As vacation time approaches, you may be craving sandy beaches and warm water. Why not spend a week or two at Sunset Beach? Located in southeastern North Carolina, Sunset Beach sits on one of the barrier islands, an area home to a rich history of shipwrecks and pirates. From luxury condos and rustic homes situated just minutes from the coastline, Sunset Beach vacation rentals are unforgettable—book a stay today. That said, here are the most exciting spots to visit in and around Sunset Beach.

1. Sunset Beach, North Carolina

Feel time start to slow down when you hit the city limits of this laid-back beach community. Spend your days walking on the beach or playing in the surf. Put on your shoes to explore the area’s nature preserve, Bird Island Reserve. To access the preserve, you need to walk up the beach or rent a boat to land on the beach. While visiting the nature preserve, be on the look out for loggerhead turtles that make their nests in the sand. To learn more about the stars you see in the clear night’s sky, stop by the Ingram Planetarium.

2. Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

A few minutes north up the Intercoastal Waterway from Sunset Beach is the small coastal community of Ocean Isle Beach. This is another relaxing family-friendly community designed for a relaxing vacation. Start your trip with a visit to the Museum of Coastal Carolina to learn more about the sea creatures and environment of North Carolina’s coast or spend your days hunting for seashells, biking around the town, and kayaking on the ocean.

3. Holden Beach, North Carolina

Just north of Sunset Beach on the next barrier island is Holden Beach. You can choose a vacation condo on the Atlantic Ocean or one with views of the Intercoastal Waterway. While spending time on the beach, keep your eyes open for turtles as the beach offers another popular nesting area for loggerhead turtles. After a hard day of relaxing and kicking back, take the family to dinner at Castaways Raw Bar and Grill for fresh seafood.

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4. Calabash, North Carolina

If eating out is your thing, then choose a vacation rental in Calabash, known as the Seafood Capital of the World. This coastal community has its own well-known style of preparing seafood called the Calabash Style, where everything is deep fried with special seasonings. After you’ve eaten your fill, enjoy the activities on the Calabash River, including fishing, boating, and taking one of the many ecotours.

5. Carolina Shores, North Carolina

Save a little money on vacation rentals in the Carolina Shores area a short ways inland. While not directly on the beach, you can load up the family in the car and arrive at the beach in less than 20 minutes. Enjoy days filled with biking, shopping, and golfing. Thistle Golf Club and Pearl Golf Links are just two of the exceptional golf courses in the area for you to get out on the links.

6. Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina

Move southward along the coast and cross into South Carolina for a stay at the popular Cherry Grove Beach. This area features beach front condos with balconies and views that let you see for miles. Fun filled days include playing in the water, horseback riding on the beach, and taking a boat tour to see the dolphins. While visiting the area, take the family for a stroll on the iconic Cherry Grove Beach Pier.

7. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Located south of Sunset Beach, North Myrtle Beach offers you the hustle and bustle of a busy beach destination. Choose a trendy condo along the beach in one of the high rise buildings. Each building offers its own amenities, such as indoor pools, restaurants, fitness rooms, and lazy rivers. Enjoy sun filled days on the beach, shopping in the downtown area, or playing golf. Take the family to Alligator Adventure for a live show of these large reptiles and an up close look.

8. Tidewater Plantation, North Carolina

In this planned community, you’ll find everything you need for a great vacation. Start by selecting a condo or large family home to make room for everyone. From bike trails throughout the community to pools and tennis courts, you can spend your days enjoying your favorite past times. The community even has its own award-winning golf course, the Tidewater Golf Club.

9. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If you like to be in the center of all the activity, then find a space in Myrtle Beach as your home base. Spend your days on the beach, exploring the Boardwalk at the Beach for a little shopping, and visiting Myrtle Waves for some fun water slides. After a dinner of fresh seafood, take the family to Family Kingdom Amusement Park for some thrilling rides.

10. Atlantic Beach, South Carolina

Just a couple minutes south of Myrtle Beach sits the small coastal town of Atlantic Beach. This area offers a slower pace while still within easy driving distance of all the activities of Myrtle Beach. For a unique experience, enjoy a tour with J&L Kayak Ecoventures on the Waccamaw River with a stop at a nature preserve on an island.

11. Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Commune with nature and explore the unspoiled sand dunes and tidal pools at Murrells Inlet. Spend your time walking around Huntington Beach State Park with its protected sand dunes and wildlife. At Brookgreen Gardens, your kids will squeal in delight at the zoo attached to the gardens.

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