July 31, 2018

Beach Getaway: Our Trip to Oak Island, North Carolina

Last week we ventured off on a little getaway. It was just the two of us (the first in a while!) and we stayed in a cozy little beach town in North Carolina that neither of us had been to before. Despite the rain, we made the most of a week away from home and cherish the memories we made. Today I've put together handful of our favorite vacation snaps if you'd like to see...

Earlier in the summer Tim found a sweet little place to stay on Airbnb and surprised me with the idea of a vacation in Oak Island. I'd never heard of it (at least I thought I hadn't) and we loved the idea of an adventure in a place neither of us had been before.

We were right on the beach and the salt air was a welcome treat. I'm sure it's discouraged, but I fed the seagulls a few pinches of leftover bread from breakfast and we even came across a shark tooth among the shells. I'm accustomed to finding shark teeth along the James River here in Virginia, but didn't expect to see them at the beach; we weren't even looking! It gave us a good laugh since it coincided with Shark Week on TV too.

Aside from beach time, there were so many cute little eat spots and thrift shops to pop into. At the far side of the island we found the Oak Island Light. It's a mid century lighthouse that requires at least 4 weeks advance booking to climb, so we missed out on what was likely an incredible view of the coast, but instead ventured onto the beach to see the protected sea turtle nests along the water.

Like I mentioned earlier, there was a fair amount of rain — enough to make most beach days a bust, so we came up with an alternate plan to take a few mini day trips along the Carolina Coast. It turns out, Myrtle Beach, Southport, and Wilmington are all within reasonable driving distance from Oak Island!

I grew up an Outer Banks girl, but Tim's family vacationed in Myrtle Beach throughout his childhood. We had fun driving along the main strip and trying to recall which hotel it was where his family used to stay. We also walked Barefoot Landing where my childhood dreams of saltwater taffy came flooding back. As a kid, it was all about the banana flavored taffy.

Southport was probably the quickest drive from Oak Island and made for a perfect daytime adventure. It's such a quaint coastal town with rows upon rows of historic houses I could have photographed for days. Most of them dated back to the late 1800's!

The town was filled with charming coastal gift and antique shops, a general store and a small fishing pier with a view that looks back on the Oak Island lighthouse in the distance. It's easy to walk over the course of a morning or afternoon with lunch to start or end with. 

...and speaking of lunch, it was actually Provisions Company that caught our eye enough to want to venture over to Southport in the first place. We'd heard there was a certain lure surrounding this seafood spot, and it lived up to that local hype. There were lines out the door with an hour wait when we arrived and friendly instructions with a southern twang to grab a beer from the cooler with an "honor code system" while we wait. That or pull up a seat at the outdoor bar overlooking the inter-coastal waterway and eat there. Yes please!

It was one of those spots that specializes in doing a handful of menu options over and over and really well. While enjoying the buzz of the slammed lunch crowd (and a little bar buzz of our own), we relished in fresh peel & eat shrimp, grouper salad and all the sides fit for a low country boil.
If you couldn't guess already, we planned our Wilmington trip around the food too! Last summer we made a road trip out of a long weekend down to Kinston, North Carolina in hopes of eating at the restaurants of one of our favorite TV chefs, Vivian Howard. Being that Oak Island was so close to Wilmington where her 3rd restaurant, a pizza spot, is located we couldn't help but make the trip.

While we came for the pizza (and Benny's Big Time sure delivered), we stayed for the local shops, riverfront walk, magical side streets and good thrifting stops to be explored in and around Wilmington. The riverfront walk was especially beautiful.

It was just a fun area to walk aimlessly, stop into shops, hunt for records and grab a coffee (or ice cream!). It seemed like every little corner had something new to see or a path to follow.

I mentioned that I thought I'd never heard of Oak Island before, well it was on the drive between Wilmington and the island that we put a funny two and two together. I'd been talking to Tim about something I'd seen on the most recent episode of Teen Mom 2 (one of my guiltiest pleasures) when he asked me where they lived. I'd been talking about the cast member, Janelle, and upon a quick phone search realized she and her mom are from Oak Island (what!?). We laughed at the coincidence and it actually made us look at where we were staying through a new lens, wondering if we might catch a glimpse of the infamous Barb Evans around town.

We rounded out our week with a dinner date at the local pier and paid the $1 each to walk to the very end. Tim talked to the fishermen getting set up for a night of shark fishing and I peered out into the big blue abyss, thankful for the time together and hopeful for what new adventures may come.

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