Topsail Island NC is a 26 mile long barrier island situated off the coast of southeastern North Carolina offering pristine white sand beaches and gorgeous blue-green water. With a population of only 500 residents, Topsail Island is a charming destination that still somehow manages to preserve its natural beauty and features three fun-filled seaside communities, Surf City, North Topsail Beach, and Topsail Beach. The lack of commercialization provides a peaceful environment.Topsail Island has mass appeal and easy access from the mainland. Just off U.S. Highway 17, the island is conveniently located about half an hour’s drive from both Jacksonville and Wilmington. Prior to World War II, the only access to Topsail Island was by boat, but today there are two high rise bridges. The temperature is mild year-round and the waters are relatively warm, even after the summer season.
Expect to find many seashells from the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy water sports like boating, fishing and kayaking along the Intercoastal Waterway. You might also have the chance to meet the popular Loggerhead Sea Turtles that come close to the dunes to lay their eggs.
Interestingly, according to local folklore, the island derives its name Topsail (pronounced Tops'l) from the area’s 18th century pirate ships. The pirates would hide their ships behind the island in the channels, hoping to ambush passing ships. The pirate ships topmost sails were visible above the landscape, leading merchant ships to shout out to crew to watch for top sails. That seafaring heritage continues on in many of Topsail Island’s towns and traditions. The name topsail actually came from Topsail Inlet. This inlet's name can be found on early navigational charts with the other Topsail Inlet located in Beaufort, N.C. Soon after J.G. Anderson developed the southernmost end of the island and named it New Topsail Beach, the island has been called Topsail.
Rumors abound that Black Beard hid some of his treasure on Topsail Island. Some say that Blackbeard gifted Topsail Island with his greatest possession... his buried treasure. There's talk around these parts that in Topsail Beach there is a supposed bottomless hole, which the locals call the Gold Hole. Legend has it that in the mid-1900s, a team of treasure hunters came to Topsail from up north and identified that hole as the hiding place of Blackbeard’s treasure. They spent weeks in the Gold Hole working into the late hours of the night. But one morning, they were gone without a trace. Disappeared. Vanished. It’s as if they had never been on Topsail Island. Some say the Gold Hole is no longer, as the treasure of Blackbeard was found and left on that summer night. But is it really?
Prior to World War II, the only access to Topsail Island was by boat. Area residents frequently made this short trip and picnicked on the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Local farmers are said to have driven their livestock across the waterways to graze on wild grass. Treasure hunters searched for Blackbeard’s infamous buried treasure throughout the maritime forests which covered the island. During the early part of the 1900's a few structures, less than a dozen, were built along the sound and were used as shelter for fishing trips and summer vacations.
At the beginning of World War II the U.S. Army built a large temporary anti-aircraft training base at Holly Ridge and took possession of the island. They built the road from Camp David to the sound and installed a floating bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway where the present bridge is located. They also erected training facilities and support buildings in what is now the Surf City business district.
Immediately after the war, the Navy took possession of the island and began a joint project with Johns Hopkins University known as Operation Bumblebee which was an early guided missile development program. Over 200 missiles were test fired. The missile assembly building is located on the sound at Channel Blvd. and Flake Ave. in the Topsail Beach business district which is now used as a museum and meeting center. The launch pad is used as a patio for the Jolly Roger Motel. Several missile tracking towers still stand along the island. The testing program was dismantled in 1948 and the island was given back to the original owners. The roads and bridge were left intact and so began the development of the island.
Without huge hotels or glitzy attractions, Topsail is a place to enjoy the beach in its purest, simplest form—without the crowds or chaos of some popular coastal towns. If your idea of paradise involves long days spent relaxing in the sun, lazily casting a line or catching up on your to-read list, you’ll love the island’s private, cozy cottages and beachside retreats just steps from the ocean. Spend a rainy day at the Missiles and More Museum, where exhibits explore the secret missile testing program in Topsail during WWII and the pirate lore behind the beach’s name."
Topsail Island enjoys moderate temperatures for most of the year and relatively warm water temperatures, so outdoor aquatic activity is available nearly year-round. There are a number of events highlighting Topsail Island’s less well-known gems, such as its local vineyards and artist community. The northern portion of Topsail Island is called North Topsail Beach, the center section is Surf City and the southern section is Topsail Beach.
At the northernmost point of Topsail Island lies North Topsail Beach, with 900 full-time residents enjoying the town’s many activities. A favorite amenity is North Topsail Beach’s bike and pedestrian path that runs from Town Hall to the beach park.
Topsail Beach has a welcoming, generous spirit that attracts families, seniors and tourists alike. Preserving the area’s natural environment and beauty is a top priority so high-rise developments are prohibited. The town’s gorgeous beach isn’t its only draw. An excellent fishing pier and a bevvy of restaurants, gift stores and a missile museum keep residents and tourists entertained and active throughout the year.
Surf City is the largest town on Topsail Island and is the home to a variety of activities, retail shops and amenities. Boat tours, kayaking, surfing, playing on the beach or enjoying a free concert are just a few favorite activities in the town.
Topsail Island offers prime waterfront properties in all three of its communities, on the Atlantic Ocean side as well as on its wetlands side. Waterfront condominiums, single family homes and grand $1 million estates are all available along Topsail Island’s 26 miles.
Property on Topsail Island is generally considered more affordable than in other coastal communities and has regularly appreciated over the years. With its superb influx of visitors needing housing during the tourist season and its affordable market, Topsail Island is considered an excellent investment.
For more information about real estate on Topsail Island, North Carolina or to contact a top selling Realtor with local knowledge of homes for sale on Topsail Island send an email to one of our real estate agents via our Contact page
One of our finest neighborhoods is Carolina Forest, just outside of the city on Highway 501. Carolina Forest boasts one of the finest schools in the south - one of five SC district schools that surpass the national SAT average. If you're looking for the perfect "Leave it to Beaver" community, check out the Carolina Forest Real Estate pages and learn all about this city within a c