We spent a wonderful week at Tree Spirit in December and I can't think of a better way to restore and attune and exhale before the busy holidays and new year. The retreat is exactly as described, except the kitchen is even better outfitted. We cooked several meals a day very comfortably. The location is just perfect--so close to the beach and the Intercoastal, and bike/walking to the things you need while still feeling like you're "getting away". We saw dolphins on 5 of our 7 days here, and a meteor shower on our first night. This is a really special place!
Also, BRING YOUR BIKE or rent one there. The island is totally bikeable and we used our bikes for all our errands and adventures. Flat, paved, easy riding for cyclists of all experience levels.
Some of our highlights and recommendations:
--Surf City Crab (508 Roland Avenue, Surf City, NC 28445): Great place to buy fresh seafood. Ask for the local stuff if that's what you want. We had fresh local shrimp, flounder and swordfish and cooked it up at Tree Spirit. My husband is a chef and he was really impressed with the fish. (This is not associated with the Crab Pot restaurant that shares the parking lot.)
--Swingbridge Beer and Wine (http://www.swingbridgebeerandwine.com/): Good craft beer selection (lots of NC brews) and wines for all price points. The owners are delightful and really knowledgeable about Topsail Island history (and the pirate lore!). Lots of beer on draft and wine in the enomatic so you can sip and shop.
--Quarter Moon Books (http://quartermoonbooks.com/): A gem of a shop with a sunny patio and sweetheart owner and staff. They have live music, a nice selection of used and new books and a charming little wine bar (craft beer selection, too).
--Herring Outdoor Sports (http://www.herringsoutdoorsports.com/): A nicely-supplied shop that rents bikes, kayaks, fishing gear, sells licenses and tackle as well as a lot of fun souvenirs and clothing/shoes (and not just touristy stuff: it's like a mini-REI store. High quality). The owners got us all set up for surf fishing and were really helpful and friendly.
Chris was very responsive and accommodating, very kind to work with. We can't wait to come to Tree Spirit again!