Category Archives: Things To Do In Topsail NC

Surf City Fishing Pier – It’s that time of year!

by Donna Byrd

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that is not fish they are after.” Henry David  Thoreau

“There ain’t but one time to go fishin’, and that’s whenever you can.”     Diron Talbert

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Fall is the season for fishing here in Sneads Ferry and Topsail Island. And with that in mind, on a warm and sunny Thursday afternoon in November, I decided to visit the Surf City Ocean Pier. With all the rain we’ve had recently, I couldn’t resist the urge to get out in the beautiful weather before it turned cold. What better way was there to spend an afternoon than on a pier with the sun bearing down on your back, the wind in your face and the sea whipping up white caps underneath your feet? I headed down the island to find the pier.

FullSizeRender (1)I’ve never been much of a fisherman but my granddaddy was. He had a small boat he’d take out into the coastal waters of North Carolina. Spending the evening going through his fishing gear and tackle box, he’d go to bed really early and get up at three o’clock in the morning to head “down to the coast.” He’d come home about “dark thirty” with his cooler loaded down with ice and fish and then proceed to clean them on a special “cleaning table” he had built on the back of his property. My grandmother wouldn’t clean them but she sure could cook them!  I loved it when she would call our house and say, “We’re cooking up a mess of fish that Luther caught yesterday.  Y’all come over, we’re having a fish fry.” Those are some of the best memories of my childhood.

Upon arriving at the pier, I realized that I had to park down the street. The parking lots around the pier area were full and cars lined both sides of the street. If all of those people were fishing I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was going to find me a fishing story!

FullSizeRender (3)Hungry, I remembered that I had read that the grill at the pier was known for its hamburgers. I ordered one and chatted with the friendly clerk behind the counter. She gave me a bit of the pier’s history.

Surf City Ocean Pier was the first pier built on Topsail Island in 1948. In 1973, a resident from Smithfield, NC, Edwin Lore, bought the landmark pier and it’s been in his family since then. Over the years it had weathered many storms and hurricanes but in 1996 it was destroyed by Hurricane Fran. The Lore family rebuilt it and in August of 1997 it reopened to the relief and joy of local and vacationing fishermen.

FullSizeRender (9)The pier is nine hundred and thirty-seven feet long with a forty foot octagon shaped deck at the end. It has two large fish cleaning stations with fresh, running water on it and there is lots of lighting for night fishing.  Looking around me, I noticed that the place was a fisherman’s paradise, chock full of fishing equipment, tackle and had a good selection of bait. You could buy souvenirs in the gift area. There was even a record board mounted on the back wall, showing the largest fish ever caught off the pier. The records were impressive!

FullSizeRender (10)My cheeseburger was ready and I headed out to the dining area outside. It was a nice, shady area that overlooked a little garden filled with whimsical signs, fountains and flowers. What a lovely surprise! I sat at an umbrellaed table and just for a moment, had a sensory overload: ocean, sea breeze, gulls laughing, waves crashing and the smell of a good burger wafting up to tantalize me. Wait a minute. Was this heaven?

An old fellow shuffled down from the pier and sat down heavily in a chair near me. He had a blue cooler with a fishing pole attached to it. Looking tired he settled back in his seat and I could see that he was resting. I couldn’t help but start a conversation with him.

“Did you catch anything,” I asked. “Well,” he said. “I got me two blue fish but somebody gave those to me.  The most thing I caught was some fresh air.” He laughed when he said that and shook his head. “Yeah, got me some fresh air and two fish. That’s about it for me today. My sciatic nerve is bothering me. Pain all down my leg. Done all I can do for today.” I thought that for someone in pain, he still looked content and happy.

I asked if I could see his fish and he opened the cooler and seemed just as proud of them as if he had caught them himself. I wanted to know more about this “old timer.”

“Do you mind if I ask you your name?”FullSizeRender (11)

“No, my name is Clarence.”

“Clarence, my name is Donna and I write blogs for Treasure Realty. Today, I’m writing about this pier. Is it OK if I mention you in it?”

“No. I don’t mind,” he smiled. “A blog, huh?”

“Yes. You can be famous to somebody reading my blog,” I laughed.

“Are you a local, Clarence?  You live around here?”

“Well, I live in Wilmington but this is where I like to come to fish.”

“How long have you been coming here?”

“About fifteen years.”

“Wow.  That’s a long time. What is it about this pier that makes you want to come all the way from Wilmington just to fish here?”

“I like it because it’s clean. The one I used to go to in Wilmington has a bar above it and after a while, people get too foul-mouthed. When they drink, they end up saying what’s in their hearts. I don’t like that. This place is clean, no alcohol.  It’s a good place.”

