North Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Topsail Beach comprise a 26-mile long barrier island. It is a vacation paradise that surrounds you with beautiful beaches, interesting restaurants, quaint shops, a general store, and a fishing pier. The marina and boat ramp allow access to participate in boating and other water activities, too. Choose from waterfront vacation rentals where seagulls and breaking waves greet you every morning. Vacation rentals farther inland offer privacy in secluded forest areas or closer to urban centers. To help you decide, here’s a list of the top 12 Topsail Beach vacation rental locations.

1. Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Topsail Beach is a deep-water sound with excellent fishing from the pier and charter fishing boats. Enjoy swimming, surfing, and basking in the sun or browse the gift shops or hang out at the bookstore and coffee shop. For a little indoor fun, the Topsail Beach Skating Rink plays music on a record player for a nostalgic experience in roller skating.

2. Surf City, North Carolina

With a name like Surf City, surfing is pretty important. Surf City Surf School offers lessons that include boards and free tee shirts. You can help the kids learn about saving sea turtles at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The center welcomes visitors to see their facilities and the turtles that live there.

3. North Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Imagine stepping off your deck onto the warm sand of North Topsail Beach and strolling down to take a leisurely swim in the ocean. After you soak up some sun, you can take a boat tour to look for sea turtles, dolphins, ospreys, and pelicans. Tiki Tours may even show you a pirate or two. Or, you may rent kayaks and enjoy self-guided tours.

4. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach offers plenty to do from pirate-led treasure hunts to surfing competitions. It’s a place active families love to go to the crystal blue water and beautiful beach. You can fish from the famous Johnnie Mercer’s Pier or browse for bargains at beach boutiques and surf shops. Just 15 minutes away, the Battleship North Carolina is moored in Wilmington. She is open for public tours every day of the year.

5. Topsail, North Carolina

Simple, coastal living is what you find in Topsail where you can enjoy sightseeing along the back roads and waterways or head for the excitement of the beach in just minutes from your door. For some laid-back fun, Patio Playground Putt-Putt Golf offers a course that even the little ones can enjoy. If you want to pursue indoor interests, you can find exciting exhibits at the Missiles and More Museum.

6. Sloop Point, North Carolina

Sloop Point is a quiet waterfront village on the Intracoastal Waterway. A significant historical landmark, Sloop Point Plantation was constructed around 1726, and it is the oldest frame building in the state of North Carolina. Nearby, the Holly Shelter Game Land is a 48,795-acre tract of land available for hiking between January and September. Wildlife you may encounter include deer, rabbits, turkeys, and quail.

7. Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

The folks in Sneads Ferry welcome visitors to their quaint village with its maritime ambiance. The locale lends itself to fishing, sailing, and boating, and there are several marinas in the area. Southern Belle Excursions offers daily sightseeing and dinner cruises.

8. Holly Ridge, North Carolina

You can make it a wet and wild adventure when you stay in Holly Ridge. Makin Waves offers jet ski dolphin tours that take your family along the Intracoastal Waterway and out into the Atlantic. It’s up to you how fast you want to take the waves.

9. Bayshore, North Carolina

Located on the located on the tidal creeks of the Intracoastal Waterway, Bayshore is about a mile from Figure Eight Island. It’s a quiet community that puts you within 15 minutes of all of the shopping and dining amenities of downtown Wilmington. The area offers a number of interesting museums, including the Wilmington Railroad Museum. The train enthusiasts in your family will love the 20 working model trains and the 100-year-old steam locomotive. There’s also a Thomas the Tank Train play area for the kids.

10. Castle Hayne, North Carolina

Families who enjoy biking can take their bikes with them to Castle Hayne. The Blue Clay Bike Park features seven miles of single-track trail. It consists of hilly areas and varying terrains over packed clay and dirt tracks. McFaye’s Farm makes a great outing for the kids to pet and feeds the animals. Hayrides are available on open farm days.

11. Rocky Point, North Carolina

A quiet little place in the country gives you a place to relax and soothe your jangled nerves, and you can find it in Rocky Point. The Grand Oaks Driving Range offers a place to practice your swing without having to schedule a tee time. The Bellhammon Tract is a wetlands area that features the Venus Fly Trap that you can forage to take home with you.

12. Hampstead, North Carolina

Hampstead is 15 minutes from the ocean and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of urban living. Picture your family enjoying boating, fishing, and easy access to peaceful waterways. Local thrift shops and antique shops offer opportunities for browsing and bargain hunting. If you’re looking for a tee time, the Olde Pointe Gold and Country Club features five sets of tees for golfers of all skill levels.