I love Holden Beach!!! It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and it’s full of family memories. Each summer, my family rents a home through Hobbs Realty (which is a fabulous rental company) and we all enjoy the ocean breeze, sandy toes and salt air together. However, it wouldn’t be a summer vacation without a beach cruiser! Last summer, I took my rented cruiser from Beach Fun Rentals and explored the island via the “Olden Holden” Bike Tour.
The tour a great way to get some exercise, see the sights and learn a little bit of Holden Beach History. Whether you’re a serious bike rider, a gym-goer or just a sightseer, the “Olden Holden Bike Tour” is a perfect experience for the whole family with scenic views and historic points of interest.
The 20-mile Olden Holden Bike Tour offers three routes with 23 stops that span the island – from the East End to the West End. Download and the official bike map here or pick up one at one the island’s merchants.
The Three Olden Holden Bike Routes:
- The Pink Route, on the East End of the island, is a 3 1⁄2-mile loop and includes most of the historic points of interest and bicycle access to the beach.
- The Blue Route, in the middle of the island, is a 5-mile scenic loop with views of the waterway and marshlands. Here you can enjoy glimpses of water birds, deer and an occasional dolphin.
- The Orange Route, on the West End of the island, is a 10-mile loop dotted with parks, butterfly garden, fishing areas and bicycle access to the beach.
With a deep love of cycling and being a tourist, I biked all three routes. Here is my adventure in photos. Each stop is marked by a numerical sign which is seen in the photos. Please note the description of each stop is pulled from the official bike map.
Stop #1: Ocean View Tavern (Pink Route)
The Ocean View Tavern was built in 1949 by Dr. Rothschild Holden on his property. There were eight rooms for rent upstairs and a restaurant on the first floor. The Tavern survived Hurricane Hazel 1954 on the original lot.
Stop #2: Holden Beach Chapel (Pink Route)
The first worship service at Holden Beach Chapel was held June 11, 1961. Prior to building the Chapel, Mr. Luther Holden arranged for services to be held in the old Pavilion. Ministers from various denominations receive a week’s stay at the parsonage in exchange for leading Sunday worship services. The current sanctuary was dedicated in 2003. This interdenominational church has an 11:00 am service every Sunday morning providing worship and fellowship to vacationers, property owners and residents of Holden Beach and nearby communities.
Stop #3: New Town Hall (Pink Route)
Holden Beach’s New Town Hall was built between 2008-2009 and replaced the old town hall originally built by John Holden, Mayor, and volunteers in 1973.
Stop #4: Halstead Street Park (Pink Route)
Halstead Street Park is a project of the Holden Beach Beautification Club. Halstead Park is almost a local secret. Located at the end of Halstead as it crosses South Shore Drive, it is home to a public fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway. HBBC maintains the flowers and shrubs, and bulb planting. There is a large gazebo and two picnic tables for public use.
Stop #5: Old Ferry (Pink Route)
In the 1930s the Old Ferry was only large enough to carry one car and was pulled across the waterway by hand on a cable. The operator caught the cable with a notched wooden pole called a “jack stick” and pulled the ferry across. In 1946, the second ferry held two cars and was powered by an old car engine. The steel cable that held it on course had to be lowered for each boat that came. Long lines of cars backed up during the weekends in the early 1950s. The cable had to be raised by hand and was extremely heavy.
Stop #6: First Public Water System (Pink Route)
The first public water system was a deep fresh water well located in a cinder block building, which served about 30 homes and businesses on the island. The Coast Guard Station and Horse Barn were located nearby.
Stop #7: Airfield (Pink Route)
Luther Holden smoothed and planted the airfield with Bermuda grass for his son Kemp in the mid 1940s. Piper Cubs, Aronicas and Comanches were the planes of that time. A breakfast club of fliers would come to eat at the old hotel. The airfield was open to the public. There was not a sign for this stop, so I’m assuming this is the airfield location, based on the map.
Stop #8: Eagle Lake (Pink Route)
Eagle Lake is a small freshwater pond on the ocean side of some high dunes near the waterway. Not much to see here.
