A haven for golfers, with four courses to choose from, Hampstead, north of Wilmington and just inland from Topsail Beach, continues to grow with its ideal best-of-both-worlds location. Close to the shopping, dining and culture the big city can provide, yet close to Topsail Island, Hampstead is a favorite
for young families and retirees. Surely embellished over time, it is said that President George Washington once spent a night in the region, eager to dine on wild mullet from Topsail Sound. Mullet, however, had not begun to run and the feast was swapped for ham, hence Hampstead. For more information visit topsailchamber.org.
This quiet residential community at the intersection of Hwys 17 and 50 touts the motto “The Gateway to Topsail Island.” And, while that statement is certainly true, Holly Ridge’s role in bringing people to the island getaway runs far deeper than its convenient location on the way into town. On Dec. 10, 1940, the contract was signed to build Camp Davis here. Constructed in five short months, the Army’s presence brought the population from about 30 area residents to more than 110,000. To learn more, visit www.townofhollyridge.net.
Tucked into the woods on the mainland, this small Onslow County community is best known throughout the state for one thing – its shrimp. Each August it celebrates its fishing industry and the species that has put it on the map with the Sneads Ferry’s Shrimp Festival, bringing visitors from around the state eager for a taste of the wild shrimp that is abundant in the region. The state’s most recent statistics note that Sneads Ferry is responsible for about 385 tons of shrimp a year, making it the county’s largest seafood producer and giving this community of less than 3,000 residents a lot to celebrate.To learn more, visit sneadsferrynorthcarolina.com.
The three beachfront communities of Topsail Island each has its own character, although all embrace a true laid back coastal environment.
North Topsail Beach
Located at the northern tip of Topsail Island, North Topsail Beach is a quiet
residential community with a handful of resorts dotting the coastline. It’s the most secluded of the island’s small towns, providing families with miles of sandy beaches, colorful sunsets and the solitude some prefer. Kayaks and canoes provide a great view of the picturesque sound, a haven for a variety of birds. North Topsail has its own bridge to the mainland, making access to nearby towns easy. For more information, visit www.ntbnc.org.
If the island of Topsail had a downtown center, Surf City would fill that role. Divided between Pender and Onslow counties, the town has one leg on the mainland and another on the island, bridging the gap and welcoming guests to this island paradise. It is home to one of the state’s remaining operational swing bridges, a fitting access to Topsail Island, which opens on the hour to allow boat traffic to pass. It’s also a great spot for scenic views of the sound below. With plans to replace the bridge in coming years, there’s no doubt more people than ever will be jumping out of their cars for a final shot of the historic structure in action. For more information, visit www.surfcity.govoffice.com.
Besides the addition of private homes and small business, little has changed in Topsail
Beach since roads were first constructed by the military in the 1940s. High-rise development is not allowed at this southern most reach of the island and conservation is encouraged, leaving miles of natural, untouched seashore and panoramic views from just about every vantage point. The smallest of the three towns on the island, less than 600 people call Topsail Beach home year-round, however, visitors continue to grow
by the year. With pristine beaches and a nostalgic charm, it’s easy to see what brings families back year after year. To learn more about Topsail Beach, visit www.topsailbeach.org.