Travel Guide: Ocean Isle Beach

Good morning, friends!! I wanted to share an Ocean Isle Beach Travel Guide today (along with all the outfits I wore while I was there). My family has been visiting Ocean Isle since before I was born – so I have literally been going there every summer my entire life! It feels like my second home – and it’s one of the only places in the world where I’m truly able to relax. I have such good memories from our summers there growing up, that it feels like such a safe, happy place when I’m there.

If you’re interested in visiting, read on for my family’s favorite restaurants and things to do in Ocean Isle!

white tank // jean shorts // rainbow sweater, similar but more affordable here and here // The Darling Detail cross necklace and star choker

tassel cover-up // seashell earrings // straw bag // Brixton straw hat // TKEES sandals

Brixton straw hat // seashell earrings // maxi dress cover-up // straw bag // TKEES sandals

pink Nike hat // Rayban sunglasses // Eberjey sweatshirt, also sold here // sweatpants shorts, similar here // Chanel bag, similar here

On my mom: Lilly Pulitzer dress // straw bag // white sandals // On me: white dress // straw bag // TKEES sandals

Free People top (comes in four colors!) // white denim shorts // Brixton straw hat // white bathing suit top and bottoms // Rayban sunglasses // TKEES nude sandals // Chanel bag, similar here

Where to Stay

A RENTAL! My family always rented a house for a week every summer. We rented through several different companies throughout the years: Sloane, Cooke and McClure are the best. You should also look at VRBO! Chris and I own a beach condo and we do rent it out through VRBO, however it’s already fully booked for the summer! We plan to do a few renovations in the fall, and then I will share the rental link with you guys so you can rent it too 🙂

Where to Eat


DRIFT COFFEE & KITCHEN: We looove Drift Coffee for both breakfast and lunch! They have amazing avocado toast (called an “Avocado Smash”) and a Market Breakfast Bowl that is super healthy and delicious with egg, avocado, sweet potato, greens, quinoa, baby tomatoes. Plus their coffee is AMAZING. It’s nice to either walk or ride your bike here for breakfast!

BAGEL DOCK: Bagel Dock is actually located in Calabash but it’s worth the drive. This place is definitely not healthy haha but it’s tasty! They have a zillion flavors of cream cheese and really fresh bagels with tons of options for lunch and bagel sandwiches.

THE PURPLE ONION: This is a local secret that we discovered many years ago 🙂 The Purple Onion serves amazing pastries and traditional breakfast items, as well as burgers, sandwiches, salads and soups for lunch. My favorite is the Purple Onion Cafe Salad with a side of sweet potato fries! If you go here for lunch you HAVE to order a slice of cake. Check out the “cake refrigerator” when you walk in the door – there are tons of different kinds, all mouthwatering.


SHARKY’S: Sharky’s has been an Ocean Isle Beach staple for more than 30 years! Tucked under the Ocean Isle Beach bridge, the restaurant has a large indoor dining area as well as outdoor dining that overlooks OIB’s beautiful waterfront views. My family loves the Shark’s Teeth and any of their seafood. The Tropical Shrimp Salad is BOMB, and I always order it with a beer followed by a slice of key lime pie.

OCEAN ISLE FISH COMPANY: Also known as OIFC, Ocean Isle Fish Company is a great place to grab a drink before dinner. They have a Tiki Bar located on the top with awesome views of the sound! My mom and I always order fun drinks in a coconut. We also love their store – they sell a bunch of cute T-shirts, kids toys and have a large selection of Yeti cups. If you stay for dinner, we think their food is just “okay” but we love the atmosphere and it does have an awesome view!

PROVISION CO.: This restaurant is actually located in Holden Beach, but we drive in every year for their amazing food! This was my favorite place for hamburgers and cheeseburgers in the entire world (back when I ate hamburgers haha). Try their onion rings – they are OMG so good.

