Seafood Capital of the South: The Nearby Coastal Town of Calabash

September 6, 2021

The Southern United States can be a seafood lovers paradise. Especially when you reach the coastal towns located around the Intracoastal Waterway. Though several towns, such as Wilmington, Southport, Hampstead, and Wrightsville Beach are all known for their abundance of fresh seafood, the town of Calabash is especially famous. The town itself is small but big with maritime history and a cooking style that’s decades old.

Brunswick Forest has a lot of amazing places to visit on the water. Calabash may not be as talked about like Myrtle Beach or downtown Wilmington, but it’s every bit as significant to our culture. Often touted as “The Seafood Capital of the World,” Calabash sits on the border between North and South Carolina. First settled as early as 1691, this charming fishing village was named for the type of gourds growing in the region, that were often used for drinking water.

As the village began to grow, the area became known for its prime fishing real estate. In the 1930s, fishmongers began to experiment with a simple, yet delicious style of cooking seafood that became legendary all over the country. Calabash-style seafood is where cooks take a special batter and dust the fish generously with it and then fry it until crispy. The result is a taste sensation so good that there’s an entire strip of restaurants down in Myrtle Beach (And elsewhere) that label their fried seafood as “Calabash-style”.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the legions of shrimping and fishing boats pouring out through the inlet. The biggest thing to do in Calabash is, without a doubt, visiting one of their famous restaurants right on the water. Famous establishments include the Calabash Seafood Hut, Ella’s of Calabash, Captain John’s Seafood House, and Captain Nance’s Seafood. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, a stop at the Calabash Creamery is a great place to satisfy that sweet tooth. It’s been featured in USA Today if that’s a vote of confidence for you!

There’s a lot of small retail shops in Calabash that have a lot of memorabilia, arts, crafts, and other custom items for you to purchase. Callahan’s of Calabash is the locale’s largest gift shop for trinkets like these. If you’re feeling adventurous and want an inkling of what it’s like to fish in these well-known waters, you can take a guided fishing tour with the Calabash Fishing Fleet. Or, you may just want to take a relaxing cruise on the water in search of dolphins and wild birds. The town of Calabash has an incredible golfing scene as well, featuring at least six of the 30 championship courses in Brunswick County.

Overall, Calabash is a small town with lots of history and a character as timeless as the tides themselves. Consider adding this to your day trip bucket list if you haven’t already, as it is relatively close to Brunswick Forest!