Brunswick County and Its Communities

     Brunswick County is a county in the southeastern part of North Carolina. The county was formed in 1764 from parts of Bladen County and New Hanover County. It was named for the colonial port of Brunswick Town (now in ruins) which itself was named for Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, at the time held by the British kings of the House of Hanover. It includes three cities, 15 towns, one village, and several unincorporated areas. The Brunswick River and the Cape Fear River provide access to the Atlantic Ocean. The county includes six ocean beaches. Adjacent counties are Pender (to the northeast), New Hanover (to the east), Horry (SC) (to the southwest), and Columbus (to the northwest).

     The oldest still-existing incorporated municipality in Brunswick County is Bolivia (the county seat), which incorporated in 1911. Leland (18,843) is the largest municipality in the county, while Bolivia (152) is the smallest. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,050 square miles of which 847 square miles are land and 203 square miles are water. It is the fourth-largest county (out of 100) in North Carolina by total area. As of the 2010 census, full-time population was 107,431 – the 25th most populous county in the state. Brunswick County is included in the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle BeachSC-NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, though many believe it should still be in the Wilmington SMSA, where it once was classified. The county's website is www.brunswickcountync.gov (go to site directly)

 

     Bald Head Island is a village in the southeastern section of Brunswick County. It is located on the east side of the Cape Fear River and is the southernmost settlement in North Carolina. The estimated population in 2016 was 175. The village has a total of 5.8 square miles (3.9 square miles of land and 1.9 square miles of water). There are three beaches on the island, and the north side consists of marsh. Elevation is 5 feet. It is only accessible by ferry from the nearby town of Southport. There are few cars on the island; instead, residents drive modified electric golf carts. The village’s website address is www.villagebhi.org.

     Belville is a town in the northeastern section of Brunswick County. It is located across the Brunswick River and Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington. It was incorporated as a town in 1977. The estimated population in 2016 was 2,094. The town has a total area of 1.9 square miles (1.7 square miles of land and .19 square miles of water). Elevation is 25 feet. The town’s website address is www.townofbelville.com.

     Boiling Springs Lake is a city in the northeastern section of Brunswick County. The city of Wilmington is 22 miles to the northeast, and Caswell Beach and Oak Island on the Atlantic Ocean are 11 miles to the south. It was incorporated as a city in 1961. The estimated population in 2016 was 5,930. The town has a total area of 24.0 square miles (23.3 square miles of land and 0.69 square miles of water). Elevation is 49 feet. The town’s website address  is www.cityofbsl.org.

     Bolivia is a town in east-central Brunswick County and is the county seat. The city of Wilmington is 18 miles northeast, and Myrtle Beach is 53 miles to the southwest. It was incorporated as a town in 1911. The estimated population in 2016 was 152. The town has a total area of 0.62 square miles – all of it land. Elevation is 43 feet. The town does not have a website.

     Calabash is a town in southwest Brunswick County.  Its southwest border is the South Carolina state line. It is bordered to the northwest by the town of Carolina Shores, and the town of Sunset Beach is to the east. The tidal Calabash River flows through the southern part of the town, leading southwest to the Little River in South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is 25 miles to the southwest. The estimated population in 2016 was 2,146. The town has a total area of 3.7 square miles (3.3 square miles is land and 0.35 square miles is water). Elevation is 49 feet. The town’s website address is www.townofcalabash.net.

 

     Carolina Shores is a town in southwest Brunswick County. Its southwest border is the South Carolina

state line; the town of Calabash borders Carolina Shores to south. The city of Wilmington is 47 miles to the northeast, and Myrtle Beach is 24 miles to the southwest. The town was incorporated in 1998 after a split from the town of Calabash. The town limits of Carolina Shores currently interlock with those of Calabash. The estimated population in 2016 was 4,012. The town has a total area of 2.56 square miles (land occupies all but .0004 square miles). Elevation is 46 feet. The town’s website address is www.townofcarolinashores.com.

 

     Caswell Beach is a seaside town located on the east end of Oak Island, which is the easternmost South Brunswick barrier island. It is approximately halfway between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. The town was incorporated in 1975. The estimated population in 2016 was 429. The town has a total area of 4.1 square miles (2.9 square miles of land and 1.1 square miles of water). Elevation is 10 feet. The town’s website address is www.caswellbeach.org.

 

     Holden Beach is a seaside town located in southern Brunswick County. The town occupies an 8-mile long barrier island. It is between Oak Island and Ocean Isle Beach and is 10 miles northwest of Shallotte. The town was incorporated in 1969. The estimated population in 2016 was 644. The town has a total area of 3.4 square miles (2.7 square miles of land and 0.69 square miles of water). Elevation is 3 feet. The town’s website address is www.hbtownhall.com.

