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Situated at the southern end of Topsail Island, off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, the Town of Topsail Beach is the smallest of the three communities located on the 26-mile long island. North Topsail Beach occupies the northernmost section, and Surf City, the largest town on the island, is in the center. The Island is just off US Highway 17, about half-way between Wilmington and Jacksonville.
Topsail Island has a rich and varied history. Local folklore claims the name, Topsail (pronounced Tops’l), originated during the 1700’s when pirate ships roamed the coastal waters.
Historians explain that marauding pirates hid their ships in the channel behind the island and waited for passing merchant ships loaded with goods. The pirates would pursue and attack the merchants, claiming the cargoes as their own. Eventually the merchants became aware of this infamous hiding place and began to watch for the tops of the pirates' sails showing over the rolling dunes - hence the name Topsail Island.