Topsail Island has over twenty-six miles of white Carolina sand and is enriched with a unique history.  Lying on the eastern coastline of North Carolina, perfectly set within thirty minutes in either direction to Jacksonville and Wilmington, it's been said that Topsail achieved it's name from a rather unique source; pirates.  Blackbeard himself was rumored to roam the island, making his way to Ocracoke.  As ships would pass offshore, the tall pirate ship's masts could be seen in the distance, thus the name Top-sail (pronounced Top-sul by most).  When the high sails could be seen in the distance, oncoming ships quickly turned to flee from a possible confrontation, not wanting to come face-to-face with pirates.  Blackbeard's "fleet" normally consisted of four ships; Queen Anne's Revenge, The Adventure, The Revenge and a tender which served the other three.  He had at least forty guns mounted on the deck of the Queen Anne.  All three main vessels were fighting ships with nearly three hundred men aboard.  Though his reign with short lived (just over two years), it's long been a legend of evil doings, with with story ending right here off the coast of North Carolina.  Even though Blackbeard had a bad reputation, no one is said to have been murdered by him during any raids.  The flag he flew aboard his ship did not just have the typical pirate symbols of a skull and crossbones, it also had a red heart within the design, which was a sign for mercy.

Another significant piece of history for Topsail Island was the Tucscarora Indians.  The evidence of prehistoric Indian villages and artifacts date back thousands of years.  In the 1700's they were known to have made hunting trips to Topsail Island.  If you're lucky you can still find arrowheads made by the Tucscarora Indians all over the island.

By the 1800's the area was known for it's salt works, which produced salt for meat preservation during the Civil War.  The salt mine was located in Sloop Point, between Holly Ridge and Hampstead off Highway 17.  At that time and up until the 1940's, Topsail Island was not accessible by automobile.  It was mostly used by farmers for their cattle to graze.  The herds were moved to and from the island when the tide was low.  It was also used by the locals for fishing camps.

During the 1940's the island began to see a lot of changes.  By that time civilization was in it's beginning stages to mold Topsail Island into what it is today.  The U.S. Navy picked Topsail as their site for Operation Bumblebee.  The Holly Ridge area housed Camp Davis, which literally led to a somewhat short-lived boomtown.  During Operation Bumblebee, nearly 200 experimental missiles were launched down the island resulting in the ramjet engine, which eventually allowed aircraft to push past the speed of sound.  There are many observation towers which were used to track the missiles during flight.  These are the small, three story block structures you find scattered around the island.  Some have been refurbished and one has even been made into a home in the Topsail Beach area.  Today, the Missiles and More Museum displays much of the islands history including artifacts of the old military presence along with exhibits from prehistory to present day.  The museum is a project of The Historical Society and one that is taken very seriously.  A recent expansion of the museum now allows for more of the islands history to be available for view and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

As Operation Bumblebee came to an end around 1948, the military relinquished control of Topsail Island.  By that time others had taken notice and permanent residents began to appear.  The three present towns were eventually incorporated with Surf City being the first in 1949, followed by Topsail Beach in 1963, and finally North Topsail Beach in 1990.  Since then, Topsail has continued to lure beach lovers from all over the world.  Topsail Island is truly the island dreams are made of.  With only one stoplight on the entire island, the only stress factor to contend with is getting caught by the swing bridge at the top of every hour to let the boats pass by.

If you enjoy a quiet beach atmosphere without a lot of commercialization, then you've found your place at Topsail.  With three towns to choose from, your perfect vacation spot is just over the bridge.  An abundance of outdoor activities or just total relaxation await you here.  So, pack your bags and head for Topsail Island!