Everything You Need to Know to Explore the Waters Around Topsail

Explore the Waters Around Topsail

Thalassophile: (n) a lover of the sea. Here on Topsail Island, we are certainly lovers of the sea. Every aspect of life on Topsail Island is connected to the sea, and that's just the way we like it. We know you will as well. For thousands of years, the Island has been shaped by the ocean's shifting currents. The end result is one of the most beautiful vacation spots on the Atlantic Coast, and certainly the best in North Carolina. With incredible oceanfront and soundfront properties, there is a perfect vacation home waiting for you on Topsail Island. For those avid anglers and boaters, there are even several properties featuring boat docks.

Lay of the Water 

Lay of the Land…or Water


In case this is your first-time visiting Topsail Island here is a little bit about the geography of our beautiful island. Topsail Island is one of the several islands that make up the barrier islands of North Carolina. Topsail Island is approximately 26 miles long and between approximately 500 to 1500 feet wide. The beauty of the barrier islands, like Topsail Island, is the geography creates incredible opportunities for inland and offshore boating, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding. 

Topsail is comprised of three individual communities; North Topsail, Surf City, and Topsail Beach. Over the years, while other beaches have lost their way to over development, Topsail Island has instead maintained its small town charm and preserved the local natural environment.  Because of this stewardship, the waters around the island are full of an incredibly wide variety of wildlife.  From the deep majestic waters of the Atlantic Ocean, to the shallow and the mellow waters of the sound...this is truly a water lovers paradise. We are sure you'll agree. Now, let us help get you out on the water. 


Water Adventures 

Water Adventures


Now that you have a little of the geography down, it's time to get out on the water and explore. There are so many ways you can enjoy the local waters, here are just a few of the ways to enjoy the waters around Topsail Island. 


Coming to Topsail Island to fish is a great idea. This is especially true in the later part of the season and fall. The water temperatures are great, the crowds have thinned, and the fish are in abundance. We even have several vacation homes with docks, allowing you to fish right from your own vacation rental.  If you want more great info about fishing on Topsail Island, check our previous post: Everything You Need To Know About Fishing on Topsail Island.

Guided Ecological Tours

You may have noticed we have some spectacular and pristine waterways. A great way to explore these waters is by guided tour. Topsail Island Boat Rentals provides guided tours led by experienced local captains. This is a particularly fun way to explore if you are not yet comfortable captaining a boat. These tours allow you to take the helm when ready or just sit back and enjoy the view while the captain leads the way. You can snorkel, head out to the marshes, maybe even catch a glimpse of a dolphin. Half and Full day excursions are available with loads of options on how to spend your time on the water. 

If you are looking for a guided tour, but want to also enjoy the rush of paddling your own kayak or stand up paddle board, then you need to head over to see the folks at Paddle NC, with a great selection of kayaks and stand up paddleboards for rent. A great option for those wanting to learn more about Topsail Island and her ecology while paddling is to go on one of Paddle NC's guided tours. These tours are either for a half or full day. The main stop will be a visit/tour of the Permuda Island Nature Preserve.  This island has an amazing amount of natural diversity, and there is evidence that Native Americans visited this island as early at 300 B.C. One note of caution: if you do visit the island on your own, it is not recommended that you explore the island on foot. 

Have Your Own Boat

If you brought your own boat on your Topsail Island vacation, there are plenty of things to do. You can wake board in the sound, or leisurely explore the Intracoastal Waterway. A great way to end the day, and enjoy a beautiful Topsail Island sunsets is to pull up to The Breezeway Restaurant for dinner. With your own boat, your Topsail Island vacation puts you in the heart of a boat lovers paradise. 

Jet Skis 

These shallow draft single or two person watercraft offer the adventurous spirited visitor a wet and wild way to explore the waterways. With their shallow draft and great maneuverability, they are perfect for exploring the sound, canals, and marshlands. Their speed makes for an exhilarating ride that is sure to be a crowd pleaser with the kids. Renting jet skis is easy with the help of the folks at Surf City Jet Ski Rentals. Rentals include fuel, life vests, and an orientation session to make sure you get the most out of your day on the water. 


Those beautiful breakers on a nice windy fall day are just begging to be surfed. Topsail has always been known as a great place for surfing, and particularly good for those just learning. If you have the desire, we have the waves. The friendly staff at Surf City Surf School have all the skills and equipment you need to get out on the water and hang ten in no time.  


Getting on the Water 

Getting on the Water

Now that you have decided what type of adventure you want to have, here are some of the great local resources to make that adventure come to life. 

Boat Rentals

Looking to get out on the water?  From pontoon boats to center console fishing boats, the good folks at Aquaholics Boat Rentals have plenty of top quality boats to choose from. The Intracoastal Waterway and the sound are the perfect places for slow rides on a pontoon boat. Looking for more ocean-going experiences? Renting a center console is just what you need. Pack the cooler and grab the rods, with these center consoles your able to explore and fish in comfort from the sound to the ocean. 

Paddle Boards & Kayak Rentals

Best suited for the shallower and calmer water of sound, standup paddle boards and kayaks are the perfect way to explore these calm waters. If you are unable to bring your own kayak or paddle board there are plenty of places that can rent you with the perfect boat or kayak. Herring's Outdoor Sports is one such local shop, and they offer military discounts with reasonable great hourly rates.

Boat Launches

There are three public boat ramps on Topsail Island. In North Topsail Beach, there is a boat ramp at the end of Shrimp Lady Lane under the high-rise bridge. The ramp is free, and there is plenty of parking. Surf City's public boat ramp are located at Soundside Park, 517 Roland Avenue (near the swing bridge). The Town of Topsail Beach, on the south end of the island, also has a boat ramp offering access to the Intracoastal Waterway. The ramp is located on South Anderson Boulevard just past Town Hall in downtown Topsail Beach, and is set up as a self-pay, self-use ramp.

If you are looking for a rental vacation with easy access to the water for boating try Breakaway and Empty Nest properties, both of which have launches in their respective communities making getting on the water during your Topsail Island vacation even more convenient.  

Fueling Up

Looking to fuel up while on the water?  Topsail Island Marina is the place to go for dockside fueling. If you are towing your boat on your vacation there are plenty of local gas stations in the area with many also providing ethanol free gas. 

We hope you get out and explore the local waters around Topsail Island, and enjoy them as much as we do. Enjoying the waters around Topsail Island has never been easier with so many local resources, vendors, and places to explore. Come take a look at our selection of Fall Specials and you'll be on the water in no time enjoying our beautiful fall weather.

Explore the Waters Around Topsail

Comment on this post!