Southport is known as the launching point for a number of barrier island adventures and vacations, including the ferry trip to neighboring Bald Head Island. A completely unique experience, the Bald Head Island ferry is one of the only privately run ferries that transport visitors to a North Carolina barrier island is such high volume, and with such an assortment of amenities. From baggage services to incredible passenger lounges, the Bald Head Island ferry allows travelers to arrive to their island destination in style.
Bald Head Island is the southernmost barrier island in the chain of east-facing islands that border North Carolina's mainland from Southport all the way to Beaufort, NC. A wide but small island of just under 6 square miles in area, the island is effectively a quiet paradise for vacationers who want to leave the heavy traffic behind, and enjoy an oceanfront community of vacation rental homes and empty beaches. In fact, there are no vehicles allowed on Bald Head Island, and the only way around the small territory is by foot, bicycle, golf cart, or one of the trams that provide transportation for vacation rental guests to their accommodations.
Fittingly, the Bald Head Island ferry from Southport is strictly a passenger ferry, although extra luggage and equipment, (like bicycles or kayaks), are allowed for an additional fee. Upon arriving at the Deep Point Ferry on Ferry Road, visitors will be able to park at three separate parking lots, with rates that are determined by the length of stay. Travelers who are bringing plenty of gear have the option to drop off their baggage and passengers beforehand, sending their luggage onboard via an airport-style conveyor belt. Covered containers are also available for a nominal charge at the ferry ticket window to ensure the gear stays warm and dry despite the weather conditions. Oversized items, like kayaks or bikes, can be dropped off at the lower level curb, where they will be carefully stored and waiting for passengers upon their arrival on Bald Head Island.
For the majority of the year, the ferry leaves the mainland Southport terminal on the hour, every hour, from 7:00 a.m. until midnight or so, depending on the time of year and day. (For example, weekday departures in January generally only run until 9:00 p.m.) On the Bald Head Island side, ferries depart on the half hour, every hour. Reservations are accepted in advance by calling the ferry directly at (910) 457-5003, although with the exception of summer weekends and holidays, most travelers find that there is seldom a wait to climb aboard.
There are two seasonally-open ferry terminals in Southport with separate arrival and departure areas, as well as a climate controlled passenger lounge, an outdoor waiting area which takes advantage of the waterfront views, and even a snack bar.
Once on board, it's just a quick 20 minute ride across the mouth of the Cape Fear River to the Bald Head Island ferry terminal, where guests can retrieve their luggage and set about the business of exploring this island paradise. Many vacation rental companies feature free or discounted golf court rentals for weekly visitors, and tram reservations can also be booked by calling (910) 457-4944. Day trippers will most likely want to bring a bicycle along, which can be picked up in Bald Head Island at the Baggage Claim area, as it is the easiest way to explore the entirety of the island in a few hours time.
The ride itself is perfectly scenic, with indoor and outdoor decks to sit back, relax, and enjoy the wide open views. Although short, many visitors wish the ride was extended, as the vistas of Southport, the barrier islands, and the small marshes located in between are simply unparalleled.
Tickets generally run around $24.75 for adults, and $13.75 for children ages 3-12. Additional charges may apply for extra large items, or additional concierge services. The General Lot Parking is $10 a day from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and $8 a day the remainder of the year. Annual passes are also available for frequent Bald Head Island visitors.
A unique way to visit an island paradise, the ferry from Southport to Bald Head Island is one of the most exceptional privately run ferries in the state, if not the Eastern Seaboard. Absolutely accommodating with efficiency that ensures both passengers and luggage arrives to their island destination, water lovers are encouraged to take a day trip to this neighboring coastal destination for an adventure and a transportation experience that is completely one-of-a-kind and perfectly memorable.