CAPTAIN JOHN’S SEAFOOD HOUSE: Captain John’s is our favorite place in Calabash for seafood! My parents and brother always get the seafood platter with deviled crab (I usually get a salad). You have to eat here if you like seafood – then stop at Callahan’s next door to go shopping – they have a HUGE selection of trinkets, jewelry, decor and gifts. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s so much fun to peruse!

BOUNDARY HOUSE: This is the nicest restaurant near Ocean Isle Beach… we go here for special occasions like my mom’s birthday! It is sooo good – they serve buttery fresh croissants with every side salad and those are always my favorite part of the entire meal! They have amazing appetizers, seafood and my dad says their steak is phenomenal!

INLET VIEW BAR & GRILL: We love this place because it has great food and it’s dog-friendly! Chris and I love taking Winnie, sitting on their outdoor patio and dining while looking out over the water. I always get a baked potato as a side because it’s mmmm good!

What To Do

THE BEACH: The most obvious thing: enjoy the beach! The beach at Ocean Isle is really nice, we bring our own chairs and umbrella and set up camp for hours at a time. Sometimes we pack lunch in a cooler, other times we’ll head back to the house for an hour to eat and take a break from the sun. Our trips always involve getting as much beach time as possible!

BIKE RIDE: Bikes are really easy to rent in Ocean Isle, and you can ride all over the island looking at the pretty houses! We like to ride our bikes to Drift Coffee in the morning for breakfast.

PUTT PUTT: There’s a cute little putt putt place right next to the pier in Ocean Isle (you can’t miss it – you will see it on your left when you drive onto the island!). Our family loves a good friendly competition, we always play at least once during our week at the beach.

YOGA: My friend Courtney told me about sunrise yoga on the beach, so we did it together a few weeks ago and it was SO fun! It’s $10 per class, and you can see the schedule here. You don’t even need a yoga mat, just bring your beach towel and you’re good to go.

FARMER’S MARKET: There’s a really cool little Farmer’s Market that sets up shop next to the Museum of Coastal Carolina every Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. during the summertime. Although they don’t have much produce, they do have a ton of local artwork, natural soaps, honeys and jams, and even some cute beach towels and beach bags.

CONCERTS & OUTDOOR MOVIES: If you’re into music, you are in luck! OIB offers FREE concerts every Friday night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. All concerts take place in the lot next to the Museum of Coastal Carolina on the island. Bring a beach chair and your own drinks and get ready to enjoy the music (and do some dancing!). For kids, OIB also has free outdoor movie nights every Wednesday in the same lot. You can check the movie schedule here.

What To Pack

Most of the restaurants in Ocean Isle are pretty casual, but my mom and I love to dress up so we usually wear dresses and wedges to dinner every night. You certainly don’t have to do that, though – we are usually the dressiest ones there! For a trip to Ocean Isle, you will definitely need to pack multiple bathing suits and cover-ups, as well as a beach bag, towels and sunscreen. For trips to Drift Coffee and bike rides around the island, pack a cute tee and some denim shorts. A pair of nice sandals is also a must!

Let me know if you’ve ever been to Ocean Isle and if you have any favorites! I’d also love to know if you’re planning a trip there in the future – it’s my favorite beach of all time, after all 🙂

Leave a Comment


  1. I think it is amazing if you have a connection to a certain place that goes way back to your childhod – something quite magical about that! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this travel guide, this place sounds beautiful and such a great location to relax!
    xx Janine

  2. You are such a gorgeous soul 🙂
    Love to see your happiness around and we totally have to go there someday!

    Have a magical week

    Love and Light,
    Patricia & Miguel

  3. My dad and I went to Ocean Isle Beach years ago after my college orientation! I have such fun memories from that trip- we also did a day trip to Myrtle Beach 🙂

    xoxo A

  4. Anne Arnold

    Hey Cait, happy Monday, hope you are well? I just love the outfit with the Nike cap and the Eberjey shirt, however the shorts you have linked are not the exact same ones and I love the exact ones you are wearing. Are they old perhaps? Have a great week! Love from Germany, Anne

  5. This place looks amazing! As always, your guides are so helpful!

  6. Laura Leigh

    This is a fabulous guide caitlin! We haven’t ever been to Ocean Isle but definitely want to go after seeing all your posts and now reading this guide! Thank you for sharing!

    xo Laura Leigh

  7. Lee

    Love your guide! My family has vacationed here every summer of my life (from Memphis) and we love it! And you mentioned 2 places I haven’t been so I’m excited to try Bagel Dock and Purple Onion! We are going in a few weeks and I’m already excited about Drift Coffee, kids movie night, Karaoke on Wednesday’s and spending days on the beach!

