I likely would have never known about Bald Head if it weren't for Holland Brown. Holland is a sorority sister of mine and her family has been vacationing on BHI for about twenty years. A while back, her boyfriend, Aaron, proposed to her on the beach at Bald Head, and it seemed only fitting that they take the time necessary to plan a perfect spring wedding on the island.
Weddings are popular on Bald Head and it's not unusual to see a gussied up golf cart.
When Holland told me all the wonderful things about Bald Head, I decided it would make a great place to do a travel writing piece on. After all, if Holland and her family had enjoyed vacationing there for twenty years, there was a pretty good chance a lot of other families would love to make memories on the island as well. It was now Traveling Ink's job to tell them all about it.
The first thing one has to accomplish when intendeing to stay most anywhere is accomodations. When it comes to Bald Head Island, a house or condo rental is the way to go. Hotels are not in the mix on BHI. I did some research and found what looked to be the main property management company on the island, Bald Head Island Limited Property Management Company. They were able to set us up with a nice rental home named "Island Retreat" on the south side of the island and their full-featured website was a great help in planning the rest of our trip.
Island Retreat courtesy of Bald Head Island Limited.
We eagerly anticipated April's arrival as we knew the Bald Head Island weekend and a friend's wedding were close. Thankfully, the island is only about a 3.5 to 4 hour drive from Charleston depending on stops. We headed north up the coast of South Carolina, through Myrtle Beach, to North Carolina's border. Our last leg was through the lovely little town of Southport, where we recommend the pizza at Dry Street Pub and Pizza and a hot beverage at Port City Java.
One of the most unique things about a trip to BHI, is that you can't drive there. You can't drive once you get there either (unless we are talking about driving a golf cart). Like a trip to the Bahamas, you have to take a boat. Thankfully, the ferry ride to Bald Head is quicker than any trip to the Bahamas. Guests leave their vehicles in a parking area, attendants stow their luggage, and the ferry takes them over to their little island paradise in about 25 minutes. It may sound silly, but the fact that you have to take the ferry to get over to the island helps kick you into vacation mode. For those of us that struggle to really relax or leave our work life behind, everything from the scenery, to the guest service, to our temporary island digs helps ease us into time away comfortably. For more details on the ferry, house rentals, and all things logistics, click here.
The interior of "Island Retreat", our rental home for the weekend. © 2014 Audra L. Gibson
Once on the island, a tram took us to the front door of our rental home. The driver even kindly took my bags upstairs for me (I tend to pack too heavy of a suitcase). Once in the house, I realized this would be a very different feel to a vacation staying in a hotel or even a friend's home. The rental house environment immeditaely shifted our accomodations from a small hotel room you want to leave all day to a home base where we could happily cook breakfast in the morning, return for lunch, and hang out with friends or watch a movie in the evening. Although we didn't have any kids with us, I also thought of how convenient it would be for families to be able to put the kids to bed earlier in the evening without mandating the adults to early bed times as well. The house gave us the feeling of being on vacation while maintaining so many of the comforts of home. To check out the houses for rent on Bald Head, click here.
Ibis sighting near BHI. © 2014 Audra L. Gibson
Even though our accomodations were spectacular, we were eager to depart Saturday morning on an adventure. Our first stop was the Bald Head Island Conservancy. One of the things you can't ignore is the wild beauty of Bald Head. The island is serious about its conservation and preservation, and we had arranged to take an Eco Tour with one of the Environmental Educators. Kendyll Collins was our guide on the tour, and everyone in our group was very impressed with her and her breadth of knowledge. We asked a lot of questions, and she had answers. She took us for a tour of their facility where we got to hold starfish and pet horseshoe crabs, and then we headed into the great outdoors where Kendyll took us to multiple environments from the marsh to the maritime forest. One of our writers, Juliann Terrell, wrote a blog about the tour and all the cool things we got to see. Give the Conservancy Blog a read to find out what kind of wildlife we got to see (teaser: it included an alligator named "Fluffy").
Yellow Bellied Sliders take in some sun on our Eco Tour. © 2014 Audra L. Gibson
Kayaking through the creeks off Bald Head Island © 2014 Audra L. Gibson
Once we'd gotten some lunch, we hopped back into our golf cart and headed toward the Bald Head Island Marina on the way to Riverside Adventure Company & Sail Shop. The owners of the company met on BHI and have been there for decades. They rent everything from golf carts, to bikes, to beach umbrellas, but what we were really interested in was their outdoor adventure options. They arranged some kayak rentals for us as well as a sailing excursion. I have been in charge of steering a kayak many times in my life, but I had not ever been in charge of steering a 26' sailboat. I got to do both that afternoon. Read all about our Sailing Adventure on Bald Head here (there's also a video of dolphins).
Audra Gibson, Holland Brown, Juliann Terrell, and Denee Warren enjoy the view on Bald Head.
As if the day hadn't been wonderful enough, it was topped off that evening with a wonderful cocktail party after the wedding rehearsal. We enjoyed an exquisitely catered dinner (aka we ate way too much, but it was worth it) while enjoying a view of the ocean from the balcony of the groom's parents' rental house. We all slept really well that night.
One of the many choices for dinner, we made more than one trip to the carving station.
The rest of the weekend was filled climbing the stairs to Old Baldy Lighthouse, lunch at Delphina Cantina, and, most importantly, celebrating the bride and the groom as they got married. It was a beautiful wedding and we danced into the evening at the Bald Head Island Club. It was the first time I've ever driven past a croquet course in a parade of golf carts to get to a reception.
Two things became evident immediately once we were on the island. The first was that we didn't have enough time there. There were so many other things to explore on the island...more adventures to be had, more relaxing to do. Bald Head was fun for a weekend, but would have been amazing for a week. The second thing we realized was that we just didn't want to leave. Here's to hoping we'll be seeing Bald Head Island again sometime soon.
Read our other Blogs about Bald Head Island: