More info: Sunset Beach is located in southwestern Brunswick County and is the last developed Atlantic Ocean beach before the South Carolina border.
The Sunset Pier was originally built in 1960, but had to be rebuilt in 1976 after years of wear and tear and passing hurricanes. At its current site, Sunset pier hovers above the remnants of the sunken 1864 blockade runner, the Vesta, which was unloaded along the beach in 1864, and then set on fire in 10' feet of water. When the pier was first constructed, the planks were placed far enough apart so that pier visitors could peep downwards and spot the ship's boiler just peeking out above the ocean floor. Today, the vessel is fully submerged, although locals swear that bits and pieces of the ship are occasionally uncovered during a passing hurricane or strong nor'easter.
Close to Sunset beach is Bird Island. This natural area consists of more than 1,200 acres of beautiful salt marsh and tidal creeks and is one of 10 sites that make up the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve.