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Development of the island initially created much controversy, but the existing resort has become self-sustaining, with the island's mix of forests and marsh the focal point. Although Bald Head Island is known as a private resort, anyone can visit and rent a cottage, room, or villa.
The 14 miles of pristine beach attract visitors of another kind, the sea turtles that nest here. Bald Head Island is the principal loggerhead sea turtle rookery. The nesting season runs June through August, with the hatchlings emerging approximately sixty days from nesting. Also located on Bald Head is the Bald Head Island State Natural Area. The park encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is managed by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
Trip Highlights: Gorgeous beaches, no cars, very low-impact housing.
Trip Rating: Intermediate if you take the ferry, advanced if you paddle from Southport.
Trip Duration: Four to six hours; 7.5 miles.
Navigation Aids: USGS Maps NC0385, Kure Beach, and NC0099, Cape Fear, 1:24,000.
Tidal Information: Cape Fear has a strong tidal influence. Pick up a tide table before you leave Southport.
Cautions: Cape Fear Inlet is a huge inlet, appropriately named. It is famous for its currents and shoals. Even though it is only 3 miles from Southport to Bald Head, I recommend taking the ferry.
Trip Planning: Take the ferry from Indigo Plantation instead of paddling to Bald Head Island. It's only $14 and well worth the money in safety and time.
Launch Site: From Route 211 South (Howe Street) in Southport, turn right onto West Ninth Street. Follow this road 1.7 miles to Indigo Plantation Drive, which dead-ends at the ferry terminal. After a twenty-minute ferry ride you will land at the town marina, where you can put in.
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