At the Beach

Rachel Carter Images (@rachelcarterimages)

Ahhh, the beach. The best part, am I right? We are going to dive into boating information, surfing, sunsets, ordinances, etc., but first, let's learn a little about the area that we are so lucky to call home.

Prior to World War II, the only way to access Topsail Island was by boat. During low tide, farmers used to drive their livestock across the waterway to graze on wild beach grass, and locals would cross to spend the day on the sandy shores. Treasure hunters have searched for Blackbeard's infamous buried treasure in the maritime forest, covering the island. 

Speaking of pirates, they used to lie in wait for merchant ships between the island and the mainland, with nothing but the tops of their sails visible – hence the name "Topsail." However, make sure you pronounce it "top-sul," not "top-sail," like the locals!

Topsail Island is a barrier island, performing essential functions like storm protection, offering estuaries of marine life (essential to the ecosystem at large), and are extremely beneficial to sea turtles – particularly loggerheads. Topsail is home to nesting areas, which bring sea turtles ashore each spring to bury their eggs. In the fall, you can see hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea. It is incredibly important not to mess with their nests or the hatchlings. Loggerheads are a threatened species, and we want to aid in their conservation. 

Topsail Island has made multiple "best of" lists around the country, and it's no wonder why. That's why you're here, right?



Dog Rules
North Topsail Beach: Dogs must be leashed at all times. Owners must remove pet waste.**
Topsail Beach: From May 15th-Sept. 30th, pets must be on a leash no longer than 20 feet. At all other times, dogs may be off-leash but must be under voice command. Removal of pet waste is required.
Surf City: Pets must be on a leash at all times. Removal of pet waste is required.
**Fine for leash law violation and failure to remove waste is $100.

North Topsail Beach: Beer and wine allowed, no liquor or glass bottles
Topsail Beach: Alcohol allowed, no glass bottles
Surf City: Alcohol is not allowed on the beach.

Holes on the Beach
Please be mindful that holes left unattended on the beach can cause injury to others, especially at night. Animals may unintentionally get trapped as well. Before you leave the beach, please fill any holes you may have dug, and do not leave them unattended.

There is a $500 fine for walking on the dunes – please stay off. Use beach accesses and crosswalks. Why is this important? We want to prevent the deterioration of beach grass, and other vegetation, that helps hold the sand in place. Without dunes, inland areas are more prone to flooding from coastal storms. Protecting them in turn prevents loss of life and property damage.


Before you enjoy our wonderful beaches, please take some time to understand 
Beach Safety and Regulations.


You can be fined or arrested for entering the water.

Dangerous rip currents and high surf; recommended you stay out of the water.

Moderate surf and/or rip currents; exercise caution.

Calm conditions; exercise caution.

Potentially hazardous marine life: man-o-war, jellyfish, and/or other creatures

The absence of flags does not assure safe waters.

Pender County locals love the beach days as much as the tourists. The goal of our fire departments and Ocean Rescue teams are for everyone to enjoy the beach safely. Surf conditions vary depending upon the current, past, and future weather. The presence of marine life can also play a role in swimming safety. All of our beaches have a system of flags that are posted at public beach access, lifeguard stands, and along the beach, to alert beachgoers about the safety of the water.

Also, be mindful of rip currents. If you get trapped in one, it is important to not panic, and remember to swim parallel to the shore to escape it. Swimming toward the beach will only keep you in its grip and will pull you further out into the ocean.




Aquaholics Boat Rentals
13460 NC Hwy. 50/210, Ste. 104, Surf City
(910) 231-1738

Boating Access: Surf City
517 Roland Ave., Surf City
(919) 707-0010

Bush Marina: Open to the Public
912 S. Anderson Blvd., Topsail Beach
(910) 328-2746

Lea Island – Topsail Beach
Only accessible by boat. Best place to see wildlife, collect shells, sand dollars, sea glass and shark teeth.

Surf City Jet Ski Rentals
512 Roland Ave., Surf City
(910) 899-8606

Topsail Boat Rentals
203 N. New River Dr., Surf City
(910) 833-2273

Topsail Island Yacht Club
111 N. New River Dr., Surf City
(910) 899-8606


Surf City Ocean Pier
112 South Shore Dr., Surf City
(910) 328-3521

Jolly Roger Pier 
803 Ocean Blvd., Topsail Beach
(910) 328-4616


Topsail Surf Adventures
Surf lessons, paddleboard excursions and kayak tours
Surf City, NC 28445
(910) 803-1099

Surf City Surf School
107 North Shore Dr., Surf City, NC 28445
(910) 616-2280

"The most populated place to watch sunrise is Surf City Pier, which is also the most populated place to surf. If you want to be around other people or meet new friends, this gathering spot is a great place." – Rachel

"The best sunset spot is Serenity Point. High clouds are the best for sunrise, and look all around at the sky, not just where the sun will rise." – Rachel

"Surfline, Magic Seaweed, and Swell Info are awesome websites to check the sure, tide, etc. before heading out." – Tom

"Reminder, you can't get within 500 feet of the pier when surfing at Topsail Beach." – Tim

"If you are beachfront (lucky you!), please turn off your back porch and deck lights. Turtles are drawn to the light (moonlight) and will become disoriented and could possibly die if they are confused by your lights." – Amanda