The Kindred Spirit Mailbox hike on Bird Island, NC (A heartwarming Adventure)

P.S. Please get rid of the flies! I laughed aloud as I swatted a few away. It was Fall, so the flies weren’t at their summer peak, but I know only too well about annoying flies in an already intense heat. 

kindred spirit mailbox bird island nc 7
Bird Island, North Carolina

I was sitting at a bench reading scores of letters and stories from small notebooks placed in a letterbox hidden amongst the sand dunes on the pristine Bird Island in the Brunswick Islands, the southernmost coastal region of North Carolina. 

You may have heard of it. It’s called the Kindred Spirit Mailbox and it has attracted more than 100,000 hopeless romantics and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world since its inception in the 70s.

Girl looking inside a mailbox
Savannah looking in the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

It’s a fun and unique thing to do in the Brunswick Islands, where we visited for four days. It’s great not only for the heartwarming stories you’ll read – and perhaps leave of your own – but for the absolutely stunning location on this small, protected barrier island in North Carolina.

The Kindred Spirit Mailbox Hike

Mom and two daughters walking on a beach
1.4 mile beach stroll

I find myself hiking along the beach with my family thanks to romance novelist Nicholas Sparks – author of the Notebook (one of my favorite movies).

Many of his books are set in North Carolina, and the secret mailbox is a central figure in one of his more recent novels, “Every Breath.” We also recently visited Ocracoke Island the setting for his newest book.

I was intrigued by this mailbox that was indeed real and planted by a man named Frank Nesmith in the late 1970’s and a woman called Claudia who he briefly dated. 

Mon holding hands with her daughter walking on a beach
A gorgeous beach walk

The identity of the planters was kept anonymous until Claudia’s death. They wanted it to be about kindred spirits sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings and stories without judgment and in doing so offer healing and hope. 

I shared the story – and our upcoming adventure with the girls. Savannah decided she wanted to leave a letter in the mailbox which she wrote in our hotel before leaving. She wrote her dreams for the future, and I shared our manifesto for travel – which really applies to living a full life.

Man and lady beach fishing

With our letters ready we headed down to Sunset Beach from Ocean Isle, our base for our Brunswick Island vacation.

The Kindred Spirit Mailbox lies in the sand dunes on Bird Island about 1.4 miles from Sunset Beach Pier. This has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in NC, so take your time enjoying it. 

The beach is wide and flat, and you’ll pass by many fisherfolk, walkers, and fat tire bikers. You have that option if you don’t want to walk. I enjoyed chasing birds, cooling my feet in the water, and having this quality time with my girls. 

Mom and daughters walking on a beach

After about 30-minutes of walking, you should start looking for an opening in the sand dunes and you’ll come across the mailbox. Inside you’ll find several journals, some pens, and a weathered bench for you to read the innermost thoughts of kindred spirits around the world. 

notebooks inside kindred spirit mailbox

Savannah and I left our stories in the mailbox and then sat down to read those of others. You can write yours while sitting on the bench! We decided to stay a little longer to keep reading after Craig and Kalyra decided they’d had enough and wanted to return back to Sunset Beach.

Moved by what I read; I was reminded again how humans are so similar in the range of emotions that we feel. All the stories showed how much we all hurt, fear, and long for something deeper and more purposeful from our lives with the hope that it will be wrapped with love.

kindred spirit mailbox bird island nc 7 1
Taking it all in

We are indeed all kindred spirits on this journey called life. We are never alone, and this lonely mailbox in the middle of nowhere is a great reminder of that. It’s not just notebooks and letters; visitors leave other things like photos, cards, and baby toys.

A Mailbox on a beach

Whether you want to write a letter to your unrequited love or you have wisdom to share with those who visit after you, the Kindred Spirit mailbox serves as a symbol of hope and emotion.

Father and daughter standing at the beach looking at photos

We were lucky to have the bench mostly to ourselves to absorb the spirit of these messages and its tranquil home. And we were so moved by it; we added this experience to our North Carolina Bucket List. Get yours for free when you join our free email community!

Video: Kindred Spirit Mailbox Hike, Bird Island

You can see the beauty of this Bird Island hike in the following video:

About Bird Island

Beach houses behind sand dunes covered in vegetation

Bird Island is a unique barrier island located in Brunswick County, North Carolina. It is the last coastal area before the South Carolina border. 

It’s made up of pristine sandy white beaches, high natural dunes, and more than 1,200 acres of salt marsh and tidal creeks. This protected natural area is one of ten sites that make up the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve. 

Lady walking through sand dunes on a beach
Trail through the dunes

As you can imagine from the name, Bird Island is a haven for many bird species like the Reddish Egret and Wood stork. The endangered loggerhead sea turtles can safely nest here.

Apart from the Kindred Spirit mailbox, you can also enjoy hiking, (fat tire) biking, bird watching, fishing, swimming and even surfing. 

A nature trail leads from the beach and loops around the Bird Island Reserve. You’ll find the trail just before the mailbox. We took a short detour along the way.

How to get to Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

people walking along beach on bird island

The best way to get to Bird Island is to start at the Public Beach Access located at West 40th Street on Sunset Beach NC. 

Take the access to the beach, and head Southwest (away from Sunset Beach pier). You can either walk or ride a bike, it is about 1.5 miles from the 40th Street access to The Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Sunset Beach

woman and child walking down to the water at sunset beach

While here, you can also spend time at Sunset Beach. It’s no surprise Sunset Beach made National Geographic’s 2017 list of 21 Best Beaches in The World. It was one of my favorites in the Brunswick Island area

We saw plenty of relaxed smiles on the people sitting on their chairs guarding their fishing poles hoping for a catch, groups of friends whizzing by on their fat tire bikes, and couples holding hands as they walked the flat packed sand.

girl jumping out of water with pier behind her

Time moves slowly here, and we soaked it up riding a few tiny waves on our body boards with Savannah and lying in the sun with Kalyra reading.

This is the magic you are looking for in a beach destination: miles of pristine white sand bordered by sand dunes instead of high rises. It is where your soul comes to exhale and connect more deeply to Mother Nature. So stay awhile – it’s the perfect NC Coastal Day.

Where to stay in the Brunswick Isles

Ocean Iisle Inn, Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina
Ocean Isle Inn

We stayed at the Ocean Isle Inn at Ocean Isle, which is quite central to most of the attractions and beachside destinations in the Brunswick Isles.

Here are our accommodation recommendations (there are mostly vacation rentals in this area):

In Summary

Sign on a beach showing direction

In conclusion, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island is a unique and special place that has touched the hearts of many people. 

It’s a place where you can find solace, share your thoughts and feelings, and connect with others in a meaningful way. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend taking the time to visit this hidden gem.

Just don’t forget to bring your fly swatter, perhaps a tissue, and your open-hearted love for humanity. 

We have more beach vacation ideas in coastal North Carolina. Check out these fun adventures in the Outer Banks to love with kids, here are some of our favorite beaches under 3 hours from Raleigh, one-day itinerary to Wrightsville Beach, things to do in Carolina Beach, and don’t miss these things to do in the Ocean Isle while in this region.

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