I shook Clarence’s hand and told him I’m glad he liked coming to Surf City Pier. I wished him a good day and told him I hoped his leg would stop hurting. He sat there, grinning. I could see that just being there made him happy.

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I decided it was time to “walk the planks” and headed on up to the pier. It was loaded with people! They were mainly standing on the left, the northeast side. I asked someone why everyone was standing on that side. “The fish up north are headed down south to the warmer waters. We’re trying to catch them as they migrate.” That made sense to me. I supposed that in the springtime, they would fish from the right side of the pier as the fish headed back up north.

As I walked toward the end of the pier, I saw one fisherman after another, pull fish from the ocean; blues, spot, black drum, trout and flounder. There was such a happy spirit on the planks. At the octagon shaped deck on the end, I noticed that most of the fishermen there were seated with their buddies, talking and laughing, while their poles were stationed by the edge, waiting for a nibble or bite. These folks knew how to enjoy a beautiful day!FullSizeRender

Coming back towards the tackle and bait shop, I realized I had never seen so many blue coolers in one place. They almost formed a line down the nine hundred and thirty-seven feet of wooden planks. I stopped and asked one of the men if I could look inside his cooler. He proudly showed me his catch of the day: a cooler full of some flat, brownish flounder. I could imagine a fish fry for his family in the near future.

The day was gorgeous and the fish were biting. The breeze was stiff and the American flag hoisted up over the pier was unfurled and stiff in the wind. I realized I had let my worries fly away with the breeze just as these happy folks had and that I had picked up another thing that was in abundance on the pier: hope. There was so much hope and expectancy in the people fishing that it was contagious.  No wonder Clarence liked to fish here.FullSizeRender (2)

If you want to experience some good fishing and clear your head of worries, I’d recommend a visit to the Surf City Ocean Pier. Oh yeah. Bring your hope with you and if you’re running short of that, you’ll just catch some there along with a lot of fresh air!

 The Surf City Ocean Pier is located at:

112 South Shore Drive Surf City, NC 28445

Telephone number: 910-328-3521

www.surfcityoceanpier.com

Surf City’s Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar – Where Coffee and Community Come Together

by Donna Byrd

 

“Coffee and friends are the perfect blend.”   Something a wise person once said.

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While driving down the beach road on Topsail Island this morning I had a brilliant idea. I spotted a cheerful little patio tucked away in a small shopping area and saw that it belonged to Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar. I remember my cousin Linda, a long time resident of Topsail Island,  telling me when I moved to the area, that the best cup of coffee on Topsail Island was in that shop. I figured it was time to go in and try a cup to see if she was right!

As soon as I walked into the building, the wonderful aroma of coffee greeted me like an old friend. I took a quick look around the place and noticed that there was a small arrangement of cloth covered tables by the counter and to the left there was a large space that could have been anyone’s comfortable living room. There were several groupings of couches and chairs that begged me to come “and make myself at home.” I was groovin’ on the vibe!

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I walked up to the counter and introduced myself to the friendly looking lady behind it. She told me her name was “Kari” and that she was the owner of the coffee bar. I explained to her that I was writing a blog for vacationers and newcomers to the area that would give coffee and tea lovers information on where they could get their “fix.” She told me a bit of the shop’s history. 

Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar opened for business in 2004. Kari and her family have lived in this southeastern coastal area of North Carolina since the 1980’s, after having moved from New Jersey. She loves serving the Topsail Island locals and its many vacationers year round.IMG_2522

Kari said the thing that the put her coffee bar on the map is the experienced baristas she employs. Not only are they trained to make gourmet speciality coffees, but they come with previous experience. She tells them that she wants her coffees to be personal; made like you would make a cup for someone who was visiting in your own home. People recognize the difference and it makes them feel special.  

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I asked Kari where she got the roasted coffee beans for her wonderful coffee and she said she got it locally, from Java Estate, a company in Hampstead. “Oftentimes,” she laughed, when the roasters make their delivery in the mornings, they have me make them a cup before they go. They love they way we ‘make’ their coffee!”  

When asked about the coffee bar’s number one seller, Kari said without giving it much thought, “Our Signature Lattes.” She showed me a menu of them and then asked me if I’d like one. I chose the “Topsail Turtle,” a chocolatey, nutty and caramel concoction that is one of their top three best sellers. She made it for me herself and now that I’ve had it, I’ll have to go back for more!  They also offer “essential espresso drinks, frappes, smoothies and the freshest of exotic coffees.”

