Topsail Island: Your Family Vacation Destination!
Topsail Island, situated along North Carolina's southeastern coast, is a 26-mile barrier island located about one mile offshore. The island is set off of US Highway 17 approximately halfway between Wilmington and Jacksonville. Known for its pristine natural beaches and sparkling blue-green waters, Topsail Island offers its visitors an island oasis perfect for an intimate getaway, a family vacation, or a home-away-from-home. Bryson & Associates has many vacation rentals to choose from for that perfect vacation.
The island is composed of three towns -
North Topsail Beach, Surf City and
Topsail Beach. North Topsail Beach, as the name suggests, occupies the northern most part of the Island; followed by Surf City, which is the largest town on the island; and then Topsail Beach, the smallest town found on the southern-most part of the island.
Today, Topsail Island is accessible by both an old-fashioned swing bridge and a modern high-rise bridge. Prior to World War II, Topsail Island was only accessible by boat. At that time, area residents often made quick trips back and forth to the island to enjoy its sandy shores and panoramic views of the Atlantic.
Topsail Island has a diverse history rich with maritime influence. Legend has it that its name (pronounced Tops'l) originated from the pirate ships that once sailed the coastal waters in the 1700s. The pillaging and plundering pirates are said to have hid their ships in the channel behind the island to lie in wait for loaded merchant ships in passing. Once spotted, the pirates would pursue the merchants to claim the cargo as their own. Eventually word got out and the merchants became aware of this ploy. They began to watch for the tops of the pirate-ship sails that would peek over the dunes - and therefore the name, Topsail Island.
Also of historical note, at the end of World War II the Navy took over the island to establish a top-secret experimental project to develop and test ramjet missiles. The venture was known as Operation Bumblebee. This operation opened the way for supersonic jet aircraft design and was the beginning of the U.S. space program. Starting in 1946 and continuing for 18 months, it is estimated that over 200 experimental rocket launchings took place. An arsenal center was built, launching pads constructed, and concrete observation towers were put in place all over the island. Though initially successful, weather conditions and the increase of sea traffic caused interference with testing and the program was dismantled. The government sold the island to the public. Today, much of that history remains visible with many of the original military structures still standing. The Assembly Building is now the Missiles and More Museum where visitors can delve deeper into the historical significance of the area.
Topsail Island values the beautification, conservation, protection and preservation of the natural environment. Visitors can find a truly unique experience by visiting
The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center located in Topsail Beach. Its mission is to conserve and protect all species of marine turtles both in the water and on the shores. The center rescues and rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles for release back into the wild. Volunteers monitor the beaches from May through August during the sea turtle nesting season. Tours are available during the summer season on a limited basis, so it's best to contact the facility directly for the schedule.
Topsail Island has so much to offer as a vacation destination or for a permanent relocation. The sandy shores, warm salty air, and crashing waves all welcome you to this island paradise. In addition to the peaceful beaches and shorelines, the abundant history, and untouched beauty of the natural coastal environment there are also plenty of shops, restaurants, and other attractions within the three towns that are sure to please. Don't forget to visit our More To See & Do page for a detailed list of what we have to offer.
We look forward to your visit!