Surf City Pier

A Traveler's Guide

Surf City Pier

The history and lore of the Surf City Pier are fascinating and a source of pride to the locals. Constructed in 1948, Surf City Pier was the first ocean pier on Topsail Island, North Carolina.

The Surf City Pier held up to many damaging storms until Hurricane Fran wiped it out in 1996. You’ll find plenty of memorabilia in the town of Surf City and on Topsail Island detailing the lore of the original Surf City Pier.

In 1997, a rebuilt Surf City Pier reopened. It stretches out 937 ft. with a 40 ft. octagon at its end. The Surf City Pier is a fully-stocked fishing pier with a large assortment of bait in an impressive tackle shop, and the fishing pier lights up after dark for night fishing.

When you visit in season, you’ll find fun and quirky souvenir shops, a grill serving chuck burgers, delicious ice cream, and a covered dining area for all-weather dining. Check out our beautiful Surf City Pier with great tips from locals in the know!


  • Surf City Pier is officially open from mid-March through December 1st every year, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The Pier House provides information on the off-season, winter hours.
  • Currently, the town of Surf City is considering seasonal parking enforcement from 9 am to 5 pm during the peak season of April 1st through October 31st of each year. Off-season parking will continue to be free of charge. 


The whole family will enjoy Surf City’s fishing pier from Spring to early Winter when the North Carolina weather is cooperating. The Surf City ocean pier is divided up into the following zones:

1. Suds (the beach is right underneath)

2. Slough (where the surf breaks)

3. Sandbar (about 100 yards out)

4. The Deep, and

5. The Deeper!

Fish you will catch vary by the season and what zone of the Surf City ocean pier you’re fishing. For example:

  • Spring & Fall, you fish from the Suds zone for comical-looking blowfish.
  • Summer to Fall, you fish from the Suds zone for flounder.
  • April to September, you fish for pompano from the Suds to the Sandbar.
  • It’s exciting to sit on the Surf City ocean pier during the late Spring to summer months and watch people fishing the Deeper zones for king mackerel and tarpon.


The Surf City Pier offers two fish cleaning stations on the octagon equipped with fresh water, super-convenient to filet up a catch right there in preparation for a great meal! Depending on how sensitive your kiddos are, you can decide whether they’ll want to watch, but it’s a sight to see, and often, there are some very impressive catches and great stories on the fishing pier. Check this out for more info.


“Nighttime is the right time,” as the locals say at Surf City Pier. Because the fishing pier is well-lit all night long, you’ll often find folks out there fishing for “spots, mullet, blues, and drum,” as they call a few of the many species of fish. Occasionally, you’ll see dolphins or even sharks from the fishing pier at any time of day. If you go night fishing at Surf City Pier, stay for the sunrise because it’s one of the most breathtaking sights in North Carolina.


If you ask any local around Surf City Pier what their favorite meal is, most everyone says “ice cream!” And if you search online for “surf city pier ice cream,” you’ll find an abundance of results on Topsail Island to satisfy your sweet craving and cool you down on a blazing hot North Carolina day. 


There are many accommodation options available for you near Surf City Pier. From an oceanfront home, a stone’s throw from the sand, to a romantic cottage, or a studio apartment with pool and hot tub facilities, wherever you’re looking to stay oceanfront in Pender County, your perfect vacation is waiting.

Check-in times vary by season, and peak season bookings fill up quickly. It’s best to secure a reservation as soon as possible and get confirmation details like check-in times in writing.

Remember, too, that Topsail Island is just as beautiful in the off-season. Are you looking to chill out in the hot tub with the sound of crashing waves nearby? There are fantastic deals available off-season around Surf City Pier, including check-ins for shorter stays of less than a week. 

Explore Surf City Vacation Rentals here.


On a beautiful sunny day, oceanfront activities rule in Surf City and all over Topsail Island. But if you get tired just relaxing, sunbathing, tipping your toes into the Atlantic, or having a sandcastle-building contest, there’s still a ton to do on Topsail Island!

Check out the Sea Turtle Rescue Center with your family, or take a water shuttle tour with Captain Tate. There are art galleries, and a brewery too, for the grownups. 


For a change of pace, check out Wilmington, North Carolina, for an abundance of fun things to see, do and learn. From Battleship North Carolina to the historic district, the Riverwalk, the Arboretum, and Cape Fear Museum, you’ll enjoy a memorable day exploring Wilmington, and it’s only about a 45-minute drive from the Surf City Ocean Pier!


Thanks for checking out Surf City Pier and everything Topsail Island in Pender County is famous for: oceanfront fun, an exciting fishing pier, friendly folks, and delicious ice cream. Book your Surf City Vacation Rental today and come on down and join us on Surf City Pier!