I won’t be the only one seeking out this special coffee bar. I looked online and saw that many customers have written glowing reports, including Yelp, with one five star rating after another! Kari said she’s even had people from Seattle, the coffee capital of America, seek out her exotic coffee shop! If it’s special enough for the folks of Seattle, it’s special enough for us! Way to go Kari!

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I noticed that there were some yummy looking baked goods and desserts on the counter. Sugar Island, a local bakery and coffee shop a few blocks away, makes the goodies for Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar. Kari says the owner of that shop is up at three o’clock in the morning like a little elf, making her delicious treats. I like how there is a spirit of comradery with these Surf City merchants. They put a hometown feel into their businesses that make me feel as if I’m in the mythical town of “Mayberry, NC.” I think that a lot of our visitors expect to feel that when they visit small, North Carolina towns.

I looked around for more on the counter top. A counter top tells me a great deal about a place. Not only were there goodies and healthy snacks, but there was a container placed out front so that customers could donate their change for animals that need help. Kari said that they do a lot for animals that are hurt and need homes. Often, she has taken in dogs that need homes and has kept them until they are placed. She said people sometimes bring pets that they find in the area that are lost until their owners are found. Some folks that live nearby know that if their pet is missing, there’s a good chance it’s at Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar.

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Underneath the counter, in a glass covered area, a local artist, Angelic (her real name,) displays her jewelry. Beautiful paintings (also by local artists) were for sale and hung on the walls, making the place colorful and cheerful. To the side there was even homemade laundry detergent, made by Kari herself, who got the recipe from Pinterest.

Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar is also a place for those seeking relaxation. This winter season, on Thursday nights, there is meditation class with Linda Noble. Also, there are often spontaneous music jams with the local regulars. Kari has an amplifier and if someone just happens to have a guitar, well…you never know what may happen!

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I loved visiting with Kari. It was obvious that she has put her heart and soul into her cozy coffee shop. By the time I left, I felt as if I had a new best friend. Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar serves up more than just coffee. I think it’s true! “Coffee and friends ARE the perfect blend.”

 Hunga Bunga Java Coffee Bar is located at 614 N New River Drive, Surf City, NC  28445. The telephone number is 910-328-5282.

https://www.facebook.com/HungaBungaJava/

 

 

Even a Rainy Day on Topsail Island is Magical

by Donna Byrd

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I love Wednesdays because that’s my husband’s day off. Usually, in the warmer months, Bill golfs for half of the day at one our beautiful, local golf courses and then spends the rest of his day with me, maintaining the yard, fixing things around the house, visiting places we haven’t been before, walking the beach or (my favorite) shopping.

This past Wednesday, we awakened to a rainy, gray day.  It was obvious that golf was not in the forecast and neither was working in the yard. What could we do on a warm, rainy Wednesday to make it feel special? We took a ride down the beach road and searched for a cozy lunch at a place we’d never been before.

I’ve always loved a rainy day at the beach and when I was growing up and we’d go to the beach on vacation, the week would usually have at least one rainy day. That was the day we doctored our sunburns, read books and magazines, ate at one of our favorite seafood restaurants from the cheaper lunch menu and then explored the local shopping scene.

This Wednesday with Bill felt like one of those days. As soon as the car left the high bridge and began making its way down the beach road, it began to rain in earnest. The windshield wipers were having trouble keeping up with the big drops, but I didn’t care. I loved the sound of the rain hitting the glass and the rhythm of the wipers slapping against the sheet of water. It seemed as if we were in our own world on that deserted beach road, safe and dry while all nature outside was fending for itself in the pouring rain. I know it makes me seem like an odd sort of person, but that feeling makes me feel satisfied and content.

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We decided to go to “Daddy Macs” for lunch.  It’s in a wonderful location; right on the ocean looking out over the Surf City Ocean Pier, Topsail Island’s first pier, built in 1948.   I was hoping to get a few good pictures of the pier from the restaurant’s back porch/deck.

The restaurant was casually beautiful! The dining area was surrounded by windows that gave majestic views of ocean waves tipped in foamy white, gray sky, seagulls and nautical birds trying to fly with the wind currents. We saw rain darkened, faded gray planks that made up the pier next door and the fishermen on it, covered in yellow, red and blue rain slickers.

IMG_2444 Although it was gray and misty, it was one of the most beautiful scenes I had witnessed at the beach. There was even a huge, bright, American flag that proudly flew from the pier, brightening up the dreary landscape.  I stepped outside in the rain to take some pictures.

We were seated in a booth by the windows. I had fried flounder, fries and slaw while Bill had one of Daddy Mac’s classic hamburgers. We took our time at the cozy table and watched the ocean swells through the rain splashing down the windows. The staff had some great music playing on a Pandora station. Our food was delicious and so was that “rainy day at the beach” lazy feeling. Ahhh…did I tell you I love the beach in the rain?

