Topsail Island Area Info
Welcome to Topsail Island, North Carolina's untapped paradise, only 30 minutes north of the historic seaport of Wilmington. Surrounded by the tame Intracoastal Waterway and the wild Atlantic Ocean, Topsail Island offers a wide range of excursions. Stroll the endless miles of clean, quiet beaches: shell-collecting, bird watching, wave gazing. Sleep in, sunbathe, laugh at dolphins surfing at sunset, marvel at a panoramic view of constellations, and listen to surf in the stillness of the night. Cast out for challenging fighting fish from a pier or picnic along the channel fishing for trout. Swim and surf, skirt the southern dunes, explore tide pools and sand bars, sculpt sandcastles, fly a kite, read, draw, nap, relax in the undisturbed beauty of this natural dreamland or look for adventure. Bike, kayak, golf, or investigate the local history of famous pirates. Try one of Topsail's extraordinary restaurants, gift shops, or sports outlets. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy the nearby idyllic isolation of this family beach that offers something for every age and dream. There are area activities to enjoy for all ages from miniature golf to roller skating and golf.
This is home to the loggerhead turtle and brown sea pelican. Many vacationers who have witnessed the turtles nesting have scheduled a return to the island to view the hatching of nests each year. Egrets and water fowl abound in the marshes, inlets and other natural areas surrounding the island.
Topsail is steeped in maritime and military history. As early as the 1700's, the island was known as Topsail Island. The name "Topsail" (pronounced Topsul) is said to have originated during the days of piracy. Pirates hid their ships in the channels behind the dunes and waited for passing merchant ships, which they would pursue and attack. As the freighters became wise to the pirates' ploy, they began watching for the tops of the pirates' sails showing over the dunes - hence the name "Topsail Island".
During the late 1940's Topsail Island hosted a Navy missile development program, Operation Bumblebee, which was the precursor to the NASA program that is now found in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Assembly Building in Topsail Beach was where the experimental missiles were produced. The concrete towers you can see scattered about the island were observation towers for tracking the flight of the missiles.
Topsail Island's location is five miles east of US Highway 17 via NC's Route 210 and Route 50. Visitors can easily reach the island from access points along Interstate 40. Topsail Island is approximately 35 miles north of Wilmington. Travel across a landmark swing bridge on NC Route 50 to Surf City or by NC Route 210 over a high-rise bridge near the northern end of the island.
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