Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Holden Beach, NC

  • Published 2022/02/16

You don’t need to beat the crowd if you just want to beat the heat.

Avoid the packed beaches and head down to Holden Beach, North Carolina, a small seaside town in Brunswick County.

It also belongs to the metropolitan area of Myrtle Beach.

In 1756, Benjamin Holden bought four plots of land on the mainland, plus the island between the ocean and his plantation.

He and his sons went fishing from this island, and they sent their cattle to graze there.

This collection of land would end up becoming present-day Holden Beach.

Years went by, and John Holden, Benjamin’s grandson, established a commercial fishery on the family island.

In 1924, he started Holden Beach Resort on a section of the land.

This resort would also become Brunswick County’s first beach property subdivision.

John also built the Holden Beach bridge in 1925.

However, the construction of the Inland Waterway destroyed it.

Today a strong community lives on Holden Beach, thriving on the rich and stunning seaside resort town.

During the summer, several people visit the place, hoping to bask in the sun away from the crowds.

Do you want to know more about Holden Beach, NC?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town:

Go Fishing at Holden Beach Pier

Wooden bridge at Holden Beach Pier.

JWButler /

Holden Beach Pier presents bountiful fishing opportunities for the enterprising angler.

You can spend a full day there waiting for the big catch, or you can spend an entire summer fishing every day.

The pier also has lots of room, so you can always find a spot even during the peak of summer.

Sand near the body of water and bridge at Holden Beach Pier.

Alejandro Guzmani /

If you don’t want to walk a long way from your lodging to the pier, Holden Beach Pier hosts nearby accommodations minutes away from the pier entrance.

The pier is 700 feet long, comprising natural wood planks.

These boards are thick and sturdy enough to withstand lashing waves and howling winds from minor hurricanes.

Sit on the pier and hope to catch fish like the King Mackerel, Sea Mullet, Speckled Trout, Ladyfish, Pinfish, and many others.

Visit in the fall and try to catch the black and red drum.

View under the wooden bridge at Holden Beach Pier.

Alejandro Guzmani /

See the Vision at Mary’s Gone Wild

One of the most dynamic folk artists in the region lives on Holden Beach, and she has transformed her residence into an endless sprawling work of art.

Mary Paulsen started painting in the 80s while she scoured dumpsters to refinish items for sale.

She says she had a sudden vision one day while washing the dishes.

According to Mary, the Lord told her to create art, and she did.

Entering Mary’s residence today feels like stepping into another world.

Literally, every surface in her house has a painting.

She has painted on surfboards, glass windows, wood planks, tables, chairs, and many others.

Likewise, she has collected unique artwork and collectibles to decorate her home.

Her vision is vivid and bold, repurposing trash into decorative items.

Today, Mary has become a renowned folk artist, and her artwork hangs in all 50 states.

The Museum of Art in Georgia has also featured her work in their Folk Art exhibit.

You can visit Mary’s Gone Wild anytime, and Mary herself would be happy to welcome you, listen to your story, and share her perspectives with you.

Splash around at the Magic Mountain Water Park

If you don’t want to hit the beach just yet, you can head on to the Magic Mountain Water Park to cool off.

Your kids will surely love sliding down the park’s two water slides for kids while you do the same at the three slides for adults.

Bring your kids and loved ones for a nice day out at the pool.

Once you’ve had your fill, dry yourself off and head to the Treasure Island Mini Golf & Arcade.

Play some mini-golf with family or kids, or treat your kids to an afternoon at the indoor arcade.

Then, cap it all off with a family trip to the ice cream shop.

These amenities are affordable, too, so feel free to spend.

Explore the Water with TourH20 Pontoon and Kayak Tours

In 2021, the website Tripadvisor gave this tour service the Travelers’ Choice Award, reflecting their customers’ trust in the quality of their boating experience.

Tourists worldwide have explored Holden Beach to its fullest thanks to TourH20’s services.

If you’re with kids and loved ones, get their pontoon tour service and explore the waters and islands near Holden Beach.

You can even go on a family fishing trip.

However, if you’re riding solo, you can take their kayaks and get even closer to the wildlife and seascape of the islands.

Reel in the Big Fish with Ollie Raja Fishing Charters

Ollie Raja Fishing Charters provides the best fishing experience in Holden Beach with both inshore and offshore charters to offer.

Everyone is welcome to come aboard their boats, whether children or adults.

Likewise, the company uses only the best state-of-the-art equipment to help you catch the biggest fish in the water.

They also specialize in inshore, offshore, and nearshore fishing.

If you’re still not sure, then you should know that the family-owned business has fished the Holden Beach waters and nearby Oak Island for five generations.

Prepare yourself for the big catch!

Go Cruising with Windy Point Nautical Adventures

The Windy Point Nautical Adventures tour service allows guests to customize their boat rides across the waters of Holden Beach.

For example, you can opt for a self-guided kayak tour if you’re in the mood for adventure.

You can paddle around and marvel at the bays, creeks, and marshes of the Shallotte River.

On the other hand, you can go on a romantic water taxi cruise to a waterfront restaurant for a hearty dinner.

You can trust Windy Point to give you the most pleasant boating experience you can hope for.

Bask in the Sun at Holden Beach

Aerial view of Holden Beach and houses.

AM Custom Aerials /

This nationally renowned beach in North Carolina should satisfy all your requirements for a perfect summer getaway.

If you don’t believe it, then how about this?

Magazines like National Geographic and Traveler Magazine have named Holden Beach one of the Top 10 Beaches in the United States.