We couldn’t sit at the lunch table all afternoon and eventually we paid our bill and left. We met a sweet couple with a few kids outside on the front porch.  They were from Burnsville, North Carolina in Yancey County.  That little town is far away from here, right by the Tennessee border. They love to come to Topsail Beach in October when things aren’t quite as busy. Even they didn’t mind the rain.

We said our goodbyes and ran to our cars, sorry for our Daddy Mac experience to end. I wished the nice couple lived near Topsail. I knew if they did, we might become good friends.

We rode over the swing bridge, leaving the island to go home by way of Highway 17. Stopping at the new Dunkin Donuts on the mainland side, we got a coffee to share and began to make our way back to “The Ferry.” We took a few detours and discovered some roads we had not yet travelled. On a whim, we took a “dead end” that surprised us with its quaint homes and pretty twists and turns. The trees along the road were in full fall color and were swirling in the air with the rain. There was a little white chapel with a steeple and suddenly, the road ended. We could have driven straight off into the Intracoastal Waterway!

Stopping the car, we sat there drinking our coffee,  in our own little dry world, while the rain fell from the gray sky and we watched the dark gray water lap at the grassy shore. Even a rainy day at the beach is magical.  See you soon?

End of Summer Celebration in Surf City, NC

End of Summer Celebration in Surf City, NC

If you’re going to be in the Topsail area this Labor Day weekend, don’t miss the first Surf City, NC “End of Summer Celebration,” complete with a concert and fireworks display! The event will be held at Soundside Park on August 29th, Continue reading End of Summer Celebration in Surf City, NC

Independence Day Fireworks Celebrations for Topsail Island and Surrounding Areas

If you’re planning to be on or around Topsail Island this July 4th, don’t miss out on these local opportunities to celebrate our freedom:

Fireworks at Swing Bridge Continue reading Independence Day Fireworks Celebrations for Topsail Island and Surrounding Areas

A Topsail Island Tradition Since 1975: Andrews’ Produce in N. Topsail Beach

A Topsail Island Tradition Since 1975

The Andrews’ Produce Stand in N. Topsail Beach

The Andrews sign

For nearly 40 years, the Andrews family has been selling produce and other locally grown goodies at the corner of Island Drive and 2nd Avenue in N. Topsail Beach. It all started around the time that Onslow County native, James Andrews (pictured below), built a beach home on 2nd Ave in N. Topsail Beach back in the 70’s.  Continue reading A Topsail Island Tradition Since 1975: Andrews’ Produce in N. Topsail Beach

Topsail Sea Turtles Return Home

Topsail Island Sea Turtles Return Home

The New Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is Now Open to the Public!

Arendell & volunteers

What a sight to behold was the recent Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center’s “turtle release” in Surf City, NC! Monday, June 2, 2014, was a beautiful day to attend my first ever “turtle graduation,” as some Sea Turtle Hospital volunteers proudly dubbed the festivities. Additional releases took place Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it was the fact that I am pregnant myself, or if there was more to it than that, but I became quite emotional as I approached the staging area and saw nearly a dozen turtles cradled in the arms of caring volunteers. Each one I approached proudly showed off the turtle (whether small or large) in their care. Continue reading Topsail Sea Turtles Return Home

Coming to Topsail Island This Summer? Don’t Miss the Surf City Pier!

With several prime fishing spots, two large cleaning stations with fresh running water, and a grill and ice cream shop with plenty of screened-in outdoor seating, the Surf City pier is the place to be this summer!

Continue reading Coming to Topsail Island This Summer? Don’t Miss the Surf City Pier!

Topsail’s Latest Attraction: An Alligator’s New Home

New Sneads Ferry Library & Environmental Education Center is now OPEN!OCPL Sign

We are very excited to announce that the new Onslow County Public Library and Environmental Education Center is now open in Sneads Ferry, NC, just minutes from Topsail Island’s beaches!

Saturday, April 5th, marked the Grand Opening of the Environmental Education Center and the “Discover Onslow” Exhibit. Continue reading Topsail’s Latest Attraction: An Alligator’s New Home

Taking the Plunge: Surf City’s Twelfth Annual Dolphin Dip 2014

dolphin dip t-shirt

By Amy Baker

January 3, 2014

Would you take a winter time dip with dolphins on Topsail Island in January?!

Well that is exactly what a few hundred people did on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 in Surf City, NC!

According to WECT News, there were more than 2500 people Continue reading Taking the Plunge: Surf City’s Twelfth Annual Dolphin Dip 2014