Stop #9: Elizabeth, Bendigo & Ranger Shipwrecks (Pink Route)
The Elizabeth, Bendigo & Ranger Shipwrecks were three Civil War Blockade runners that sank off the coast. Detailed information is printed on three separate stone tablets along Ocean Boulevard East.
Stop #10: The Old Hotel (Pink Route)
The Old Hotel was the first building on the beach aside from the fishery. Built in 1926 by Mr. John Holden, Jr. for visitors, the hotel had a dining room where his wife did the cooking.
Stop #11: J&K (Pink Route)
J&K was the first store pavilion and was built by John and Kemp Holden after they returned from World War II. Locals thought it meant “Jump & Kick.” It provided a nice place for families to gather. John added a jukebox and called square dances in the round for all ages. Some groceries were sold there and later a restaurant was added. The larger Surfside Pavilion was built on the ocean side of the J&K in 1952. After Hazel devastation, a smaller second Pavilion was built in 1958. The J&K was moved and converted into a duplex located on Hillside Street. In 1980s it was moved again and part of the building was converted into a house on Gerda Street.
Stop #12: Bill Grady’s Grocery Store (Pink Route)
Bill Grady’s Grocery Store was built where the first swing bridge came down. The first public telephone was located outside, many nights there would be a line for using it.
Stop #13: Menhaden Processing Plant (Pink Route)
Menhaden Processing Plant was just across the waterway from the island (Holden Beach Marina). The plant took menhaden fish and converted them to fertilizer. The locals said it smelled awful, especially with a land breeze.
Stop #14: New Holden Beach Pavillion (Pink Route)
The New Holden Beach Pavillion was built in 2007 and provides a stage for weekly summer concerts and other events. Each Sunday night at 6:30 pm, families, visitors and locals gather at the Holden Beach Pavilion for free Summer concerts – put on your dancing shoes and bring your beach chair. Here’s the 2017 Concert Calendar.
Stop #15: Gerda Street (Blue Route)
Gerda Street is where a portion of the original J&K was and moved to its present location in the mid-1980s.
Stop #16: Scenic Intercoastal Waterway (Blue Route)
This Scenic Intercoastal Waterway stop has a beautiful view and is a great place to enjoy the beauty of the island.
Stop #17: Holden Beach Pier (Blue Route)
The Holden Beach Pier was originally operated by Hugh and Mabel Dutton for the stockholders. Today, the Holden Beach Pier features a grill/snack bar, a gift shop for local souvenirs and a bait shop. The Pier charges spectators a fee of $1 for walking the pier and $9 to fish.
Stop #18: Mary’s Inlet (Blue Route)
Mary’s Inlet (near Greensboro Street) came and went several times in the 1900s. The last time the ocean broke through was October 15, 1954, when Hurricane Hazel reopened it to the Inland Waterway. Years before when it was open, sailboats that brought supplies to Shallotte and Supply would use it for shelter from storms.
Stop #19: Butterfly Garden (Orange Route)
The Butterfly Garden is located beside the Fire Station and was a project of the Holden Beach Beautification Club. Roy Todd donated the fireman statue which was placed by Steve Greene and butterfly houses have been recently added.
Stop #20: Sanddollar Park (Orange Route)
Sanddollar Park offers a great view, fishing and small sandy beach along the Intracoastal Waterway. I missed this one, so the photo below is from Annes Travels.
Stop #21: Pocket Park (Orange Route)
Pocket Park is located at 628 Ocean Boulevard West and was another project of the Holden Beach Beautification Club. This is a good rest stop near the marsh. You have to really be looking for this quaint little garden to find it.
Stop #22: Sailfish Street Park (Orange Route)
Sailfish Street Park is an enjoyable park, fishing and beach along the Intracoastal Waterway. The park is also home to one of the Holden Beach Memory Mailboxes (which is handicap accessible).
Stop #23: Coast Guard Lookout Point (Orange Route)
During WW II, 20-25 men patrolled the beach by horseback on the lookout for German Submarines and this was the Coast Guard Lookout Point. Several U.S. Merchant Marine ships were observed being torpedoed and set afire.
Thanks for joining me on this photo tour of the Olden Holden Bike Tour!!! Next time you are at Holden Beach, grab your bicycle, breathe the salt air and enjoy the history the island holds.