Waves crashing on shore at Holden Beach.

CathyRL /

Its limited commercial access is part of its appeal, leading to fewer crowds and fewer eyesore shops.

What’s left are 9 miles of unspoiled oceanfront, where you can sunbathe and frolic under the sun all you want.

Popular activities on the beach and water are surf-fishing and boating.

If you want to explore the island, you can go hiking.

Go snorkeling, and you might even find sea turtles making their underwater homes.

Sunset at Holden Beach.

Rui Serra Maia /

Swing Hard at the Holden Beach Driving Range

Who says you can’t hit a golf swing by the beach?

You can do exactly that at the Holden Beach Driving Range, and you’ll have a full view of the amazing beachfront while you tee off.

If you want to get a little practice before your company golf game, head over to this driving range and get some swings in.

It’s close to the beach, too, so you can go there before or after you swim.

You can also enjoy this range even if you just want to let off some stress.

Likewise, you don’t need to be a pro golfer to enjoy hitting some balls.

After a few hits, head to the picnic shelters to enjoy a nice meal with your buddies.

Learn to Hang Ten at the Southern Surf Academy

The Southern Surf Academy holds its headquarters at Holden Beach, where it teaches eager learners the basics of surfing.

Experienced surfers who want to give back to the community teach learners of all ages how to surf and have fun.

They also teach people on vacation.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of riding a wave, knock at their door and learn!

It’s never too late to learn a new hobby or experience another side of the ocean.

Don’t even worry if you’re a beginner.

The surfer-teachers will even surf with you at first, just to get your feet wet.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Learn Marine History at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Bring your kids to Ocean Isle Beach, just 25 minutes away from Holden Beach, for a chance to learn maritime history.

They will love learning more about the animals they’ll see underwater or around the island.

For example, the Museum of Coastal Carolina features interactive exhibits about the evolution of coral reefs, fish, and sharks.

Museum staff also want all visitors to know their part in preserving the rich marine life in North Carolina waters.

Other museum programs include touch tank feedings, beach bingo, and arts and crafts courses for kids.

Observe the Cosmos at the Ingram Planetarium

Drive 30 minutes from Holden Beach to the nearby town of Sunset Beach to arrive at the Ingram Planetarium.

Once again, your kids will surely love this trip because of the massive cutting-edge Sky Theater that shows live star displays and laser light shows.

You’ll also love these shows because they’re scored with songs from U2, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and even Metallica.

Step inside the planetarium’s Hurricane Simulator if you want to know what being stuck in a hurricane feels like.

Feel 78-mph winds whip you while you desperately try to stay on your feet.

Admission to the Ingram Planetarium is free, so come in anytime.

Fly through the Trees at The Swamp Park Eco-Adventure Zip-Line Park

You can also have some forest fun at Ocean Isle Beach.

Just head to The Swamp Park Eco Adventure Zip-Line Park to soar through the trees at top speeds.

Otherwise, you can also join the Swamp Tour along the Shallotte River.

The more adventurous among your group can then go to the peak of the Main Tower and join the Quick Jump event by simply stepping off.

Besides activities, you can also marvel at the wonders of nature by exploring the place and soaking in the forest vibes.

Roll a Strike at Planet Fun Bowling & Arcade

Bring your kids and loved ones to the Planet Fun Bowling & Arcade center for a night of fun and games.

Play a competitive bowling game with your friends and bring home the coveted bragging rights.

Likewise, you can teach your kids how to bowl just like your parents must have done when you were young.

Besides bowling, the center also offers mini-golf and laser tag.

You can also hit up the arcade for some retro gaming you and your kids can enjoy together.

If you get hungry, you can visit Starz Grille next door for delicious nachos, burgers, salads, wings, and pizzas.

You just need to drive 13 minutes away from Holden Beach to reach this bowling alley in Shallotte, NC.

Sip Fine Wine at the Silver Coast Winery

For over ten years, the Silver Coast Winery has been making its wine and opening its grounds to public tours.

They also serve award-winning wine, which you can take home to your family and friends.

You could also enjoy them on your own or with a special person once you get back to your accommodation.

Besides a tour through the vineyard, the winery also offers special tasting sessions for their fine wines.

They also let you see how the grapes get turned into wine with a tour through the production facilities.

Before going home, drop by the gift shop and art gallery to see what you might have missed.

Join a Spooky Tour on the Sunset Beach & Ocean Isle Beach Ghost Walks

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm, intrepid adventurers follow a chilling walk along with the haunted spots of Sunset Beach.

These tours go by the name Sunset Beach Ghost Walks.

Join them to hear spine-chilling stories of haunted trains, ghost planes, ghost ships, lost ships, ghost whiskey smugglers, and haunted plantations.

You’ll even hear about strange lights that scientists still could not explain.

Ocean Isle Beach also has a ghost walk, and the stories there are pretty similar.

However, an important thing separates both places.

If you must know, Ocean Isle Beach is one of the most haunted towns on the East Coast.

Its county is also one of the most haunted counties on the entire seaboard.

So, prepare yourself.

Final Thoughts

Holden Beach is a terrific summer getaway because of its wonderful beaches and marine attractions.

It’s also a gateway to other beautiful beachside towns that have their own things to show and stories to tell.

So, catch some sun at Holden Beach today!

Discover More of Brunswick County, NC

Things to Do in Oak Island, NC

Things to Do in Sunset Beach, NC

Things to Do in Southport, NC

Things to Do in Calabash, NC

Things to Do in Ocean Isle Beach, NC

© All rights reserved.