Unpretentious, familiar, and always welcoming, Sunset Beach feels like a nostalgic nod to a simpler time
Even the name of the town is breathtaking: Sunset Beach. If you close your eyes you can almost see the setting sun kiss the horizon, leaving behind a lipstick stain of pinks and purples across the sand as it dips into the Atlantic. Without ever having been there you can probably imagine the endearing, under-the-radar coastal getaway, despite the national and global praises it’s garnered as of late. Sunset Beach. It echoes the days when family beach culture was king, inviting you to come experience a new iteration of a bygone era.
The secret is out about Sunset beach, having been ranked number 5 on National Geographic’s 2017 “21 Best Beaches in the World: unspoiled large beaches, unencumbered by high rises and boardwalks, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, unique points of interest, and elegant waterfront houses on the beach and the mainland. The bragging rights don’t end there. Sunset Beach was also selected as one of Trip Advisor’s 2017 “15 Best Budget-Friendly Vacation Ideas by the Beach.
Oh, Sunset Beach starts out as a vacation destination all right, but by the end of the trip, visitors are looking for property. Why? Because everything about this sleepy coastal town makes it feel like home. From its independently-owned shops and restaurants, engaged community, outdoor activities, affordable economy, moderate year-round temperatures, volunteer opportunities, abundant near-by medical centers, and of course, the beach, it has everything for those looking to relocate or retire. This pocket-sized beach community is home to nearly 4,000 property owners in 6.3 square miles of spectacular coastal landscape. Incorporated as a town in 1963, this remote, southern-most barrier island beach town is the ideal relocation destination.
Truly a remote destination, Sunset Beach residents like it that way. Myrtle Beach and Wilmington are the closest “big cities”—with a forty minute give-or-take ride south or north. Sunset Beach is a cozy niche between the entertainment, shopping outlets, and tourist attractions in Myrtle Beach and the historic district, performing arts center, and lively riverfront in downtown Wilmington. But above all, Sunset Beach is a place to reconnect with the natural world and the community. It’s a much needed relaxed lifestyle for those nostalgic for simpler times.
Most of course, come for the beaches and scenery. Walk a mile from the West end beach access point and you’ll find the Kindred Spirit mailbox full of journals with musings from visitors past. Continue on to Bird Island Reserve’s pristine sandy white beaches, high natural dunes, and more than 1,200 acres of beautiful salt marsh and tidal creeks. Make a U-turn to the east towards the 900-foot Sunset Beach Pier for fishing or take a break from the sun under the gazebo.
On the mainland, visitors won’t be disappointed either. Stroll down the flower-lined sidewalks of Queen Anne Street and visit local shops and businesses. Then have a seat and a refreshing drink on Fibber McGee’s patio while listening to the summer sounds of the Wednesday night outdoor concerts.
It won’t take long before you find yourself gently swaying in one of the many wooden swings under the shade of stunning hundred-year-old oak trees in the Sunset Beach Town Park, watching sailboats migrate along the Intracoastal Waterway. Or grabbing some fresh produce or handcrafted designs from local artisans at the Waterfront Market on Thursdays.
Pick your paradise: Island or mainland. They’re both created equal here in Sunset Beach, and wrapped up into a single exceptional coastal community. The climate, the attractions, the lower cost of living, the way of life—all these reasons are tempting visitors from all over the country to think of Sunset Beach as home.