to Ocean Isle Beach, NC | 20 mins or less drive from Sunset Beach

Ocean Isle Beach is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for families and beach lovers. The island also boasts a selection of local restaurants and shops, offering everything from seafood delights to unique souvenirs. 

Ocean Isle Beach NC Sunrise

✅ Day Trip to North Myrtle Beach | Approximately 30 mins from Sunset Beach

A day trip to North Myrtle Beach promises an array of exciting activities and attractions. Start your adventure with a visit to Lost Treasure Golf, where you can enjoy a round of mini-golf in a captivating pirate-themed setting. Next, head to Cherry Grove Fishing Pier, where you can cast your line and try your luck at fishing while taking in scenic ocean views.

For those seeking indoor entertainment, 810 Billiards & Bowling in North Myrtle Beach offers a fun-filled experience with billiards, bowling, and a lively atmosphere. 

✅ Vereen Memorial Gardens | 20 mins or less drive from Sunset Beach
Address: 2250 SC-179, Little River, SC 29566

Vereen Memorial Gardens is a hidden gem nestled in Little River, SC. This serene natural oasis offers visitors a tranquil escape surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque waterways. The gardens feature a network of scenic trails that wind through the coastal forest and along the Intracoastal Waterway, providing a perfect setting for leisurely walks and wildlife observation.

As you explore Vereen Memorial Gardens, you’ll encounter various species of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. The gardens also boast a historic aspect with remnants of an old rice plantation, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the experience.

Annual Events in & near Sunset Beach NC 

Here are some great events to look forward to in Sunset Beach.

Sunset at Sunset | 1st Saturday in October 

Sunset Beach Summer Market is held every Thursday 9 am – 1 pm at the Sunset Beach Waterfront Park during the summer. 

NC Oyster Festival | October 19 – 20, 2024

Blue Crab Festival | May 18 – 19, 2024

​​Where To Stay in Sunset Beach NC

📍Oceanfront Four-Bedroom Home – Escape to Sunset Beach for a cozy oceanfront retreat. This 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath cottage offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with ocean views from the renovated kitchen and living room. Enjoy the convenience of a fully equipped kitchen, comfortable dining space, and outdoor amenities like covered porches, sundecks, and charcoal grills. Located just 1.4 miles from the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, a famous local landmark and the inspiration behind Nicholas Sparks’ novel ‘Every Breath.’ Ideal for a winter or spring weekend getaway with a 3-day minimum stay.

📍Sunset Beach Large Oceanfront Home – A perfect retreat for both lively gatherings and tranquil beach escapes. This versatile house sleeps 14, offering four bedrooms with private bathrooms, a spacious living area with a queen sleeper, and a cozy half bath. Each morning, you can savor breakfast on the deck, surrounded by soothing wave sounds and warm sunshine. The top-floor terrace presents stunning sunrises, sunsets, and starlit skies. 

📍The Sunset Inn – The Sunset Inn offers comfortable lodging with complimentary WiFi and private parking. The spacious rooms are well-appointed with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, DVD player, and private bathrooms equipped with showers. Each room is furnished with quality bed linen and towels. Guests can enjoy a daily continental breakfast while taking in views of the saltwater marsh and Intracoastal Waterway, with the beach just a short walk away. 

Sunset Beach NC: FAQs

📌 What is Sunset Beach known for?
Sunset Beach is known for its tranquil sandy beaches, picturesque sunsets, and the unique Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island.

📌 Is there a boardwalk at Sunset Beach, NC?
Sunset Beach, NC, does not have a traditional boardwalk but offers a charming pier and nearby walkable areas for scenic strolls and exploration.

📌 Is Sunset Beach free?
Yes, Sunset Beach is free to the public, offering open access to its beautiful beaches and natural surroundings without any entrance fees.

📌 Is Sunset Beach worth a visit?
Sunset Beach is worth visiting for its serene beaches, stunning sunsets, and peaceful atmosphere, which are ideal for those seeking relaxation and nature exploration.

📌 Is Sunset Beach, NC, crowded?
Sunset Beach, NC, tends to be less crowded compared to other popular NC beaches, offering a more peaceful and relaxed beach experience.

📌 Which is better, Sunset Beach or Ocean Isle Beach?
Choosing between Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach depends on personal preferences. Sunset Beach offers a quieter, more tranquil experience, while Ocean Isle Beach has more amenities and activities, making it livelier. Both have beautiful beaches and unique charms.

📌 Does Sunset Beach, NC, have bathrooms?
Yes, Sunset Beach, NC, provides public restrooms for visitors, conveniently located near the main beach access point.

Bathrooms at Sunset Beach NC

📌 Are umbrellas allowed at Sunset Beach, NC?
Umbrellas are permitted at Sunset Beach, NC, offering visitors sun protection and comfort. Recent changes to local ordinances require that no umbrellas, cabanas, or recreational items be set up before 7:00 a.m., and they must be removed by 7:00 p.m. daily.

As a turtle sanctuary, it’s important to clear personal property from the beach each night to ensure unobstructed turtle access and safe night-time walks along the beautiful shore. Please check the local ordinance for any changes prior to visiting. 

Beach Toy Library - Sunset Beach NC says Take one out to borrow, drop one in you've found.

Final Thoughts

Sunset Beach, NC, is a treasure trove of serene beauty and relaxing activities. Whether you’re soaking in the stunning sunsets, strolling along the peaceful shore, exploring the unique Kindred Spirit Mailbox, or simply unwinding under an umbrella, this charming beach town offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and tranquility. 

It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With its inviting atmosphere and array of accessible facilities, Sunset Beach promises a memorable and rejuvenating experience for all who visit.

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