In my humble opinion, Bald Head Island is one of the best kept secrets of the South! You might think of Charleston or Savannah when planning a weekend trip, but Bald Head Island was really impressive. It’s only about 3.5 hours from both Charlotte or Charleston which makes it perfect for a fun weekend getaway!
Our wedding anniversary is in May, so it was the perfect opportunity to explore BHI! My husband hadn’t been since childhood, so we were excited to discover some uncharted territory together. In this post, I’ll break down the travel, lodging, food and activity details, so you won’t miss a beat if you go yourself!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments below or on social media, and I will be happy to help!
Travel to BALD HEAD ISLAND
Whether it’s planes or driving, I am the type that prefers limited travel. With Bald Head Island, I was pleasantly surprised that travel was at a minimum. We booked a hotel in Southport, NC on Thursday night, so we were ready to go for the Friday morning ferry. The ferry runs every hour, but make sure to get there early because they do cap at 150 people. Furthermore, the ferry has an upper and lower deck (see picture), and it runs very smoothly! It is no wonder that their motto is “half the fun is getting there!”
Bald Head might be an island, but they also need a ferry because they do not allow cars (except emergency, construction, etc)! It’s different, but you will be grateful for the ‘no cars’ rule once you see how peaceful it is! In addition, try to pack light, but don’t stress because you can check them on ferry. Once you arrive, there will be carts to take you where need to go! Luckily, the ferry port was right by our inn making it a relatively easy walk if you prefer that too.
With that said, it might take a bit more travel planning for ferry times etc, but it is definitely worth it when you make it to the other side and are welcomed by beautiful sandy beaches!
Lodging in Bald Head Island
So now that you’ve made it to Bald Head Island, where are the best places to stay? As mentioned above, the island is pretty small with many residential homes, so public lodging is somewhat limited. With this in mind, we stayed at a bed and breakfast called: The Inn at Bald Head Island. It is super cute, great location, and had a balcony making it perfect for those lazy, sunny mornings. However, there are only 10 rooms available, so they do tend to book up rather quickly.
There are other rentals closer to the beaches, but we preferred the Inn since it was closer to restaurants and shops. Check-in is usually around 3pm, but they will hold your luggage and/or let you grab any of their free drinks and snacks before heading out for your day activities!
The options that come free with your stay are complimentary breakfast (it was delish!), beach chairs/towels/umbrellas, bicycles, snacks/drinks, and a lovely wine happy hour they do from 5-6pm. Some add-on options included: golf cart rentals (a must for getting around the island!) and a country club guest membership which were great for dinners. However, since check-in isn’t until 3pm, you can’t pick up the golf cart earlier unless you pay for an extra day— just something to keep in mind!
Food at Bald Head Island
One of the best aspects of travel is the food, amiiright?? And Bald Head Island did not disappoint! Whether it was a satisfying breakfast, great lunch options, or elegant dinners, there was something for everyone! There is about 5 or so restaurants in town that serve seafood or other bar food options if you are looking for a quick bite before heading to the beach. However, I would recommend getting the guest pass to the country clubs as they have more restaurant options at a higher quality.
Our typical day would be to eat breakfast at the inn, eat lunch in town, and then head to the country clubs at night for dinner. There is also a grocery store on the island which was helpful to pick up some extra necessities like sunscreen, beach snacks or extra water bottles.
The two country club restaurants we dined at was Horizons and the Palms. Horizons is more of a casual place if you are looking for seafood baskets that are “calabash-style” (aka fried shrimp, fish, etc.) The second restaurant called the Palms was more upscale and offered items like steak filets, NY strips, etc. It felt more like a traditional steakhouse where they offer great sides and glazes for the steak. I am usually on the fence with Brussel sprouts, but the Palms’ were the best ever! They had a light honey-caramelized glaze that cut the bitter taste and gave a great crisp! Also, in the picture above, was a FANTASTIC shrimp appetizer that had just the right amount of spicy heat!
For desserts, the restaurants offered amazing options like chocolate fudge cake (Horizons), and a delicious java cake from Palms. Plus, just as a reminder, the Inn does offer snacks in the communal areas in case you want a midnight snack!
Activities on Bald Head Island
Needless to say, three days was definitely not enough time to explore everything we wanted to on BHI! Since it was our 1st beach trip this year, we spent most of our time just soaking up the sun on the beach… Unfortunately, our itinerary never seems to be fulfilled when the beach keeps sucking us back in! But…. amazing beaches isn’t the only thing that Bald Head has to offer– check out the Top 5 activities below!
However, it wasn’t completely our fault because we came during the off-season for some of their best activities! For example, sea turtle season starts between mid-May and goes through August/September. During this time you can go on turtle walks, adopt a turtle, or go on a conservancy tour! It really is amazing to see the time and dedication given to preserving this amazing species!
2. Old Baldy Lighthouse
This activity probably should have been number 1, but I couldn’t do the most obvious one first! 😉 Old Baldy is the iconic lighthouse that gives Bald Head its unique landscape. It is 1 of 3 lighthouses that were built, but it is the only one that still remains. You can go on a tour and climb the 108 steps to the top to get a beautiful panoramic view of the island!
3. BHI AFter Dark
If you enjoy water activities then kayaking through the conservancy is for you! It is a 2 hr guided tour where you can explore different creeks, see views of wildlife, and learn about different ecosystems. Make sure to bring some sunscreen and water to stay hydrated!
5. Country Club Day Pass
The country clubs are great for dining, but they also have great activity options! Whether you enjoy golfing, water slides, or just relaxing by the pool, then a country club day pass would be perfect for you. The Bald Head Island Club will be your go-to destination for all sport activities, dining, and fitness.
Whether you try any of these activities or not, you will be sure to make some incredible Bald Head Island memories!
If I haven’t convinced you already, Bald Head Island is a gem just waiting to be explored! From the pristine beaches to the delicate wildlife, it is a great place for a weekend getaway! If you are looking for any additional recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask!