As soon as you step off the ferry onto Bald Head Island, it’s clear this is a place like no other. Take a deep breath, smell the salty air, feel the ocean breezes on your face, and listen to the sounds of water and wildlife.
Although not strictly an island since Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, the area retains its remote and picturesque nature. Only service vehicles are allowed, so bicycles and electric golf carts rule the roads.
In addition to its renown as a vacation getaway, this southernmost settlement in North Carolina is nationally recognized as a sea turtle nesting spot and a prime place for birdwatching. The Bald Head Island Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the barrier island’s habitat. The group also leads birdwatching tours and turtle-themed programs throughout the year.
Outdoor activities like kayaking, kiteboarding and surfing are typical pastimes, but you can also exercise your brain with a visit to the historic Old Baldy lighthouse — and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the scenery.
In the following photos, photographer Jonathan Fredin gives you a peek at what he calls “a magical place.”
When you go
- The Bald Head Island passenger ferry in Southport, N.C., makes 20-minute trips to and from the island daily. Rates are $22 per adult and $11 per child (ages 3-12). Children 2 and under are free. For ferry schedules, maps and more go to baldheadisland.com or call (910) 457-5003.
- The Marsh Harbor Inn is located on the Bald Head Island marina within walking distance to restaurants, shops and the Maritime Market. For more information, call (910) 454-0451 or visit marshharbourinn.com.
- The Bald Head Island Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is barrier island conservation, preservation and education. It includes Bald Head, Middle and Bluff Islands, all of which are bounded by the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. To learn more about the conservancy, visit bhic.org
- The Old Baldy Foundation gives a glimpse into the history of Bald Head Island from its first appearance on maps in the 1500s to the development of the island in the 1980s. Tours begin on the island at the ferry terminal in the harbor (for on-island guests) and from Deep Point Marina (for day visitors). Stops on the tour include the Old Boathouse located on Bald Head Creek, the foundation of the Cape Fear Light, and Captain Charlie’s Station, three lighthouse keepers’ cottages dating to 1903. Call (910) 457-5003 for details.
- The Sail Shop provides guided kayak tours, as well as surfing and sailing lessons, and equipment rental. For reservations and inquiries, call (910) 457-6844 or visit thesailshop.com.