Have you heard of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina? This dreamy beach destination on the southern border of North Carolina was recently ranked as one of the top places in the US that people would consider traveling to right now. And while we realize that choosing a family vacation during a pandemic can be challenging, a beach destination like Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina is a great choice because of all the open air and space for everyone in the family to enjoy themselves. Here's everything you need to know to plan the perfect family vacation to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.
Driving from Raleigh, the commute to Ocean Isle Beach takes about three hours. If you are flying in, the closest airports are in Wilmington, North Carolina or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Traveling cross-country, you are able to head down Highway I-40 east until you see the coast, then veer another quick 45 minutes down highway 17. You will feel an instant sense of relaxation and security once you cross over the bridge to the island.
READ MORE: "Family Vacation Guide to North Carolina"
Once on the island, you will immediately notice the small-town feel. There is one putt-putt course, one pier, one playground and plenty of beach to social distance. The town just built a brand-new outdoor amphitheater, splash park and playground for kids that should be available for use in June 2020.
Book this three-bedroom A-frame house close to the beach. It is the perfect spot, with ample parking alongside the house, and a block away to beach access. The house is so unique and has a hot tub on the bottom floor for the whole family to enjoy.
If you have a boat and want to be on the canal, this four-bedroom waterway rental is ideal for a small family or group of friends. Step outside and enjoy coffee while watching the boats pass by.
For larger rentals, we love this vacation house that sleeps 22 people. It was recently renovated and the entire family will love the backyard, which has a pool, hot tub, diving board, slides and ping-pong table. This is one of my all-time favorite houses on the island.
The Winds Resort Beach Club
The Winds Resort Beach Club has oceanfront rooms available and features four-, five and six-bedroom resort cottages with full kitchen, living room and large whirlpool spa. Rates include complimentary full hot breakfast buffet and use of all amenities, including three pools (one indoor), whirlpools and more.
The Fish House
Located on the island, the Fish House is a great place to enjoy a meal inside or overlooking the waterway. They have an amazing sushi menu and various fried seafood options that your kids will love. Below the restaurant is a fun sandbox where your kids are able to search for shark teeth while you relax with a frozen Miami vice.
Located right beside the Fish House is Sharkys, where you can enjoy dining outdoors on the dock. They have a wide range of American style food (I love their pizza).
If you are still nervous to dine in the crowds, considering hiring a local private company like SeaSaltChefs to cater your own menu in the comfort of your house. Find them on Instagram @seasaltchefs and book a dinner for four people to as many as 25. Menu items range from filets to mahi mahi to a Low Country boil.
The best beach spots with the most parking are also where Community Centers are located. Look for access by Raeford Street or First Street.
Head to the Pier
Pay $1 to walk the pier, fish and overlook the beach. Inside the pier, you will also find an arcade, ice cream and Sunset Slush spot that the kids will love. Located across the street, you can find the putt-putt golf that is open until late in the evening.
Hit the Golf Courses
Our favorite courses located within a 30-minute drive of OIB: Oyster Bay, Tide Water and Leopards Chase. The kids love riding in the golf cart and learning how to play.
Rent a Golf Cart for the Week
Find local shops like Cart Cart Company, which supplies weekly rentals for getting around the island easily with the family. All the beach accesses have designated golf cart spots.
Ride Bikes around the Island
There are secret biking trails off the beaten path on the north end of OIB. Or you can navigate to the south end and hit the tennis courts.
By Becca Ingle
Editor's Note: If you're planning a trip anywhere right now, you should check local travel restrictions for the destination you are hoping to visit, consider warnings from the State Department and CDC and be prepared for restrictions that could make travel challenging. Travelers should also take precautions to keep themselves and others safe.