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The Top Free Things To Do On Topsail Island

Visitors flock every year to Topsail to enjoy the natural beauty of the island and its charming towns. Even without flashy tourist attractions, Topsail Island remains a favorite vacation destination for a lot of people due to its uncrowded beaches, abundant wildlife, and slow pace of life. You`ll be able to fully embrace nature and the coastal lifestyle.

Unlike other touristy beach towns, you`ll appreciate the island`s affordability as there are plenty of activities to do that don`t require a ton of cash. For families on a budget, the island is a perfect place to take your kids on a trip. With empty beaches, large parks, and boardwalks, there are a lot of free activities that will still create the ultimate beach experience. We`ll go over some of the most popular free activities on Topsail Island that the whole family can enjoy.

Why Visit Topsail Island?

Located off the coast of North Carolina between the towns of Wilmington and Jacksonville, Topsail Island wasn`t developed into residential towns until after the Second World War. Its beaches have remained somewhat of a hidden gem. Even in the busiest warm-weather season, you`re unlikely to encounter packed beaches. So, if you`re looking to avoid the summer season frenzy of more popular beaches along the North Carolina coast, like Atlantic Beach, then you`ll want to consider quieter beaches, like those on Topsail Island.

Beach Activities

The island`s biggest draw for visitors is the miles of sandy beaches. With twenty-six miles of coastline that spans three towns, there are plenty of gorgeous views and sandy beaches all over the island. All three towns have their own distinct charm and have their own parks, beaches, and local attractions. The clear Atlantic water offers stunning views and is perfect for a lot of different water activities, like jet skiing, surfing, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, or boating. However, if you don`t have free access to these Topsail Island activities, renting can be costly. Luckily, there are a ton of free Topsail Island activities to do on the beach that don`t require money. 


One of the best Topsail Island activities to do on the beach is to simply relax and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life and actually resting is a great way to spend your vacation. The best vacations allow you to de-stress and reset. So, grab your sunscreen, a beach towel, and a good book for a day spent lounging around in the sun. 

Build Sandcastles

If you`re looking for ways to keep your kids entertained and flex your creativity muscles, building sandcastles can be a fun activity. You can keep things simple or create elaborate castles. It is helpful to have a plastic bucket and carving tools to help build the castles but isn`t necessary. All you really need is sand and water to have a good time. 

Collect Seashells

Going on a hunt for cool seashells has always been a popular, low-cost beach activity. Not only do you keep yourself occupied looking for treasure, but you`ll be able to keep a free souvenir from your trip to the beach. There are also a lot of crafts that you can do together with your kids that involve seashells. So you can save the shells for a rainy day when you need an indoor craft activity to keep your kids entertained. 

Take a Swim in the Ocean

The Atlantic waters can get quite cold in the winter, so it`s best to save swimming for your summer trips. Taking a dip in the ocean is a great way to cool off on a hot July day. If you`ve never swum in the ocean before, you`ll be able to experience the feeling of the waves and the salt water of the ocean for the first time.

Enjoy a Sunrise or Sunset

Topsail has sublime sunrises and sunsets that are visible from all over the island. If you`re looking to create a beautiful memory, taking in one of the beautiful sunsets is an unforgettable experience. Watch it from the beach, boardwalk, parks, or your own vacation rental. A lot of our vacation rentals have waterfront views that are perfect to experience these events. 

In-Town Activities

While Topsail Island doesn`t have flashy tourist attractions, it does have a lot of small-town charm. There are cool local businesses, shops, and restaurants that are worth checking out during your stay on the island. However, there are also free activities located around the island that are fun to check out when you want a break from the beach. 

Enjoy the Boardwalks

All three towns have boardwalks that offer gorgeous views of the water. If you want to fish, you`ll need to pay a fee. However, you can also just check out the views. There are long piers located in all three towns, so no matter what part of the island you`re staying, you can find a boardwalk to enjoy.

Window Shop 

There are a lot of local shops and boutiques located in Surf City that are worth visiting. Browsing through these shops can be a fun way to pass the time on a rainy day. Even if you don`t find anything to buy, looking at all of the shops filled with local craftsmen and artists` work can be a fun time.

Missiles and More Museum

Topsail Island has an interesting history that many visitors may be unaware of. You can learn more about the history of the area by visiting the Missiles and More Museum, which showcases the island`s past an important naval station that was home to Operation Bumblebee. If you`re a history buff or just looking for a way to pass the time on a rainy day, you`ll be able to learn something new by spending some time at the museum.

Soundside Park

Along the Intercoastal waterway is one of Surf City`s best public parks. It has boardwalks for fishing, a pirate-themed playground, and picnic areas, making it perfect for families. The park is also where the city puts on annual events and festivals. If you`re around during the summertime, then you might want to check out the free movies screened here.

There are many fun and exciting activities to do on the beach, but renting equipment every day on your vacation can be expensive. Fortunately, there are a ton of fun Topsail Island activities that are free or low-cost on all parts of the island. Whether you`re looking for a relaxing vacation where you can enjoy nature or you need family-friendly ideas to keep your kids entertained, there is plenty to do on the island. Depending on your preferences, however, you may prefer different towns on the island. Surf City is great for families thanks to the many shops, parks, and restaurants available within walking distance. While North Topsail Beach is great for those looking to experience the natural beauty of the island. We have vacation rentals in various sizes in both cities, as well as in Topsail Beach at the south end of the island. 


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