  8. Millie

    Yay!! I am planning my first trip to Ocean Isle this summer! My mom, niece, and I are going for a girls trip. I’ll def check out your recommendations 🙂

  9. Teresa

    Love Ocean Isle, family friendly , will be visiting in August with some of my favorite humans😊

  10. I love how cute and quaint this beach town is! I’ve been to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and loved my time there. I’m from a small beach town in Maine so I can really appreciate everything you talked about!

  11. Ocean Isle sounds great!! I’ve wanted to take a trip to NC or SC, maybe this will be where we go! Is the water clear like the in Caribbean??

    Brooke 🙂

  12. I love how close you and your mom are. So precious! Looks like a gorgeous beach spot and I love all your summer holiday pictures! xxx

    Arum Lilea

  13. Anna Zeng

    I would highly recommend Calabash Creamery! I grew up in ocean isle and calabash creamery has the best ice cream I’ve ever had by far!

  14. Hey Caitlin!!

    I’m loving this travel guide!! I like how your broke it apart into places to stay, restaurants, and things to do ! I was wondering if you rented that boat or if that’s y’all boat?! I really should get a boat license because I need that in my life :p haha have a great day love!
    Kit from

  15. Kelly

    Our extended family just spent the week in Ocean Isle for the first time last week and had so much fun! For the previous 30 years we had gone to Ocean City, MD , which is a very lively and fun place but with our families growing it had just gotten too expensive to find a place for all of us. The hardest part about changing beaches is not going to all your favorite restaurants that you visited for years but we found some new fun places. We loved San Jose Mexican Restaurant in Shallotte ($3.99 margaritas Mon-Thurs!), Jinx Creek, and the Ocean Isle Fish Company. I think our new favorite spot, though, is the Calabash Creamery for delicious homemade ice cream! We went 3 nights! Also really enjoyed the Tuesday Farmers Market you mentioned. Didn’t realize all the local artists would be there so that was a nice surprise. Look forward to checking out some of the other places you mentioned next year.

  16. We just renovated our beach condo! I just started my blog, but I will definitely do a before and after post! These pics are beautiful!!

  17. Rebecca

    My husband and I have a place at OIB too! You have to eat at Oyster Rock In Calabash. Much nicer atmosphere in Boundary House

  18. Bailey Harman

    My parents are retiring and moving to ocean isle beach. You should at something about sea turtle watching. The nest is protected and their are volunteers who start watching the nest right around hatch time. We were there this week and would sit by the nest at night to see if anything happened. If you are lucky, you will get to witness a “boil”. Here is a site. There is also a museum. On Saturdays, a group called”Second Helping” collects unopened food on your way out of town to donate. So many cool things about OIB!

  19. Monica

    Stop!!! We go to Ocean Isle every year too!!! My dads family started going way before I was born!! We are supposed to be going this June. (fingers crossed) We tried out the Farmers Market for the first time two years ago and it was such a hit. I am so sad to say I have never been to Drift Coffee..and I WILL be trying that this summer. We got new bikes to take with us so we will take a ride up there for sure! I wish they would bring the water slides back!! Those were BOMB and my kids would love them!!

  20. Hayley

    My family has been going to Sunset Beach (right next door) since before I was born! I started following you and happened to see your post about Ocean Isle! We always make it over there for Ocean Isle Fish Company (we preferred its old name- Giggling Mackerel) and Sharkey’s!

    • Yes!!! We love both of those restaurants, and I LOVED the name Giggling Mackerel. I was so sad when they changed it!