Sunset Beach, NC

My wife and I are going to Sunset beach, NC Saturday. I was wondering if anyone has been to the area? Any tips on places to check out? I have access to a perception torrent and a dagger reflection 15 (canoe). Would it be worth bringing either for some paddling in the area?



sunset beach
the saltmarsh behind sunset beach is quite nice. on the north end of the island, the area near the inlet is a good place to paddle and fish. south, the creeks leading toward bird island are great as well. be aware that this time of year lots of water and sunscreen are needed, though i’m sure you already know that :slight_smile: also, as the sun sets beware the salt marsh mosquito (large and ferocious!). lots of construction on the new bridge to the island. hope you have a good trip.


Sunset Beach
Definitely bring your canoe.

NC has a mapped paddle trail system for the coast. (I just tried to import the link and failed. So Google “NC paddle trails” or “NC paddle trails Sunset Beach.”)

Besides the trails in the saltmarshes, there is also the nearby Lockwood Folly River, a blackwater stream that is tidal part way. I think we launched off Hwy. 211 near the town of Supply.

Paddling opportunities are endless in the NC coastal plain.

Sunset Beach – wind and tide
Uh p.s., can be significant tidal current and wind all up and down the coast. Kayaks are generally easier to paddle at the NC coast – probably the same on all coasts and probably you knew that already. But I’d feel bad if you had a rotten time in your canoe because of conditions. Bring kayaks too!

One thing to look out for on our coast, back in the marshes, is oyster bars – very sharp, can scratch a hull badly if you run up on them. Wear shoes when paddling. And have a great time!

Thanks for the input folks. The kayaks are now out as I have rented all our boats for Saturday so they must stay at the shop to make Dave some money. I will have to see if the wife will ok bringing the canoe. I think it would be cool to paddle in the coastal area. I am a transplant from Ohio so the coast is like a different planet to me.

Oyster Bars…
When I was living in Wilmington, my ex-father-in-law used to take us “Oystering” on the Inland Waterway near Sunset Beach…I HATE the buggers, but I LOVE to go get them for other people…Take a few extra items with you when you go…a rake, a small shovel, and a galvanized bucket…

oh, and don’t forget your camera, you are going to see and experience beauty personified…

We can actually just dig oysters up off the bars and take them?


– Last Updated: Aug-07-08 7:41 PM EST –

if there are no posted shellfish closure warnings, yes you may gather oysters. however, in our southern states the gathering of oysters during the summer months sets you up to possibly getting a severe illness (v. vulnificus, a gram negative bacteria) associated with raw oysters, especially in persons who have liver disease, or a compromised immune system. usual route of entry is while cleaning the oysters the bacteria enter through cuts in the skin. the saying down here is that oysters are safe to gather in months that have lots of "r's" in them (ie: january, december, etc). you might not get sick, but i don't think the reward is worth the possible risk, but then i don't like oysters! at any rate around the more developed beaches i'd be cautious about gathering any filter feeders where a lot of septic tanks have been placed. bon appetite. -harry

A lot of places on the coast are closed to shellfishing. You’ll see why when you get to Sunset Beach – the houses are closely spaced. Lots of runoff. That said, there ARE some places where you can safely take shellfish. I’d suggest asking around at a fishing pier or bait shop or marina. There will be people who know. (Commercial oystering in NC is just about gone; commercial fishing is declining too – people want cheap farmed shrimp from Central America instead of wild-caught NC shrimp at 2 and a half to 3 times the price – and 10 times the taste!. Blue crabs are still a valuable catch in NC.)

And hey, an idea. If you go in a kayak shop or marina around Sunset, ask if they have a free printed paddle trail map for that area. Many of the NC coastal counties with paddle trails have printed up really nice 4-color maps to be given away to paddlers. I can’t say whether Brunswick County has done so, but it’s worth a try, right? Those paddle-trail maps have directions to put-ins and take-outs.

Folks have their druthers concerning the NC coast. I like it wild and empty. If you EVER in your life get a chance to go to Ocracoke Island, go. It’s magnificent. One little village around a harbor and the rest is national seashore. And there’s no doggone bridge connecting it to anything! (Ferry.) End of the world. Lovely beyond lovely.

All best,


link to online paddle trail map, Sunset

Go to the above URL.

Then, on the left-side menu, click on “paddle trails” (I think – or it may be “paddle trail maps”).

This will take you to a state map showing regions by number. Click on region number 5.

Region 5 shows you the southwest corner of the NC coast with a lot of boxes denoting different mapped areas.

Click on the box in the extreme lower left (southwest) corner of the coast. Clicking on that box will bring up the map of paddle trails around Sunset Beach. Not as good as a paper map, but it’ll put you in the mood!

Rice’s creek
If you want to check out a nice little creek that’s not to far from the beach try this one. To find it you need to start on Hwy 17 near Town Creek. Look for Governor’s Rd. Go about 1.5 miles and turn left onto Gordon Lewis Rd. Ramp @ end of road. Launch left and paddle creek out to intersect with Town Creek or Launch right and paddle Rice creek till you run out of water. Lot’s of local “friendly” fishermen on this creek plus snakes, beaver, birds, a gator or two…