 

     Leland is a town located in northern Brunswick County to the west of the Brunswick River and directly west of downtown Wilmington. Leland surrounds the town of Belville on three sides (to the north, west, and south). The town was incorporated in 1989. The estimated population in 2016 was 18,843. The town has 19.9 square miles (19.8 square miles are land). Elevation is 16 feet. The town’s website is www.townofleland.com.

 

     Navassa is a town in north-central Brunswick County. It is located along the Brunswick River and Cape Fear River. The town was incorporated in 1977. The estimated population in 2016 was 1,785. The town has 13.82 square miles (land occupies all but 0.48 square miles). Elevation is 16 feet. The town’s website address is www.townofnavassa.org.

     Northwest is a city near the northernmost point of Brunswick County. It is 13 miles west of Wilmington and 33 miles east of Whiteville. The town was incorporated in 1993. The estimated population in 2016 was 776. The city has 70. Square miles – all of it is land. Elevation is 52 feet. The city’s website address is www.cityofnorthwest.com.

 

     Oak Island is a seaside town located mostly on the barrier island of Oak Island (which also contains the town of Caswell Beach). The town extends onto the mainland north of the island's bridge. It is bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Caswell Beach, to the north in part by the town of St. James, and to the west by the town of Holden Beach. Oak Island is 30 miles south of downtown Wilmington. It was founded in 1999 by the consolidation of the towns of Long Beach and Yaupon Beach. The estimated population in 2016 was 7,782. The town has a total area of 19.9 square miles (18.5 square miles of land and 1.4 square miles of water). Elevation is 14 feet. The town’s website address is www.oakislandnc.com.

 

     Ocean Isle Beach is a seaside town located in southwestern Brunswick County near the end of North Carolina. The town includes both the entire barrier island of Ocean Isle Beach, extending 5 miles (8 km) from Tubbs Inlet on the west to Shallotte Inlet on the east, and a section of the mainland to the north. Holden Beach borders on the east and Sunset Beach on the west. It was incorporated in 1959. The estimated population in 2016 was 614. The town has 4.5 square miles (3.4 square miles of land and 1.1 square miles of water). Elevation is 12 feet. The town’s website address is www.oibgov.com.

 

     Sandy Creek is a town located in northern Brunswick County. It is 13 miles west of Wilmington and 33 miles east of Whiteville. The estimated population in 2016 was 269. The town has 1.3 square miles – all of it is land. Elevation is 39 feet. The town does not have a website.

 

     Shallotte is a town in west-central Brunswick County. The Shallotte River passes through the town. It is located 33 miles southwest of Wilmington and 38 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach. It was incorporated in 1899. The estimated population in 2016 was 3,970. The town has 9.3 square miles – land occupies all but 0.08 square miles. Elevation is 10 feet. The town’s website is www.townofshallotte.org.

 

     St. James is a town located in southern Brunswick County . It is bordered to the south, west, and north by the town of Oak Island. It is 5 miles west of Southport and 11 miles east of Supply. The estimated population in 2016 was 5,317. The town has 8.3 square miles – land occupies all but .04 square miles. Elevation is 29 feet. The town’s website address is www.townofstjamesnc.org.

 

     Southport is a city in southeastern Brunswick County located on the northwest bank of the tidal Cape Fear River, approximately 2 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The estimated population in 2016 was 3,625. The city has 3.8 square miles – land occupies all but .04 square miles. Elevation is 20 feet. The city’s website address is www.cityofsouthport.com.

 

     Sunset Beach is a seaside town located in southwestern Brunswick County. It is the last developed Atlantic Ocean beach before the South Carolina border. One-third of the town's area occupies a barrier island between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway; the remainder of the town extends onto the mainland to the north. Undeveloped Bird Island is directly to the west, Calabash is the closest town to the west on the mainland, and Ocean Isle Beach is to the east. The town was incorporated in 1963. The estimated population of the town in 2016 was 3,902. The town has 7.3 square miles (6.4 square miles of land and 0.9 square miles of water).  Elevation is 10 feet. The town’s website address is www.sunsetbeachnc.gov.

 

     Varnamtown is a town located in southern Brunswick County. It is situated on the banks of the Lockwood Folly River. The town of Holden Beach is 2.5 miles to the southwest. The town was incorporated in 1988. The estimated population of the town in 2016 was 575. The town occupies 1 square mile (0.9 square miles of land and less than 0.1 square miles of water).  Elevation is 26 feet. The town does not have a website.

Brunswick County also includes the unincorporated communities of Ash, Longwood, Red Bug, Sunset Harbor, Supply, and Winnabow.