Yesterday, I went to Bald Head Island for the first time. A Wendy Wilmot Properties yellow golf cart with a red surfboard strapped on top awaited me when I got off the 8 a.m. ferry. I was handed a map, along with a list of places to see along the way, whether it was a view from a home, a tasty milkshake at the Peli, or a dip in the ocean. It truly was a fun way to explore the island and see firsthand what questions I might have, and what parts I’d like the most (which was a lot!) I also discovered how many three-point turns a golf cart can make, and how many times I couldn’t help but stop, get out of the cart, and venture down this or that little path to take a closer look at beautiful homes or just enjoy the shade of the large oaks with their cool green leaves.
As I was driving down the streets, almost everyone I saw waved, kids smiled, parents looked relaxed. A golf cart passed me once when I was turned around and feeling a little lost, but the sound of the kids’ laughter as they passed left me with the relaxed, happy feeling of slowing down and taking it easy. And when I looked up, I realized I was on the right road.
I like how the street signs on the island are subtle, and the speed limit is 13 mph. It is such a break from the fast-paced, stoplight-laden traffic lanes filled with road ragers that are more the norm on our commute to and from work.
People come here to get away from all that and, it wasn’t until I found myself on the island truly experiencing this way of living, that I really got it. Here, getting away from it all is more of a feeling than a saying. Had I stayed a couple of days longer, I might have ditched the golf cart and used a bike to get everywhere, because the neat thing is: you can. It might take a little longer on a bike, but you are on “island time,” so what does that matter?
My little adventure, arranged by Wendy Wilmot Properties, allowed me to see all of the island. I stopped and painted a watercolor high on the dune overlooking Cape Fear, just outside what is known as “the whale house.” I spent some quiet time on Middle Island, listening to nature. I interacted with visitors in a neighborly way, and the sense of welcome resounded. As I wandered through neighborhoods, garages and windows were open with families spilling out of them, some packing up the carts for a beach day, others working on their yards, some flying kites. The laughter, smiles and a sense of ease resonated wherever I went.
I’m sure people come from all over and there is a huge mix in how they make their livings off the island. But on the island the share a common way of life: a laid-back, taking-it-easy, relaxing kind of living. I’m positive now that people take that with them when they leave and when it starts to fade, they rush back for a refresher. Because all in all, that kind of living is what we all are going for, right?
To Wendy Wilmot, thanks for the experience. To everyone else, I highly encourage you to visit Bald Head Island, and if you are a first-timer, take a bike or a golf cart and explore with or without a map or an agenda.
After all, Bald Head Island is the kind of place you really don’t mind getting lost.