Sunset Beach Travel Guide

Explore Sunset Beach, NC with this comprehensive tour guide that includes information on places to visit, hiking/biking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, local culture, safety and health, and transportation options.

Introduction to Sunset Beach

Located in the North Carolina Coastal Plain, Sunset Beach is a charming seaside town that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Known for its pristine beaches, rolling dunes, and scenic sunsets, Sunset Beach attracts visitors from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure-filled escape, Sunset Beach has something for everyone.

List of Places to Visit in Sunset Beach

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Ingram Planetarium: A state-of-the-art facility that offers educational programs on astronomy, space science, and technology.

  • Museum of Coastal Carolina: Features interactive exhibits that explore the natural and cultural history of the region.

  • Old Bridge Museum: Preserves the history of the iconic Sunset Beach bridge that once connected the island to the mainland.

Natural Attractions of Sunset Beach: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Bird Island: A nature preserve that houses diverse wildlife and offers beautiful hiking trails.

  • Sunset Beach Waterfront Park: A scenic park that features a fishing pier, picnic tables, and a playground.

  • Kindred Spirit Mailbox: A unique attraction that allows visitors to share their thoughts and stories by leaving messages inside the mailbox.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Sunset Beach

  • Sunset Beach Nature Trail: A 5-mile hiking trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

  • Sunset Beach Bridge Trail: A 2-mile biking trail that takes you across the iconic Sunset Beach bridge.

  • Bird Island Trail: A 1.5-mile hiking trail that offers beautiful views of the ocean and the marshes.

Best Things to Do in Sunset Beach: Activities and Tours

  • Sunset Beach Kayak Tour: Explore the beautiful coastal waters and experience the local marine life with a guided kayak tour.

  • Fishing Charters: Book a fishing charter to experience the thrill of catching some of the local species, including flounder, red drum, and trout.

  • Dolphin Watching Tours: Take a scenic boat tour to spot the playful dolphins that inhabit the waters around Sunset Beach.

Week-Long Itinerary for Sunset Beach

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit the Museum of Coastal Carolina
Day 2 Go on a Kayak Tour
Day 3 Explore Bird Island
Day 4 Fishing Charter Trip
Day 5 Take a Dolphin Watching Tour
Day 6 Relax on Sunset Beach
Day 7 Visit the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Food and Drink Scene of Sunset Beach

Must-Try Dishes

  • Calabash-style seafood: A local specialty that features fried fish, shrimp, and oysters.

  • Southern-style barbecue: Delicious Carolina-style pulled pork barbecue served with coleslaw and hushpuppies.

  • Freshly-baked pies: Try the sweet potato pie or the classic apple pie at one of the local bakeries.

Local Beverages

  • Craft Beer: Savor a local brew from the multiple craft breweries in the area.

  • Sweet Tea: Sip on the classic southern beverage, sweet tea, which can be found at most restaurants.

Where to Stay in Sunset Beach: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Sunset Beach Vacation Rentals: Offers a wide range of vacation rentals, including condos, townhomes, and beachfront villas.

  • The Sunset Inn: A cozy inn located just a short walk from Sunset Beach.

  • Sea Trail Resort: A luxurious resort that offers amenities like golf courses, swimming pools, and fine dining restaurants.

What to Buy in Sunset Beach: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Calabash Seafood Spices: Take a piece of Sunset Beach home with you by purchasing some of the delicious seafood seasoning in the local markets.

  • Beach-themed souvenirs: Buy a souvenir to remember your trip to Sunset Beach, like the iconic sunset picture or a beach towel.

Local Culture and Customs of Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is a laid-back coastal town that values community, outdoor recreation, and southern hospitality. The locals are friendly and welcoming, always happy to share their love for their town and its traditions. It’s customary to greet locals with a smile and have a chat with them, as it is a sign of respect and friendliness.

Best Time to Visit Sunset Beach

The best time to visit Sunset Beach is from May to September, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches are lively with tourists. The fall season between October and November is also a great time to visit if you prefer a quieter, more peaceful trip.

Do’s and Don’ts of Sunset Beach


  • Respect the local environment and wildlife.

  • Pick up your trash and dispose of it properly.

  • Be friendly and respectful to the locals.


  • Litter on the beach or in the water.

  • Ignore safety signage and warnings.

  • Disturb the local wildlife.

Safety and Health

Safety in Sunset Beach

  • Swim only in areas designated for swimming.

  • Pay attention to weather conditions and rip current warnings.

  • Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated when spending time outdoors.

Health in Sunset Beach

  • Be aware of poison ivy and poison oak in the surrounding parks and trails.

  • Watch out for ticks and take precautions against Lyme disease.

  • Avoid swimming in the ocean if you have an open wound or infection.

Getting to Sunset Beach: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Sunset Beach

  • Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) (22 miles)

  • Wilmington International Airport (ILM) (55 miles)

Bus Stations Near Sunset Beach

  • Greyhound Bus Lines (15 miles)

Other Options

  • Rent a car and explore the surrounding areas at your leisure.

  • Take a private shuttle or taxi from the airport to Sunset Beach.

How to Get Around in Sunset Beach

The best way to get around in Sunset Beach is by car since there is limited public transportation. Alternatively, you can rent a bike to explore the town or walk if you’re staying close to the beach.

Where to Go Next from Sunset Beach: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Myrtle Beach, SC: A popular tourist destination located just 30 minutes away from Sunset Beach.

  • Wilmington, NC: A historic port city located 1 hour away from Sunset Beach, featuring unique shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.


Sunset Beach is a beautiful coastal town that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and local culture. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventurous escape, Sunset Beach has something for everyone. From the pristine beaches and nature trails to the delicious seafood and southern hospitality, Sunset Beach is a must-visit destination on the East Coast.