Topsail Island is located within the boundaries of two fairly rural counties but that doesn't mean there isn't the occasional traffic back up. With a little advanced planning, you can avoid the worst of the traffic congestion.

From late spring to mid fall it is not unusually for 10,000 to 15,000 people to come to the island on a Saturday. Most of these people will check into their beach houses, condos or hotel rooms at 3 p.m. Because of this influx of people converging on the island all at once, it's not unusual to sit in traffic at the swing bridge coming onto the island for up to an hour.

There are only two bridges leading to and from the island. One of the bridges is a swing bridge in Surf City. The swing bridge is scenic and interesting but it opens each hour at the top of the hour to let boat traffic pass, sometimes creating back ups with vehicular traffic. 

The other bridge is a high rise bridge located to the north and joins North Topsail Beach on the island with Sneads Ferry on the mainland.

There are several easy ways to try to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Schedule either an early or late check in or arrange to check in on a day other than a Saturday. Be aware though, the second option is not always possible during the summer months when vacation rentals are booked solid for the entire season.

Another way to avoid the traffic back up is to access the island from the high rise bridge. It might seem like you are going out of your way if your lodging is located in Surf City or Topsail Beach but the addition 20 to 30 minutes of scenic travel time down the length of the island beats sitting in traffic for an hour.  

Keeping in mind that the swing bridge opens at the top of the hour, it is also wise to avoid trips on and off the island via the swing bridge at those times any day of the week. The traffic is not usually bad during the weekday waits but there is still a delay while the bridge is open.

Generally, the swing bridge area is the only place on Topsail Island with any consistent traffic congestion. Being mindful of the traffic challenges of the swing bridge area and planning accordingly can save you from being stuck in traffic.