Would not recommend
M D from Washington DC, District of Columbia, USA,
Stayed for 0 days in August, 2014
A few caveats. We had never been to Topsail Island before and I recognize that there has apparently been some erosion of the beach and weather patterns (high winds/rain). I also understand that, as I was told after our stay, the island is "at the mercy of the tides." And before we arrived, there were indeed rains and high winds.
Nonetheless, I want to caution folks that the advertisement of the beach and the pictures of the beach for this listing does not reflect the current condition of the beach (as of August 2014). I haven't really written a negative review of a place before, but I feel strongly that a place as expensive as this one should be accurate (whatever the reason being for it not being accurate, erosion or no).
First, there is no longer "direct beach access" as the ad states. The island has removed most of the bridge over the dunes because the dunes are disappearing and the bridge was getting dangerous. (We actually asked an island beach repairman after the bridge had been torn down how to get to the beach from our house and he shrugged.) In its place is a three-foot cliff of hard rock/sand that you must jump down from. We certainly couldn't use it safely with young children. Or you can walk through tall grass and cacti across the neighbor's property without their express permission and over the sand dunes. Not great for flip flops or other beach shoes, and in any event not exactly a legitimate access point. Or you can walk down many houses (on the road - there is no sidewalk) to reach the nearest real access point. In other words, it wasn't as simple as the ad makes it out to be.
Second, the tides are HIGH at high tide - the water comes all the way up to the dunes during high tide. That means there is no sand beach during a significant part of the day. You must again walk down many many houses to have a place in the sand to set up for the day. And this is a problem with kids too when they want to sit in the sand and make sand castles, or even if you want to lounge on the beach without kids.
Third, there are also seeming remnants of houses/other pieces of large trash visible when the tide is low. So not really safe swimming conditions. It appears that the island has signs that say "no swimming" for the area in front of the house (although people do ignore the signs). It didn't seem like this was a new state of affairs due to recent weather - we were informed by residents (not sure if this is true though) that there used to be other houses in front but that they were eroded away. In any event, when we arrived, there was, for example, a huge black cable sticking out of the ground in a big loop. The island trimmed it back but still leaving a fairly large nub of cord sticking out of the ground.
I informed the realty company of my concerns. They were polite, but the ad seems not to have changed as of now. Moreover, they blamed erosion and bad weather, but I find it hard to believe that two weeks of bad weather would be responsible for completely eroding the beach such that it now looks nothing like the picture.
The house itself was fine, though a bit run down and dirty in places. The top floor with the kitchen, dining table, and couches was functional especially with kids, and the balcony was nice for the evening when there was shade (after we threw away the trash previous tenants had left and had not been cleaned up). The bottom floor was ok, except that some mattresses had dirty footprints on them (yuck), the shower drains didn't work well, and one of the bedroom doors wouldn't close.
I think in particular though if we had known about the beach, we would not have chosen this place. I can live with imperfections with the house, they weren't deal breakers. But we spent a lot of money in August to take our kids to the beach, and I really wish that we had chosen another location.