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Water Recreation on Topsail Island

Buffeted by changing tides and ocean breezes, Topsail Island is a haven for fisherman, boaters, and surfers alike. If you take a walk on the beach in the early mornings, you might find a lone surfer catching a wave or a weathered fisherman patiently waiting for a bite, his line reaching deep into the sea.


Bring your Boat

Topsail Island is the perfect destination for boaters, who enjoy the pristine maritime ecosystem of the Topsail Sound and the excitement of the open ocean, accessed by the inlets on either end of the island.


Topsail Sound is an estuary sheltered by the island, where Virginia Creek meets the briny ocean water. Here, you'll find marshes near the edge of the coast made of cattails and bulrushes and maritime forests of cypress and swamp maple. Kayakers and paddleboarders navigate these waters at high tide, experiencing spectacular sunrises that tint the water gold in the morning, interrupted only by the occasional hum of a motorboat gliding through the Intercostal Waterway. Visitors will find ospreys and herons fishing waters that teem with flounder, Spanish mackerel, red drum, and mullets. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a manatee, a loggerhead turtle, or a bottle-nosed dolphin!


The Intercostal Waterway is a favorite for boaters. The long, sinuous channel is easy to navigate and perfect for experienced sailors and first-time boat owners alike. Although this collection of waterways runs all the way from Norfolk, Virginia to the Florida Keys, our little slice of heaven is perfect for an afternoon out on the water.


While you’re out on the boat, try visiting Sears Landing for a quick bite to eat. Sears Landing is the only restaurant on the island that offers piers for customers to arrive by boat. Enjoy fresh fried fish or oysters overlooking the water, or grab some breakfast before a day out on the water. If you’re in New River Inlet, Blackbeard’s Waterfront Bar and Restaurant in Snead’s Ferry also has space for you to dock your boat and dine in.


Many homes on the sound have access to private boat ramps. Here, at Starfish Rentals and Realty, we offer a variety of vacation homes with boat access and even rent boat slips! Three public boat accesses are also available across the island, located in Topsail Beach ($10 per launch), North Topsail Beach at the end of Shrimp Lady Lane, and Surf City at Soundside Park.


Take a Cruise

Feeling landlocked? Make unforgettable memories aboard the Belle of Topsail, a red-and-white painted replica of a turn-of-the-century riverboat, beloved by children and adults alike. End your day with dinner and drinks, as you cruise down the Intercoastal Waterway or experience adventure on the high seas, and face the scoundrels of the pirate ship, the Raven If you’re looking to cruise for a day in the boat you’ve always dreamed of owning, rent one of Mike People’s fleet of boats. From a 17 foot skiff to a pontoon boat, your experienced captain will guide you through the waterways and even will teach you to pilot the craft through the local waterways. You can also book a trip on Tiki Tours or one of the many kayaking and paddleboarding tours available on the island.


Fishermen of all ages can enjoy the open seas on one of Topsail’s many fishing charters. Whether you’re looking to hook Bonita or Billfish, booking a day-long expedition with an experienced captain is the perfect way to catch yourself something spectacular for dinner.


Paddle or Row

One of the best ways to see the island, however, is by kayak or paddleboard. Outdoor sports shops like Topsail Boat Rentals, 50 Surf Shop, and Herrings Outdoor Sports offer rentals of single and double kayaks as well as stand-up paddleboards. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there’s no better way to explore all the hidden islands and inlets of the Topsail Sound than by seeking them out yourself, paddle in hand.


You can rent through one of Topsail Island’s many shops, have a craft delivered to your location, or rent through our agency when you book your house! Rentals are booked on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis! Take the kids on a family excursion in double paddleboats or get in an early-morning workout on your own, when you rent a Soundside vacation home with Starfish Rentals and Realty.


Looking for a special glimpse of our local wildlife or just afraid you’ll swamp your kayak? Book a kayak tour with Paddle NC or one of the island’s many outdoor sports shops, for a guided adventure tour or lessons led by a certified instructor.


Surf’s Up!

No visit to Topsail Island is complete without spotting a surfer braving the waves, sometimes even in the stormiest conditions. The warm waters of Southeastern North Carolina draw surfers, who enjoy the water year-round. Surf shops can be found dotting the island, and don’t be surprised if you see surfboards strapped to the roofs of cars and the sides of bikes, or partially sunk into the sand on the beach.


Be sure to join the fun by renting your own surfboard at surf shops like Berts, On Shore, or 50 South. While you're at the shop, be sure to get the surf report and find out what the waves will be like for the rest of the week. Surf City Surf School (and most outdoor sports shops) offer lessons for both children and adults. Book a private lesson or attend a Daily Shred lesson and learn from the pros. You might just find your new favorite sport on your summer vacation!


Whether you can surf or just enjoy watching others shred, don’t miss the annual Earth and Surf Fest held in July, in North Topsail Beach. The annual festival celebrates the environment and includes a surf competition, a stand-up paddleboard race, live entertainment, and a 5K run on the beach!