Surf City, the largest of the island towns, is located in the center of Topsail Island. It serves as the commercial hub, offering numerous retail stores, restaurants, resort apparel, a supermarket, and nightclubs. The ocean fishing pier offers anglers a prime fishing location with an on-site tackle shop.
The town is unique in that it divides its limits between both Pender and Onslow counties, and has the only traffic light on the island. Just south of the main intersection, the town has a community park with basketball courts, slides, swings, and a small picnic area. Surf Citys prime geographical location, ready accessibility for visitors and multi-faceted recreational opportunities, are contributing to the towns continued growth.
Although swing bridges are an endangered species on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina, Surf City has operated its bridge since the early 1950s when it replaced an early military-issue pontoon bridge at Sears Landing. A unique view of the sound is picturesque from the bridge and it is a prime spot to watch the huge sailboats and yachts pass through.
The bridge generally opens on the hour. There are several public access crossovers to the sandy beaches with miles of oceanfront for sunbathing, swimming, hunting for shells or buries treasure.
Sneads Ferry is a true old-time fishing village where residents work long hours to make a living from the ocean waters. Located across the high rise bridge from Topsail Island, Sneads Ferry is where the New River joins the Intercoastal Waterway affording fine sports fishing and easy access for large boats to the Atlantic Ocean. The village has long been noted for its superb oysters and has a history dating back prior to Revolutionary days.
When traveling to the area via Highway 172 through the back gate of Camp Lejeune, it is not uncommon to see small fishing and shrimp boats dotting the New River. In the Fulchers Landing settlement, commercial fishermen can be seen bringing their catches right to the back door.
Although the heart of town is off the beaten path, superb seafood can be enjoyed at many local restaurants, or a stop at the local cafe will offer the opportunity for a quiet cup of coffee and light lunch. The towns friendly locals will welcome you to join its quaint and simple lifestyle.
At the intersection of Highways 50 and 17 lies the town of Holly Ridge (adjacent to the 48,000-acre Holly Shelter Game Preserve). Although still an active residential community, the town once boasted a population of 110,000.
These active years started in 1942 when the sleepy town of Hollyridge (the old spelling) was invaded by the U.S. Army who constructed a sprawling army artillery training base called Camp Davis. From 1942-46 the town prospered with the establishment and widening of U.S. 17 to allow military convoys to travel down the coast from Camp Lejeune to Camp Davis. Life slowed down considerably after the closing of Camp Davis.
Today Holly Ridge is a residential community with a business district and small industrial plants. New growth is expected in the area with the aquisition of Camp Davis by the military and the expansion of Camp Lejeune.
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